Six Strong Women Decode What Dressing For Success Means To Them

by Neharika Manjani and Drishti Mistry

Corporate or creative, workwear wardrobes now go beyond basic button-downs and tailored trousers. In recent times, archaic dress codes have been replaced by ones that not only cater to the demands of different schedules but also reflect the personality of a professional. From a celebrity wedding designer to a star stylist to the first female CEO of an advertising agency, we got six strong women from very varied professions to decode what dressing for success means to them.

Photo credit: Varun Moghe
Gunita Stobe, co-founder and director, Anima Creative Management
“I love the process of finding new faces, nurturing them and watching them grow not just as a professional with international achievements but also as a confident individual,” says Gunita Stobe who co-runs a talent management firm with partner in business and life Mark Luburic. Pooja Mor and Dipti Sharma are only some of the names the duo have helped place on international runways.
The former model’s on-duty style is dominated by denims from labels both lesser-known and heavyweight. Her favourite pairs, she tells us, come courtesy of Sass & Bide, Diesel and Armani. “Since I’m in the creative industry, I don’t have to adhere to a strict dress code. While I usually believe less is more, I adjust my style to reflect my state of mind. Sometimes you’ll also spot me in beautiful prints,” she adds.

Photo credit: Varun Moghe
Anusha Manjani, lead counsellor, Akanksha Foundation
Creating a positive school culture for children from low income communities and advocating for their mental health with her team are only some of the tasks that Anusha Manjani has to tackle on the daily as the lead counsellor of Akanksha Foundation. “Even though it can be difficult and challenging at times what I enjoy most about my job is interacting with kids. It brings me joy and reminds me why I do what I do. I also love that I get to work with other people who are passionate about the empowerment of children,” says Manjani.
Her hectic schedule commands a closet that puts comfort first and how she keeps it from being boring is by adding a bright accessory or two. “My style is easy and because I work in the social sector the way I dress is usually understated. I try and bring in pops of colour through bindis, bangles, shoes and bags,” she adds. Currently, the 30-year-old is stocking up on minimal label Nicobar’s shirts, skirts and dresses for work but when she isn’t on the job she can be seen in a pared-back t-shirt and distressed jeans finding solace in the latest Murakami read.

Photo credit: Varun Moghe
Yashaswini Samat, chairman and managing director, Grey Group India
A little over a year ago, Yashaswini Samat became the first woman to front advertising giant Grey Group. On any given day, she can be found juggling responsibilities that span strategic planning, people management and lengthy discussions with her team. “I’m often referred to as the office mom but what I enjoy most about my role is that it allows me to work with other creatively charged individuals,” says Samat who brings a certain creativity to her sartorial sensibilities too.
Whether it’s the silhouettes you’ll spot in her wardrobe or the labels that her loyalty lies with, she has mastered a mix between the east and the west. “Advertising lets me dress in a way that’s more eclectic. I wear both saris and straight dresses to work. I also tend to accessorise contemporary separates with traditional jewellery. Some of my favourite labels are Payal Khandwala, COS and Anamika Khanna,” she says.

Photo credit:Joseph Radhik
Devika Narain, wedding designer
If there’s one thing that Devika Narain has down pat it’s the formula for fairy-tale weddings – she was behind the dreamy, headline-making nuptials of Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli. The beauty of her job, she explains, is that she gets to travel to different locations and that lends her the luxury of experimenting with her workwear. “I could be in a sari at an event on one day, and in shorts setting up on the beach the next day. There’s never scope for monotony,” says Narain who is minimal on most days but doesn’t shy away from a sartorial experiment, “I think the fact that I’m surrounded by bright colours every day and that I live in a world that is pretty over the top has led me to develop a classic personal style. That being said, I am never afraid to put on a bright blue dress or a shiny yellow top because those colours are a part of my ecosystem,” says Narain. In addition to the watch gifted by her husband and a few saris borrowed from her mother’s collection, a rich assortment of Indian and international labels such as Marks and Spencer, Zara, The Jodi Life, Raw Mango and Via East are commonplace in her work wardrobe.

Photo credit: Varun Moghe
Lakshmi Lehr, celebrity stylist
In the industry for seven years now, Lehr has dressed the likes of Sara Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Jacqueline Fernandez. On most days, her to-do list includes the creation of mood boards and sourcing pieces for her next big project. “I love the hustle and the madness that comes with my job. Every single day is different and that keeps me going,” says Lehr. So, it only makes sense then that her personal style is comfort driven with a focus on functionality. In her closet you’ll find tees and track bottoms from high-street labels such as Zara and Massimo Dutti (they see her through chaotic shooting schedules) as well pieces tuned into the season’s trends like the Gucci fanny pack and Dior canvas bag.

Photo credit: Varun Moghe
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, filmmaker
The storyteller behind acclaimed films like Nil Battey Sannata and Bareilly Ki Barfi, Iyer Tiwari fills her eco-conscious closet with labels that tell tales, “When I’m shooting, I’m usually in separates and saris from Crow, Runway Bicycle, Anavila and Paromita Banerjee as they are comfortable, breathable and sustainable,” says the 39-year-old. “I believe that shopping should have a purpose. In this age of sustainability, we should ensure that we are being socially and environmentally conscious when we purchase our clothes.” Her commitment to the environment isn’t restricted to her wardrobe but extends to her hobbies too. Besides practicing yoga regularly, the mother-of-two can be spotted gardening and tending to her house plants.

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