The Incredible Indian ‘9-yarder’

Author: Athira Premarajan

Formal wear for Indian corporate professionals has always been a head-scratcher. Of course, the men lose the blazer jacket and boom, a comfy formal outfit is born. But for women professionals, unfortunately, it’s a lot different and difficult. Starting from choosing proper clothing for an interview to owning a formal blazer for high-tie corporate events, Indian women go through a lot of dilemmas in choosing a quality outfit that says both professional and made for the Indian scenario and climate – A combination that can probably lead to committing a fashion crime, that could hurt the confidence of self and eyes of spectators.

It seems the western wardrobe has gulped us into thinking that the choices of formal wear are limited to grey-blue-white-black tones that seemingly represent the “glass ceiling” (hopefully not) and that accommodate the chilly climatic conditions of the west. Thanks to foreign invaders, we are forced to believe that formals are theirs and informal wear, is ours. But before we sweep the traditional wears of the picture in exchange for a cosmopolitan look, it is necessary to stroll through a patch of life events that the Pepsi lady’s autobio shares.

Eager to fit into the Yale candidature prospects for a summer job, and in her limitation to buying a budget-friendly interview outfit, Indra Nooyi bought her very first business suit with her entire savings of 50 dollars. As she calls it, it was – “the single best expenditure in my life so far”. But the pride of her first purchase didn’t hold long as she was confronted with collective gasps, from those dressed in the above-mentioned, “glass ceiling” tone outfits (PI – pun intended). But for what’s it worth and for the record, the interview went fine, and she was one of the two selected candidates. But she broke down in front of the director of career development, who simply advised going with her style for the next one. Better yet, she threw on her favourite turquoise silk saree for the second interview, which again she nailed, for a better position. The highlight of the story though is not about the wins she made in the interviews but, she wore the incredible Indian ‘9-yarder’ to work every day in an office in Indianapolis. Although the price she had to pay was being left behind by colleagues to attend client meetings, which she considers a small price for owning her style and choice.

Of course, the sleeky blazers and high-heel tip toes add an extra accent to your confidence. But should everyone fit into the truth of a few? Guess the answer is no. This short piece from My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future by Indra Nooyi just straight away swipes off the corporate wardrobe pressure that many millennials and other generation professionals face. Yes, we try to fit in – to not be judged, ace that interview, or make a few heads turn to our style, or just it has become convenient over the years. But for what it’s worth, the whole idea of comfort and westernization doesn’t always seem to work with Indian corporate professionals. The best practice inspirer here would be the Silicon Valley crew who set the trendsetting jeans and casual tees as office wears, just for a while, before it went back to MIB or MIG.  But thanks for setting the trend as Indian offices have accepted the lower key version of the west as business casuals.