Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Suit yourself: How to dress like the boss

Corporate honchos weigh in on the looks that make them stand out in a crowd.

Published: Mar 11, 2018 07:41:56 AM IST
Updated: Mar 13, 2018 02:53:01 PM IST

Suit yourself: How to dress like the boss“I have around 150 suits in my wardrobe and generally buy one to two per month.”
Keshav Bansal
Director, Intex Technologies

I have a collection of various kinds of suits
from business formals to casuals. I have around 150 suits in my wardrobe and generally buy one to two per month.

I am very fond of my first suit that I bought in 2009 for my traineeship when I was doing my business management degree at Manchester University in UK. It brings back memories of my college days.

Some mistakes that are a complete no-no are an improper tie-bar, fastening all the buttons, over-accessorising and wearing your shirt collar outside.

I always prefer tailored suits rather than ready-to-wear. For my first bespoke suit experience, I went to Kena Boutique in South Delhi. I settled on a slim-fitting double-breasted suit in a deep navy, with a light blue lining and a four-by-two button arrangement. The suit continues to be the longest-serving item in my wardrobe.

My favourite accessory is the pocket square. Other accessories I wear off and on are neckties. I also have a big range of cuff links.

For a casual event I would add or remove accessories. I would go with a T-shirt in the summer or a polo neck in winters.

Suit yourself: How to dress like the boss
“I make it a point to incorporate one coloured element to make the outfit stand out.”
Swati Bhargava 

My preferred attire for formal meetings is contemporary formals. I make it a point to incorporate one bold or brightly-coloured element to make the outfit stand out. On the rare occasion that I’m dressed in black or grey, I add a bright statement bag with shoes. I own a collection of about 15+ blazers and formal jackets and around 30+ formal dresses and skirts.

An outfit I really cherish is the one
I wore for my first ever meeting with Ratan Tata. It’s a black dress from Banana Republic with a plain black top while the bottom has an eyelet applique layer. I paired the dress with a beige jacket from Karen Millen and my favourite beaded necklace from Akshdha. It was after this meeting that Mr Tata decided to invest in

Though it’s often a delicate balance between dressing in a way that is chic yet formal, well-fitted and flattering while being all business, ditching the skimpy casuals is one rule to abide by. Also, one should avoid adding jeans, leggings or spandex to their formal wear.

My favourite brands for formal
wear are Coast, Karen Millen, Banana Republic. I also love the chic but minimalistic style of Massimo Dutti, Reiss and Ted Baker.

I like to keep my accessories simple, sophisticated yet chic. My go-to accessories would be bright high heels; a designer handbag; a leather belt; necklaces—I often prefer pearls—and a ring.

If I know I have a party to attend after work, I would usually wear a dress with a formal jacket. So in the evening, I could take off the jacket and put on a funky neckpiece to change the look of the dress.

Suit yourself: How to dress like the boss“I rarely wear only dress watches with my suits —I always go for something funky.”
Rahul Kapoor 
Co-founder, Excedo Luxuria

Over the past two decades I’ve acquired over 25 suits. My suits are split between different “purposes”, with everyday suits that are ready-to-wear from the likes of Versace Collection; event suits that are made to measure from the likes of Sagal Bedi, Ozwald Boateng, Kilgour and Zegna; special occasion suits that are entirely bespoke suits—currently I have a couple of bespoke suits from Stowers (Savile Row, London) which only come out for the most deserving of occasions!

There have been a couple of suits I’ve really cherished. The first was a suit my parents got me, a bespoke suit from Redwood and Feller over 15 years ago, it was my first truly bespoke suit and the whole experience had me addicted. A love for the art and craftsmanship of tailoring was born. The second was the first suit I bought for myself, a Black chalk stripe Versace Collection suit back in 2003-04. It was a beauty and cost me, well, a lot. This suit was lucky, and whenever I wore it, at any meeting or event, they were successful and comfortably profitable.

Among my favourite designers, for formal and non-formal are Connolly, Adriano Goldschmied, and Christys’ Hats.

My favourite bespoke suit is
the most recent from Stowers, a beautiful creation in the simplest pink pinstripe cashmere beige Superfine 120. Often, beige isn’t a colour one would choose for the evening or a special occasion, but it just appealed. Besides, I already have the standard greys, blues and blacks. The suit has British-casted buttons and a vivid suit satin/silk lining. It’s a summer suit.

Having always worn colours, I do like how the latest trends have given many men confidence to step away from the blues and blacks, bringing out the purples, greens, rusts.

In terms of accessories, Penrose and Duchamp have some of the best British silk woven ties. A good pair of EL Chaussure hand patina shoes and an understated solid buckle Dunhill Belt. If it’s a more formal meeting work day, a double cuff shirt and a pair of pink gold cufflinks. I rarely wear only dress watches with my suits—I always go for something funky and fun for the work day, like a Dietrich or Lytt Labs. All topped off with a non-contrasting pocket square.

For a casual event
I would change the shirt from a white to a coloured one, swap my single monk for a smoking slipper in velvet or suede depending on the season and would keep the tie off.

Suit yourself: How to dress like the boss“Buy a cheap suit and it falls more expensive. No one cut a deal in a bad suit.”
Gaurav Bhatia
Managing Director, Sotheby’s India

I have summer suits and winter suits, a couple of tuxedos and bandhgalas (I even had that odd double-breasted suit once!). The styles? Classic two-button pin-stripe in charcoal.

My first suit from when I was 20 in New York, before my first internship at a bank, is one I cherish. My father bought it for me from Barneys, where he had his suits stitched. We went for martinis to the Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle that evening.  It was a rite of passage.

Don’t buy suits off the rack. There is no cookie-cutter suit. Why do that when you can get them made-to-measure?  It’s worth the 8 to twelve week wait. Buy a cheap suit and it falls more expensive.  No one cut a deal in a bad suit.

I look for precision and prowess in a perfectly tailored suit.  I usually buy my suits in London.  Anderson & Sheppard and Kilgour on Savile Row have impeccable cutters.  I like Brioni. Barneys in New York has a nice edit of Italian brands and Lanvin works for an evening out.  Back home in India, Raghu (Raghavendra Rathore) cuts a crisp bandhgala.

In terms of accessories, pochettes add a touch of elegance and humour. I like the ones by E. Marinella, Brunello Cucinelli and Hermès. In winter I wear pashmina pocket squares with gentle sozni embroidery.  

I recently bought a pair of vintage diamond and emerald art deco cufflinks from Sotheby’s. They make me smile every time they peep out of my double-cuffed shirts.

In winter I dress it down by wrapping a pashmina or kaani stole around my neck. In summer, I throw a muslin wrap in brighter colours from Loro Piana.

(This story appears in the 16 March, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)