For months I have been writing about sarees, the textiles and also sharing tips on what choices could benefit the reader, as a wearer of sarees.
The six yards, I have learnt, is often feared.
Fear of manageability, fear of planning, fear of wardrobe malfunction perhaps. Also fear of being viewed as conventional and traditional. Fear of looking older than your age. It comes with tons of misconceptions.
I have met the most dynamic, interesting and unconventional women, who wear sarees on a daily basis.
The six yards has evolved to be a very sophisticated outfit over the years, with so many women in the urban areas adopting it on a more regular basis.
One of the reasons I started this blog – to remove the fear of wearing sarees amongst new wearers.
While I chose the path of persuading them through editorial content, a lot of Drape queens on the Internet are showing ways of dispelling conventional ways. Case in point Aparna Rao. If you haven’t checked out her Instagram profile, I would suggest you do it right away.
Sarees by nature, are seamless elegant garments.
And just by wearing a saree, the personality gets a facelift.
I have always believed that it automatically helps you be perceived as elegant, classy and authoritative.
These two adjectives, elegance and class can be achieved or acquired.
And the garment lends sufficient doses of it.
And I’d like to believe that everybody is more than the outfit they choose to wear. It surely reflects your personality, and yes it builds a picture. But it’s not the whole picture, it is not the whole story.
It will still give only half the story. How you conduct yourself in day-to-day life is finally how people will remember you.
Ultimately, that is your brand in real life. Not what people know you as on Instagram.
Some tenets that I’ve followed which have held me in good stead:
A) Speaking correct English
As much as this is a political statement, here’s my two pence on it.
There is nothing classist or elitist about speaking correct English. Let me break it down in parts.
First of all, English is a practical language. It works the world over.
It adds to your credibility and professionalism. Secondly, speaking correct English doesn’t mean a degree in English literature or a lesson in vocabulary.
It can be acquired by listening. It is also about using the right word at the right time. Using simpler words can equally convey the right message.
By correct English, I mean getting the basic grammar right. I am not about to share a thesis on Wren and Martin.
Basic grammar is all you need to know- more than vocabulary.
Focus on subject-verb agreement. Most people fail here.
As long as you get this part right, you are already on the path to speaking better English. I have read journalists, who write English editorial content for a living, who make this error on subject-verb agreement. And thereafter, their credibility goes south.
It is not ‘Didn’t’ knew’. It is didn’t know.
It is not doesn’t has; it’s doesn’t have.
B) Committing to getting the job done
Doing the job is better than doing it perfectly. Dotting the I’s and crossing the Ts lead to unnecessary stress. This habit also builds focus of the mind.
Cuts out the riff-raff. When I started this blog, I just did. I didn’t wait for the perfect website design, perfect pictures and perfect content. All of them are gradually evolving and falling into place. Yes, there is a lot of room for improvement. But had I waited for perfection; I would’ve still been waiting. I wouldn’t have gotten the blog live and running.
This would probably go against the German way of thinking – that perfection is more important than movement. I prefer to move first and perfect it along the way, with consistency and continuity. I am definitely not condoning slackness in the quality of the job.
Neither trivialising discipline, but prioritizing action over over-thinking.
C) Being Empathetic
Have you ever felt an insult or humiliation? Has anybody been rude to you?
You must’ve been at the receiving end at some point, in some way or the other. It is never a pleasant feeling, right? And you know exactly how miserable it feels.
Now, imagine someone else feeling those same things.
Can you imagine, how unpleasant it must be for that person? That’s what empathy is… an act of kindness through gestures.
If you know how terrible it feels, why would you want someone else going through it?
Kindness is a way of life. It starts reflecting in your day-to-day transactions and people start appreciating you.
It is so easy to be rude – it is so easy to be irritable and angry.
But it is also easy to be kind. In a recent interview I did for a newspaper article, the Interviewee, CMO of a large beverage company said, Behaviour is the most important trait in a leader. Bad behaviour casts a long shadow on people. How true is that?
People don’t remember words – they remember how you made them feel.
D) Being Groomed
Like it or not, being groomed makes a big difference. It reflects how seriously you take others and yourself.
I don’t like an overly made-up look. I hardly apply make-up. But I do apply a bit of compact.
I follow a simple skin care regime that gets me going.
One- taking care of facial hair. Two- getting my mani-pedis.
If I cannot get a mani- pedi, I at least ensure my nails are shaped, clean and moisturised. My nails are grown to mid-length. I rarely apply nail paint, but when I do, I ensure I can refresh it.
I cannot stand chipped nail polish. It looks tacky and sloppy.
My skin care regime involves a good face wash and a moisturiser. Plus, a good perfume. I don’t mean that you spend tons on a designer perfume. But smelling good makes adds a touch of class, remembering that clean is better than done-up.
Tiny digression – when it comes to men, I always prefer the clean shaven look – stubble is icky! Unless you are Idris Elba of course!!
E) Dressing sensibly– Dressing according to the occasion is what I call dressing sensibly.
Not underdressed, but not being overdressed either.
Not loud and flashy, but still being classy and contemporary.
I’ll give you a recent and close-to-home example: a few years ago, I had attended the community garba and dandiya night. All women wore their best chaniya cholis. Some wore palazzos whereas others wore sarees. One lady came wearing T-shirt and jeans. Just like any other day. Did she look good? Sure, she did.
The thing was that she hadn’t dressed as per the occasion. She looked out of place. Every occasion demands a certain outfit and a certain level. Gauge that level and dress as per the occasion.
F) Being Trustworthy
Honouring your word and fulfilling what you’ve promised to others sends a definitive signal to the people you are dealing with.
It also signals to the other person that you can also expect the same behaviour in return and not take you for granted. It is the single most important facet of building your personal brand.
There is a trick of the trade here though – something that we use in Advertising all the time. And that is: under-promise and over-deliver.
Keep buffers. That way, you delight the person and also relieve yourself of running against time.
Although not every transaction is work related. But every transaction builds your own brand.
G) Having Goals and Ambitions
I need to have goals to function. Else, life seems quite meaningless to me. And my goals obviously keep changing. In school, one of my goals was to be good in French. Later, it became to get an entry into an MBA institute. I failed entrance exams of several business schools.
Now, my goal is to be a successful blogger.
I expect great things out of myself and out of life. I also want to be a runner. Yes, it requires dedication and commitment, but I need to have something to work towards. I would be a boring person if I didn’t have desires and aspirations.
As they say, where there is desire, there is life. In fact, I would take a step further in letting people know what my goals and ambitions are – I have always found help from others and built relationships this way.
H) Being Happy
Being happy under all circumstances is an art of life. It is possible, and it happens – more often than you would like to believe. It comes from deriving joy from the simpler things of life, knowing that a smile goes a long way, it starts friendships and conversations.
And this free flow of ideas spreads a positive vibe. It reflects a willingness to help and that you are not mean and rude.
I remember there was this guy in an old office, who after finishing his work, say somewhere around 4.30 pm, would take a round of the entire office, finding people to have small talk with – hanging with youngsters at the pantry, listening to music with some creative guys, interspersed with some gossip with people.
Likeability goes a long way in finding favours with people. I sometimes come across as cold because I am quite selective in choosing friends and no good at doing small talk.
But maturity changes people and it has changed me. I love conversations now – I say hi to strangers and initiate small talk at billing counters in supermarkets.
So, there you have it… eight tenets to being elegant and classy.
Hope I didn’t sound preachy. And I’m sure most of you know all of the above anyway.
It’s just that we tend to forget it from time to time and a bit of reminder does help.
Hope I was able to help to an extent.