In conversation with Dr. Samita Nandy

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Is styling for workplace important for women?

Yes, style is important for workplace where we serve with character. Styling is an aesthetic expression of character, which is essential for offering service at any workplace.

Does looking professional mean looking boring or does dressing up for work means you want to look attractive?

Professional does not mean boring or too serious. In fact we can have serious fun with what we choose to wear, especially when it comes to ethical fashion supporting human rights, animal rights, and environmental ethics. I highly recommend fair trade and sustainable clothing that can be fashionable. Dressing up then does not mean looking attractive for distracting co-workers but is simply an expression and appreciation of character and overall quality of life. 

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How do you view fashion for the working women in India?

The current fashion tends to reflect ideals of Western modernity for working women in India. Some women have a sense of ‘fusion fashion’ where they include wearing of ethnic scarves and other accessories in Western modern dressing – I think that is pretty cool and contemporary. Instructors at schools and colleges, however, tend to wear traditional clothing to uphold timeless educational values taught since the past. 

What are some of the basic areas where ethnic dressing and professional dressing differ?

For most working women, ethnic and professional dressing often differs in terms of what’s dominant in a particular cultural space. For example, school education reflects dominant local values so the dress code for Indian teachers tends to be primarily ethnic. In contrast, businesses that work in more international settings would encourage dress codes that reflect what’s often globally dominant i.e., Western modernity. Nevertheless, fusion fashion with ethnic accessories is becoming increasingly popular around the world.

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Other than internationally accepted shirt and trousers, what do you think Indian women can consider - specially women in 30s and 40s?

Women in their 30s and 40s should consider what’s aligned with their individual character rather than fitting into social narratives based on chronological age – that would perpetuate ‘lookism’. Elegant dresses and skirts, both Eastern and Western, are always great for workplaces.

Dr Samita Nandy earned her PhD in media and celebrity culture from the Department of Media and Information at Curtin University, Australia. She is currently the director of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies and writes as a cultural critic on fame. Samita Nandy has been featured on CBC, CTV, and OMNI TV as well as in The Globe and Mail and Chatelaine, among others. Her work has been published in the books The Performance of Celebrity, The Emotions Industry, and Mobile and Digital Communication: Approaches to Public and Private.

Riddhi GhoshComment