Style can sometimes translate to arrogance. I grew up in Punjab and I remember the 50s – there were landowners with deep voices, broad shoulders, impeccable manners, great style, and an ability to wield a fork and a gun with equal elan. I was inspired by their style, but not by their arrogance.
My brother was an epitome of style, and so was my father, Tek Ansal. Since I spent my early years with both of them, some of it rubbed off on me. Icons and inspirations are important I believe. My father’s dressing flair was reflected in his leather boots, Panama hats, dinner jackets and Pathani suits.
Suits, as far as possible, must be branded or bespoke. Off-the-shelf ones just don’t fit right. My favourite are Armani suits. Also I am a little conservative in my choice of suits – they are usually double-breasted or pin-striped.
Experiment with jacket colours. I even have powder blue and pastel pink jackets in my wardrobe. They look best with classic denims and white shirts.
Even today I get my trousers, achkans and sherwanis tailored from a man who comes home for fittings, since readymade ones don’t fit too well. If you get a good tailor, bespoke will be the biggest weapon in your style arsenal.
Make sure that you observe really stylish people and learn from them. Style is as much an acquired quality as an inherited one.
Brands are important, but buying brands blindly won’t make you stylish. Pick up whatever fits your sensibility, your lifestyle, your age and your body, regardless of the brand. I don’t care much for labels. I would pick an Armani suit from a fancy European boutique or spend the same on a stunning handmade piece that I may chance upon in the back of beyond. Fashion is all about impulse.
Cultural icons and inspirations are important. My style, over the years, has echoed the people I have admired – from Mick Jagger to David Bowie and Marlon Brando.
Many men ignore to stock the right kind of formal dressing. I suggest adding sharp dinner jackets with playful piped collars, pastel-coloured ties, velvet bandhgalas and even Pathani suits and shawls to your wardrobe for formal occasions, festivals and evening outs.
Accessories define style so be careful about what you buy. They will reflect your personality more than the clothes. My favourites are a Franck Muller watch and Patrick Cox shoes.
Before your clothes, your shoes do the talking for you. I have more than 30 pairs of shoes, some from British designer Paul Smith, some handmade ones from Christian Dior. I like my shoes to be bit overstated, especially in their shapes, like ones with pointed toes or with slight embellishment on them.
Finer things in life go beyond the clothes you wear or the watch you sport. A home also reflects your style, so spend on it as much as you would on your wardrobe. Pieces of heritage pieces or antiques will add character to your home. Add art to the blend and you will truly have made your mark as a stylish individual.
Style is a continuously evolving process and be ready to change things that don’t work after a while.