I don’t think I have a signature style. The only thing constant is my weakness for quality. But signature style? I don’t think so. And I prefer it that way. How boring would it be to have a consistent style? To kill the spontaneity in your dressing, which I think is the very essence of style. Style is a self expression, a metaphor of my creativity, an emotion that captures how I am feeling on that particular day. To have a consistent style statement would be to express the same mood every day.
But, yes, I do have little signatures. There are some style favourites that fall into a signature bucket list of style. It is that little extra. That little extra piece of swag. Accessories like a shawl, a crisp tie or the perfect pocket square—that’s my thing. They always add that je ne sais quoi. And always surprise.
Style to me is elegance in its purest form, artisanal but effortless.
I like the slow luxury of Hermès. Understated. Simply quality. I can never get enough of their ties or pocket squares. They have it just right. It is possibly one of the only brands that you could blindfold me and make me choose and chances are anything I pick I will like.
The best things in life come in an orange box. My addiction to Hermès started at 18. One cold fall morning on the day of my first internship with a bank in New York City, my mother gave me a long, beautiful rectangular box with a brown ribbon that silently whispered ‘Hermès’. I knew from that day that I had expectations to match. My father and grandfather had worn Hermès ties before that. It was more like a rite of passage.
Today, I have more than 60 Hermès ties in various patterns—from horses to little turtles and candy canes to pumpkins. In all colours. Vibrant and with a sense of humour. They can jumpstart any suit, whatever the colour or material. I hoard these ties. I can’t explain why. When I see a new colour or a design, I just have to have it. It is inexplicable. That they hand-spin their own silk, and the most perfect silk, is perhaps one of the reasons. And, that perhaps the ties are always classic and never boring.
A pocket square or pochette is my instant pick-me-up, much like red lipstick for women, I guess. From Pucci to Hermès and Otis Batterbee to Charvet, I have boxes of these little square pieces of magic—in cotton for spring-summer and silk for fall-winter and even in pure cashmere for more formal occasions. My pure cashmere natural pash colour pocket square is really the perfect accessory with a dark charcoal suit. I am known for these playful little pieces of cloth and they can take the drab away from any meeting in an instant. A playful distraction—that little extra that shows you care.
India’s ultimate fashion totem for men, however, remains the shawl—yards of pure heritage delicately woven on soft cashmere. Be it a simple pashmina or an elaborate jamavar, it never ever disappoints. From heirloom pieces to unique younger brands like Andraab, Jahnavi and The Kashmir Loom, I collect these with a passion. I am enjoying the recent innovation in shawls in India and their smaller, more manageable counterparts—the stoles. Wrap it on a leather jacket in the fall and it is such a statement. Chic and understated. Perfect for cold boardrooms, they can warm you up in an instant, and tell so much about your appreciation for your culture.
Every man must have a shawl to dress up an Indian outfit or dress down a suit. Wear it in Europe or anywhere else in the world and see how they stop and stare. It's that thing I always do on my trips abroad. It is such a wonderful expression of one’s indigenous culture and handcrafted heritage.
What I love about these little pieces of magic, be it the tie, pocket square or shawl, is that they do not overdo. They only add a natural elegance and style.
No story of mine is complete without accessories. It is another world out there. Go play!
Gaurav Bhatia is a luxury aficionado, crisp dresser and tastemaker.
Follow him on @Champagneboy75