We’ve always featured achievers and their wardrobes in our Spotlight series. Sudhir, a house help and cook by profession, is an achiever in his own right. He has dreams and aspirations, much like we all do. He works hard, really plans ahead, and saves up to go head on in meeting his goals, one of which, is to dress well.
Until we met him, it was hard even for us to digest the fact that we could get enough fashion content from this interview. But meeting Sudhir was both an eye-opener and a reality-check – everyone has really upped their game, when it comes to fashion. If you look at him, he’s a normal guy with a normal city-dweller fashion sense, but through our interaction with him, we realized he really knows what he’s doing, when it comes to his closet, and works towards achieving the looks that he dons. No wonder then that his peers, too, turn to him for advice.
Coming from rural Bihar, Sudhir has, and continues to work hard, with his limited income, into blending in with urban fashion – something that matches his personal tastes too.
WM: Tell us about yourself.
S: I’m from Bihar. I’ve always been fond of food…but I’m more fond of cooking, than eating. I have worked in a lot of places including Pune and Bengal. I was employed by this family for six years, of which, the last two years I have spent with them in Mumbai. I have always been into cooking. In fact, it’s a legacy, my family has always been making food for weddings. We’re a family of halwais. So this is our business.
I have other interests and hobbies too. But then a poor man cannot fulfill all his interests. We’re on limited income, we have to learn to make do with that limited money we earn. But yes, those interests that I can meet, I do.
I love shopping and listening to music, amongst other things. Whenever I get an off from work, I go out with my friends…sometimes to the mall, sometimes for movies, and some other times, we just sit somewhere and talk. However, I do not like to drink or smoke. I like to instead take care of myself and my health. I exercise, not in the gym…just on my own. But that’s all. Working people cannot have too many interests or leisure activities…if we indulged too much in leisure, who would take care of our work and responsibilities then?
One thing though, that I really love is to dress well. I cannot obviously afford to wear brands, but I make extra efforts to look for the right clothes for myself. I don’t shop very often, but I do save up, so I can purchase nice-looking outfits.
Now, Sudhir’s an otherwise subtle person. He is respectful of people, and usually comes across as an ambivert – so it’s a given that one would assume he’d be shy at first conversation. Yet, he is extremely confident in his skin and about his sense of clothing. That’s something we learnt in course of our conversation about his style:
WM: It’s interesting to know that you take keen interest in fashion. What’s your wardrobe like? How differently do you dress for each occasion?
S: My wardrobe is mostly T-shirts and jeans, since I understand that these suit me best. Even my fiancée says the same – that I look good in that combination. I don’t wear shirts and trousers as often. When it comes to colours, black and blue are my favourites. It’s simple, every colour goes well on a classic blue denim…so I don’t see any reason for anyone to not have one. I love my blue jeans. Black, again, is something that can be paired up with most colours. In accessories, I love watches and sunglasses. I have this metallic watch that I really like to wear.
Of course, when it comes to work – I work in the kitchen, so I need to be wearing something comfortable, and also something that does not get dirty easily. So, I would not wear lighter colours, especially not my white T-shirt. I would wear that maybe when I go to meet my relatives. I have some of my clothes packed in a suitcase, as you saw here at my employer’s home. But even in the bag, I do segregate my clothes – I have one pile that is only my work clothes, and the other that has some clothes for going out, in case I have to go visit someone from here itself. Sometimes, if the family here has guests over, even I should look presentable, so I would wear something that I can wear in the kitchen, but that doesn’t look old.
WM: Where does your sense of fashion come from? Is it the movies that you watch?
S: I do look up to some actors. Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and the Bhojpuri actor, Pawan Singh – I really like their choice, but, I wouldn’t blindly follow it. Some people like to follow movies, or go by what celebrities wear. But I follow my own sense when it comes to picking out clothes. I don’t blindly go by what others wear. I have my own understanding on what works for me and what doesn’t. I simply follow that. I’ve always been like that.
In fact, my friends say that I have a different choice, so often, they ask me to help them pick out clothes when we go out shopping. I’ve always liked T-shirt and jeans, even back in Bihar. I never followed how people around dressed, I would go to the market and see what was available, and out of that, if I liked something and thought it would suit me well, then I would buy it. I understand that not everything suits everyone. The understanding of how the clothes that I see in a shop, would look on me, helps me select my clothes better.
WM: You mentioned about your fiancée. Tell us about her fashion sense.
S: She is a simple woman. Her tastes are different from mine, obviously since she is in the village. In our village, women don’t usually go out much. They may go to school, or to learn stitching, which is usually not far from home. They may sometimes go out to the market, but they are always accompanied by a family member. So she doesn’t really feel the need to dress a certain way; she usually wears a salwar kameez.
Of course, when the family goes out together, or on occasions, she would dress up. The way she enjoys playing with fashion is through colours – she loves yellow and orange, so she wears those a lot. I don’t yet shop for her, but now I would start, since we’re getting married. I would let her choose her clothes when I take her out shopping, and when I buy something for her, it would definitely be something yellow or orange.
WM: And what about you? Where do you usually shop?
S: I usually go to the mall. Back in Bengal I would go to Calcutta Bazaar and Big Bazaar. Here as well, I go to Big Bazaar. I also have a fashion app on my phone, called Mr. Voonik. I have recently ordered a watch through it.
WM: Interesting, tell us more about the Mr. Voonik app.
S: Oh, the app is really nice, it makes shopping so convenient. I keep checking out all the clothes and accessories. I think they’re also priced well; sometimes I find the price fine, so I make a purchase immediately, other times, I save my selection, save up for it and come back later to buy. What I really love is that Mr. Voonik gives me everything I need to make a decision – the colours available, the size, the price. And their collections are really nice too! What I really like is the variety of watches and bracelets – that’s my section.
WM: And you must also be getting clothes (hand-me-downs) from your employers?
S: I do, but never really wear them. Like I mentioned, I have a choice of my own, and I also prefer to not wear clothes that are already worn by someone. So, I buy my clothes from the mall or the app, and I give these clothes to someone poor. At least I can buy my own clothes, there are people who cannot even buy their own clothes, I give these clothes to them.
It was interesting to see someone who wouldn’t have so much access to resources like we do, use the bit that he did, to meet his wardrobe goals. And it was equally heart-warming to see that he too, makes a conscious effort to give back to the society. We hope that Sudhir’s hard work and sincerity help him live the life he dreams of living, someday. And we hope just as much, that his story inspires you too to up your fashion game. With a limited income, people like Sudhir too, understand the importance of dressing up – how they look, matters to them. So then, what’s stopping you?