Friday, August 21, 2009

The fine art of Investing in Fine Art

A quick guide to the art market labyrinth
by Elizabeth Flock | Aug 21, 2009

Read it at Forbes

As an investment, art is growing in acceptance and prevalence. Historically, it has proven to perform better than other asset classes, especially in downturns. Studies by Barclays Capital and The Economist (in 2003 and 2005) showed that art outperformed both equities and property over both short and long periods of time.

But, like wine or stamps, art has always been considered an ‘alternative’ asset. It can be as volatile as the stock market, cannot be easily liquidated and is at its best as a long-term buy, as the last year has — painfully — shown. And, well, it’s art. It’s difficult to put numbers to it.

Milind Sathe, founder-director of, puts it succinctly: “In a world where you monitor companies and stocks on an hourly basis, well, that does not happen in art. There are no indices on artists.”

As a result, there’s a ferocious amount of pure BS floating around in the art market. So, yes, the downturn means it’s a buyer’s market, and a good time to buy art, but how the heck do you figure out all the nebulous claims and insider jargon?

The Numbers Game
What are the numbers art does give us? When the downturn hit, gallery sales of top contemporary artists were down by up to 50 percent.

Yet the figure for contemporaries has already returned to about 30-35 percent of original retail values of 2007 and 2008, says Sharmistha Ray, director of Bodhi Art Gallery, Mumbai. But wait, Ray cautions: “These are not scientific figures, they are based on a loose average of gallery sales.”

Other unscientific pulse-readers: The Indian Art Market Confidence Indicator by London-based ArtTactic dropped 23 percent from May to October 2008. And since then it’s gotten worse. Art funds that are soon maturing are scared to liquidate. Average auction prices are down too.

Is it all terrible? We can take some comfort in knowing that the seller always expects the best price, that expectations are always higher than the market. “Expectations are built overnight,” says Ray, “but take a long time to dismantle.”

It’s all about perception. Like the Sensex, art market values plummeted due to falling expectations. They are already going back up as perceptions improve. Sotheby’s auction of impressionist and modern art raised $55.1 million at the end of June, well within pre-sale estimates. It’s not all rosy yet, but try to think long term.

The Recession Is Your Friend
Very belatedly, artists are now negotiating prices. Like real estate or oil, art is getting healthier with much-needed price corrections. Aditi Khurana, former Senior Manager of Palette Art Gallery in Delhi and current project head of the arts initiative ‘Contemplate,’ says the boom meant people stopped differentiating between good and bad art, which is correcting itself now.

And the art itself will get better. Khurana says, “When demand was high, artists were producing works at a fast pace, and it affected the quality of their work. In a way, the slowdown is the best thing. Now there is sanity, correction, and maturity.”

Business ethics should also improve. Khurana thinks the art market is becoming Darwinian: Only the best artists will survive.

Beware of Contemporary Art
The bubble has burst. And about time too. Contemporary pai­ntings that were being sold for the price of a Mumbai suburban flat — plus your kids’ education abroad — are now going for much cheaper.
Take contemporary artist Anju Dodiya. In 2000, she was selling at Rs. 1 lakh through galleries. She sold the same kind of work in 2007 for Rs. 50 lakh! And now, prices for her pieces have fallen 30 percent, back to rational levels.

ArtTactic estimated in June that the average auction price of all contemporary art saw a 76.2 percent fall. Contemporary art followed the shape of the sub-prime market. Up breathtakingly fast. Then back down again to sensible levels.

Deepak Shahdadpuri, art collector and board member of SaffronArt, gives a more famous example: Subodh Gupta. The man’s art work took the same rollercoaster as Dodiya (though to even higher levels). Currently, his art is selling at prices between $150,000–$200,000, 85 percent below their peak, and a much more sane level than the boom time.

“But at least his works are selling,” Shahdadpuri says. “Many other artists who rose during the boom have no buyers today at any price.” He attributes the fall not only to inflated prices, but also to the difficulty of assessing how artists with little track record will develop over time.

In early July, a series of auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s saw old master paintings outperform the summer’s impressionist, modern and contemporary sales for the first time in several years. Perhaps it’s time to go back to the ancients.

Ignore the Hype
Contemporary art is just one glaring example. Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, famously said, “The world is filled with so much hype and PR bull. Frankly, it all comes out in the end.”

Sathe points out that it’s not very difficult to hype up an artist, a body of work, or a show; investors must try to see through that. “Any investor in art has to develop the ability for himself or find someone he can trust to decide if the work of an artist will stand the test of time.”

Shahdadpuri says the best way to do this is to visit museums, galleries and shows. “Speak to artists, collectors and curators. Read as much as you can about the artists, art history and understand its relevance. You need to have a passion for art. Buy what you like. If it is only about the money, [the investor] will probably end up losing money in this ‘investment.’” And you probably won’t see through the hype.

Erm, What Exactly Stands the Test of Time?
Admittedly, it’s not always easy to tell. Decorative art — art intended for ornamentation purposes, that you buy to match your living room’s shade of paint — certainly doesn’t. As investors’ pockets have gotten shallower, many are falling into the decorative art trap. But experts agree it is never a shrewd investment. It’s just... pretty.

Cheap Is Usually Not Good, and Expensive Has to be History
Collectors and dealers are now being forced to offer art at much better prices than the lunatic levels of years past. Watch out for good deals at competitive prices, but be wary of bad art flooding the market on the cheap, which has been happening for the last few years. Make a promise to yourself only to buy pieces which qualify as high quality art. Sathe says that you should look out for the “thinking artist, an artist who uses his skill to make a comment or express something, and respond to a social situation.” As we said, no decorative art. Ray stresses a mantra she once heard from a French collector: “Only spend $100,000 or more on art work if you are buying a piece of history.”

Stay Close to Home
This is a buyer’s market, and the market is at your door. Well, sort of. The total auction size of the Indian art market grew from $5 million in 2003 to $150 million in 2008. Subodh Gupta, M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Anish Kapoor and Raqib Shaw commanded million dollar sales even after the downturn hit.
(UK-based phenomenon, Damien Hirst, laid off 17 members of his staff that made the pills for his multi-million-dollar medicine cabinet series, according to the Guardian.)

The rest of the world is waking up to the value of Asian art, too. In August, Sotheby’s moved auctions of Asian contemporary art from New York to Hong Kong; dealers said this showed Sotheby’s growing commitment to the Asian art market. But remember: The art market bubble has burst. That includes Indian and Asian art. Ray says an investor shouldn’t focus on whether it’s Indian or Asian — it depends on the artist and the work.

Don’t be Afraid to Buy a Ningyo Doll
Paintings are not even one percent of the art out there, yet somehow they get all the attention. It’s time to balance your portfolio. Crafts, statues, antiques, toys, and other art objects are currently selling at low prices in India. Experts expect they will ascend into the stratosphere in the next 10 years.

Osian’s Auction House recently got into Japanese samurai helmets and armours, African tribal masks, Polish film posters, Chinese and Soviet political propaganda artefacts, magic memorabilia — and those mysterious Japanese ningyo dolls.

Ray suggests investors look at India’s heritage: Miniatures, Picchwais, Bengal School, antique jewelry, and old-period sculptures. And Sathe sees potential for significant growth in the market for memorabilia and photography. Newly popular types of art like these are the best investment right now. Basic investing rules apply, Sathe says. “For any portfolio, an investor needs to spread the risk.”

No More Queues
In the boom period, art collectors were plagued by galleries who refused to sell to buyers not well-known in the art world, forced quick decision-making in the fear of losing the work to someone else, and long lines to wait for artworks. “The artists and galleries may be cribbing about the downturn but collectors, especially collectors who have liquidity are thrilled. They can now focus on building their collections without getting in queue and begging for works,” says Shahdadpuri.

Before You Buy…
Decide how much money you want to spend. “Putting in $100,000 will get you some good buys,” advises Ray. Consider investment timeframe, risk factors, the right price, and authenticity; they all seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many investors forget them. Too many have bought high-priced art without adequate documentation. And because the art market at present is especially dynamic, risk factors are ever more relevant.

Sathe gives this example: “Some people don’t make sure the material will last and then the painting deteriorates in 10 years so it’s not recognisable.”

More than any asset, it’s important to be sure of longevity. Like a car, it should last at least until the time you want to sell it. “Focus on four-five artists you really believe in and buy them in depth. Be discriminating in selecting only good work by these artists and then pay a bit more to get good works,” suggests Ray.

Not Convinced? You Can Still be Productive in the Interim
If you really want to sell, first get rid of the works you can live without at a price good enough for them. Like those über-trendy, doomed contemporary art pieces (though it’s best to wait for the market to go back up). Network with art connoisseurs; research planned investments; maintain your collection; insure your artworks; catalogue and document them. And may be, just may be, buy a little ningyo doll.

An American's Guide To American Food in India

Uncle Sam's favourite foods are found all over the country
by Elizabeth Flock | Aug 8, 2009

Read it at Forbes

Homesickness grabs you by the throat, but food-sickness sinks its claws into your stomach and won’t let go until you get that back-home food you crave: The dish your mother fed you as a kid; the after-school snack you looked forward to all day; the meal only your hometown can get right.

Finding American food isn’t easy — tougher still because the cuisine defies easy definition, being inspired mostly by immigrants — but for any one born in the USA, they know what it is. I thought it impossible to find the New York Deli sandwich outside of Manhattan, or the zing of Cajun fish outside Louisiana. And certainly not the Jewish water bagel.

American food is here, all over India, and not just in tourist towns or five star hotels. So, if you’re a homesick expat, or an Indian looking for that nebulous “American” cuisine, come ’n’ get it!

The All-Day Breakfast
A meal that will leave you loosening your belt and closing your eyes in a food hangover for hours afterward, but it’s well worth it. Fluffy waffles, stacks of pancakes, fatty burgers, hot dogs, malts and shakes are ubiquitous 50s American diner food, and the All-American Diner , New Delhi, has it all in true greasy form.
The All-American Diner, Habitat World at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
Tel: 011 43663162

The East Coast Jewish Bagel
The bagel with cream cheese is the staple New York American Jewish breakfast. The ideal bagel is topped with salt and malt and then boiled in water before baking it in an oven, and is puffy with a moist crust. At the Bagel Shop, Mumbai, their holey bread isn’t exactly the real deal. But I won’t kvetch too much — because although they skipped out on the salt and malt, they do make real ‘water’ bagels. That alone makes it worth the trip, even for goys.
The Bagel Shop, Anand Villa, 13 Pali Mala Road, Bandra West, Mumbai.
Tel: 022 26050178

West Coast Raw Foodism
American health gurus embraced raw foodism, and California totally adopted it. The promise: eating uncooked and unprocessed food promises a beach-ready body! (Believe it or not, it can also taste great). At the hippie-inspired Mocha Mojo (Chennai and Mumbai), you can eat a whole raw food garden lasagna before you realise they used almond paste instead of cheese.
Mocha Mojo, 72, 1st Avenue, Indra Nagar, Adyar, Chennai.
Tel: 044 42337025

Down South BBQ
Summer and backyard get-togethers and Independence Day celebrations just wouldn’t be complete without a dad in an apron messing with the charcoal grill, hovering over the meat. At The Barbeque, Taj Bengal, Kolkata , they use a gas fire, but the result is the same: Sizzling chargrilled chicken, pork chops and lamb.
The Barbeque, Taj Bengal, 34B, Belvedere Road, Alipore, Kolkata.
Tel: 033 22233939

The New York Deli Sandwich
A Deli sandwich says a lot about a person. What kind of bread? And which cold cut do you want: Turkey? Roast beef? Then choose your cheese; and then how many toppings; and what kind of sauce; the type of wet salad. The counter of the Indigo Deli , Mumbai, is so well stocked it’s nightmare for the indecisive. But it’s an NYC foodie’s dream.
The Indigo Deli, 5, Pheroze Building, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharishi Marg, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai.
Tel: 022 6655 1010

The Cops-on-Breaks-Inspired Doughnut
American movie fans know that all highway cops really do is hang out in coffee shops and eat doughnuts. But hey, everyone in America loves doughnuts, even Homer Simpson. At Mad Over Donuts , Mumbai, they clearly share the love, serving ringed donuts and filled donuts and iced donuts, with kitschy names like Nutty Buddy and Mamma Mia.
Mad Over Donuts, 63, Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, Mumbai.
Tel: 022 3211 0000 (Plus three other locations in Mumbai, and two in Delhi)

Louisiana Cajun
In New Orleans, Cajun is king. The seasoned, spiced, hearty meals of rice and game and fish go down real smooth with jazz. India’s well-versed on spice, so Arthur’s Theme , Pune, does a pretty good imitation of Down South jalapeno and cheese poppers, fish with cayenne pepper, fish croquettes, and chicken marinated in Cajun sauce with ailioli.
Arthur’s Theme, 2,Vrindawan Apartment,Lane No 6, North Main Road, Koregaon Park, Pune.
Tel: 020 26132710

Wood-Fired Oven New York Pizza
You can’t get a real Chicago-style pizza outside the Windy City. But you can get a damn good replication of its cousin, the thin-crust wood-fired oven pizza, at La Terrasse, Pondicherry. The simple semi-open-air joint has pizzas with every kind of cheese imaginable and toppings like pineapple that will truly melt between oven and your mouth.
La Terrasse, No 5, Near Beach Corner, Subbiah Street, Puducherry Ho, Pondicherry.
Tel: 413 2220809

The New York Deli sandwich

The New York Deli sandwich
The California Maki Roll
When Japanese Sushi chefs flocked to LA in the 60s to make their fortunes, their experiments brought the inside-out California roll into existence. Containing cucumber, avocado and crab meat or imitation crab stick, and an outer layer of rice, it’s the perfect starter for the uninitiated. And at Harima, Bangalore, their Japanese chef got the California roll just right.
Harima, 131, Devatha Plaza, Residency Road, Bangalore.
Tel: 080 41325757

Tex Mex Fajitas
In the southwest US, Spanish colonial settlers, Native Americans and Mexicans brought mouth-watering fajitas across the border. The dish of grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla, with added veggies, sour crème, and guacamole can be found in all its glory at the Rodeo Bar, New Delhi, along with mock saddles for seats and cowboy-hat-wearing waiters.
Rodeo Bar, 12A, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
Tel: 011 23354859

American Vegetarian
Vegetarians exist in the US, believe it or not. And it’s clear that Bean Me Up , Anjuna-Vagator, Goa, was started by an expat American. It gives you the whole range of substitute meats: Tofu, seitan, and tempeh, the organic salads Californians love, vegan cakes and pies, and of course soyabean, which the place does justice to with soya whipped cream and even soysage! You can almost pretend you’re at Portland’s hippest new vegan café.
Bean Me Up, 1639 Deulvaddo, Anjuna-Vagator, Goa.
Tel: 0832 2273479

Seattle Coffee and Cakes
Seattle is known for two things: rock music and coffee. After all, it’s the place Starbuck’s was born. In this town, coffee is a religion. And just like chai goes with biscuits, American coffee must be accompanied by a muffin or cake. At Moonpeak Espresso, McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh, you can get just that: A slice of Seattle with your Tibetan meditation.
Moonpeak Espresso, Temple Road, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.

Fried Chicken
Don’t go to KFC, I beg you. The breaded mixture or batter for fried chicken is something you have to get just right. And at Apple Bee Inn , Uttarakhand, they get it. May be it’s influence of people like Tom Alter’s parents, American missionaries long settled in the area. Or may be that it’s not a fast food joint. It’s a good thing the restaurant doubles as a hotel; proper fried chicken has a tendency of weighing you down, and you’ll want to sprawl out on your bed after gorging.
Apple Bee Inn, Village Masrana, Dhanaulty Road, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.
Tel: 0135 2115290

The Health Food Craze
After McDonald’s, health food became obese America’s new obsession. At Eco-nut , Kodaikanal, in this town founded by Americans, you can find every variation of US dieting made delicious: Granola-y cereal, dried fruits and seed mixes, and even home-made yoghurt. Eat up and you’ll be ready to master Kodi’s hills.
Eco-nut, PT Road, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.
Tel: 04542 43296

American Style Burger
Since the time the cheeseburger originated in Pasadena, California, a true American burger has evolved to include the works: Pickles, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, bacon, sauces, and ... that’s just the start. At Café 0294 , Udaipur, they’ve just got lettuce and tomato but the meat patty is juicy and the buns are soft.
Café 0294, Hotel Raja Place, Burman Chambers, UIT Bridge, Saheli Marg. Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Tel: 0294 25600400

Elvis Presley’s Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Elvis may not have invented the sandwich, but this was his favourite snack. Him, and most American kids, who wolf them down as an after-school snack. And at Peace, Puri, they’ve figured out the perfect ratio of spread to banana.
Peace Restaurant, Chakratirtha Road, Puri, Orissa.

Thanksgiving Dinner — Turkey, Cranberry and the Works
Arguably the most American of meals, it has its origins with the first European settlers and their feasts with Native Americans. Every holiday season, Le Brasserie, Le Meridien, Bangalore , serves up an authentic imported Butterball Turkey and cranberry sauce. If only they had American football on big screen TVs, and cousins, and drunk uncles, and the Macy’s Day Parade... well, maybe food can’t get rid of all homesickness.
Le Brasserie, Le Meridien Hotel, PB No 174, 28, Sankey Road, Bangalore, Karnataka.
Tel: 080 22262233

All you need to know about Business Suits

Get yourself tailor-made for the business life
by Elizabeth Flock, Nilofer D'Souza | Jul 25, 2009

Read it at Forbes

hey’re alien to that amorphous thing called Indian culture, and a decidedly unwise choice for the weather in most parts of the country. But in the climate-controlled corridors of the business world, you’d have to be extremely successful — and brave — to get away with a suitless wardrobe. It must be said: Women in India have more choices. Many of our top female executives favour the traditional elegance of a sari. Men in the boardroom almost exclusively wear suits.
Our more seasoned readers are, we know, well-versed in matters sartorial. But, for the benefit of the ones starting out on their journeys to high places, Forbes India, with some expert help, put together a quick, but comprehensive guide to the business suit.

The Experts
Men: Tom Ford, creator/designer of the TOM FORD line. James Bond wears TOM FORD suits
Anna Zegna, Image Director of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, Italian fashion house
Gautam Singhania, Chairman and MD, the Raymond Group
Zulfi Shahpurwala, Managing Partner, Kachin’s, a Mumbai-based tailor for bespoke suits.

Women: Charu Sachdev, CEO, TGS International, a franchisee of the Stella McCartney brand
Sathyajit R., COO, Allen Solly, Madura Garments
Helena, Bangalore fashion designer.

When it comes to styles, says Tom Ford, “A man should always choose a style that he feels comfortable in — that is the key to dressing appropriately.”

Italian Narrower, with strongly padded shoulders and tapered sides, no vents; best for the tall, slim man.

British Regal, military-like, with double vents, moderately tapered sides, and minimal shoulder padding.

American More casual, usually with a single vent; conveys a relaxed, younger image.

Mandarin Influenced by traditional Eastern cultures; with a high, square neck. (Image Crobis)

Body types

The suit should be shaped at the waist (but not made too slim), with a full body and broad shoulders. Pants should sit below your navel.

Large Waisted
A double-breasted suit will hide the paunch. Pants may sit above or below the stomach — as per personal comfort.

Pinstripes are a bad idea, you’ll just look too tall. Go for a well-tailored, double-breasted suit.

A single-breasted two- or three-button suit will make you look taller.

Counterview Singhania says, “I don’t believe in body types. I say wear what makes you comfortable. I like a double-breasted suit. But it’s about what you want to project.”


Gold goes well with dark skin, silver with lighter skin. (Image: Omega)
Should match your shirt, suit and skin.
Money Clips
Wallets are too bulky for suits; a money clip can hold your money, credit cards, keys and mobile all in a flat, lightweight place.
Beware, tie-clips can appear flashy if the design or metal is too bold.
Pocket Squares
As subtle as possible.

Fabrics, colours
When it comes to fabric, Singhania is emphatic: “Wool is the most comfortable, because it’s made of natural fibers, and has breathability. I only wear pure wool.”
Poly-wool, a polyester/wool hybrid, is cheaper and easier to maintain.
Can you wear a linen suit to a meeting?
The experts say yes, but at your own peril; it crushes and the creases remain. Linen states that you’re laid back. It’s best for summer.

Some colours are best avoided. White went out after Travolta and Mithun Chakraborty. Baby blues, greens and the like are decidedly uncool. Stick to black, navy blue, and grey. Eighty percent of suits sold in the world are in these colours. Keep brown, and its off-shoots, mushroom, beige, and olive, for casual meetings.
Tip: Zegna says beige suits will be big this summer.

Shahpurwala says, “There are two kinds of people in this world — a blue person, and a black person.” And he insists solid colours are best: “Nothing too obvious or jarring; the colour should be subtle.” Singhania thinks a man can pull off any colour, as long as it’s in a darker shade. That is, if it’s burgundy, it had better be dark burgundy.

The Rules
Zegna says if you can remember one thing, it’s this: “It’s important that a man wears the suit, rather than the suit wears the man.”


Singhania says the knot is the most important part of the tie. The most easy and popular is the four-in-hand or Windsor. Keep the pattern simple. Don’t wear the same colour tie and shirt.

¼ inch of the shirt should show at the collar while standing, and ¼ inch at the cuff.

Unless you’re a Michael Jackson-standard dancer, no white. Socks should be one shade lighter or darker than your pants and reach mid-calf.

Shahpurwala warns that if the jacket isn’t perfect, it will ride back, and if it’s too tight, the shirt will pull down and hurt your neck.

Tom Ford says, “Men should always have their jackets buttoned. It is the easiest way to sharpen the silhouette and lose 10 pounds.” Shahpurwala differs — he suggests keeping one button unbuttoned while standing and unbuttoning all buttons when you sit.

Should flow smoothly down the legs, with no bulges. Not too tight at the crotch. Must rest gently at the top of the shoe.

Black goes well with black and grey suits; brown is good for navy suits.

In style THIS YEAR
Side vents give an accent to your waist
Peaked lapels for single breasted suits
Three-piece suits, wait for winter!
Wider ties are replacing skinny ones
Jackets wider, with stronger shoulders
Double-breasted and classic two-button suits

The best suits are bespoke, custom-made for you. Shahpurwala says, “The suit needs to fit you like a glove.” While it is the most expensive option, bespoke is cheaper in India than in the West. Slightly cheaper: Made-to-measure, where you can pick a suit off the rack and get it altered for you. And, of course, international designers, like Zegna, Valentino, or Ford, make amazing off-the-rack suits.
Jackets are made in three ways:

Fused: The cheapest option.
Semi-fused (half-canvassed): Half-stitched, has two layers.
Sartorial (canvassed): Made entirely by hand, the most comfortable and most expensive. Has a middle floating layer that you can find by pinching the suit. “The construction is essential to ensure an elegant draping,” Zegna says.

Contemporary A more fitted look, usually with shorter jackets. Cotton, linen, silk or satin, and in a wide range of colours. Best for the more daring soul moving away from the classic.

Mix it up a bit: Go for the classic cut, but with more modern fabrics and colours. Or tone down the formality with a bright tank-top instead of a shirt.
If you’re comfortable in a skirt, a timeless A-line or a pencil skirt works best.
If you plan to buy suits every season, indulge in passing trends like pleated skirts.

Classic Jacket with padded shoulders and pockets; a straight fit, over formal shirt and trousers. Typically black, blue or grey wool. Works best if you’re a recent suit convert, or if you have no clue what the person you’re going to meet is like.

Body types
Women’s figures can be broken down into three main categories, within which there exist many more.


A three-button jacket tones down the heaviness on top; high-waist pants balance out the bottom half.


Short jackets with boot-cut pants hide the flaws.

For both the top- and bottom-heavy figures, if you prefer skirts, choose the A-line; the pencil skirt will not be flattering


The hourglass
Most women hate you. Never mind. Play up your figure with a three-piece — waistcoat, jacket and trousers — or use just a waistcoat. Try tapered trousers or pair your waistcoat or jacket with a pencil skirt.

In style this year
“The Jumpsuit is a big trend internationally,” says Charu Sachdev, CEO, TSG International. “Also, this season the suits are slouchy and slightly oversized. The suits can be used as separates — the longer boyfriend jacket with the strong shoulder and the pushed-up sleeve can be worn over little cocktail dresses or with cropped pants.”

Jumpsuits are worth the investment if you have a lot of evenings to dress up for; as a business suit, it doesn’t make the cut.

Tapered-fit pants have become very popular, but for most Indian women, it doesn’t work. Tapered pants accentuated the hips, so they work best if you’ve got a narrow waist.

A one button pant suit is a polished and easy look to pull off. It accentuates your neckline and can be worn with a blouse or tee-shirt underneath.

The Rules
Women’s business wear has more variations in styles and colours than men’s suits, and far fewer conventions. There are, though, a few sensible guidelines.


You must have that gorgeous white shirt. Choose frills in front if you are small-busted, or a simple fitted white T-shirt with a V-neck if you’re big in the bust. Fabrics can range from cotton to silk to even crepe. Stock up on the kind that fits you best, hiding the figure flaws.

Nail polish in blacks or blues come across as very loud. Keep it simple and elegant with pearly whites or beiges.

Even when seated, the skirt should fall below the knee to be office appropriate.

Don’t overdo the make up.

Women’s jackets are usually stitched with the lapels right-over-left, the opposite of men’s suits.

The second must-have: A pair of tried-out heels that give you all-day comfort. This helps you avoid blisters on those trying days when you need to walk across different kinds of surfaces (gravel, concrete, marble, carpetted hallways, stairs).

Jewellery Pearls — white, pink, or grey — are the safest way to dress up a classic business suit. To notch up to the contemporary look, a simple long chain with stud earrings, or, conversely, long earrings and a short chain coupled with a chunky bracelet.

Shoes For the classic look, stick with regular pump heels. A bit wilder: Wedge heels with a gladiator look — but they may be a bit too much for a formal meeting.

We recommend keeping it simple and functional. If you tote a laptop and files, choose one that holds the lot plus essential purse contents. It projects a crisp, clear-cut image; better than staggering into conference rooms festooned with several bags.