The Monsoon season has arrived with a bang… actually with a splash! If you have been following the news then you know that reports of flooding have come in from Rajasthan to Imphal. Once the romanticism of rains, the chai-pakora fetish wears off, we will gravitate to mundane issues like what to wear to office during monsoon? In India, commuting to work in the rains can be more painful than the other days. Flooded roads, splashing puddles, stuffy buses and trains and long traffic jams become a daily affair. You are not only spending lesser time at work, clothes take longer to dry. So how does one ensure that what you wear to the office in the rainy season is work appropriate and comfortable? If you are thinking of doing a google search about this, be prepared to trawl through tonnes of articles with things like shorts & capris, leggings with polyester kurtis & small cotton scarves and trench coats with cropped pants or jelly shoes, candy coloured plastic watches and gumboots. All great advice for college going girls I must say but will not adhere to the corporate dress code. Before you decide your outfits, think of the following:
What to think about before planning your monsoon attires for work?
Know your Dress Code
The Indian weather is not suited for business formal and hence most corporates in India have a Business Casual dress code. For men, this means a full sleeved shirt and trousers with closed toe shoes. For women, the rules are less defined and hence all manner of outfits from kurtis to dresses can work at the workplace. It is however, essential to know the dress code policy in detail. Some offices do not allow round necked tee shirts for example. Another softer aspect is knowing what works culturally.
What is the air conditioning like?
If I had a rupee for every monsoon day that I have shivered in the office, I could buy myself some Louboutins! As ambient temperature drops, what used to be a comfortably cool office in summer becomes a freezer. Add to this damp or wet clothing and you have a recipe for falling sick.
How do you commute?
If you drive, carpool or take a taxi to work, you need to dress differently as compared to taking a train or a bus. If you are one of the lucky few who get to walk to work, your investment will be different. So think about what you will need to be comfortable on your commute.
What do you normally wear?
Let us face it, this is the most important of them all. If you are a trousers and top kind of girl, suddenly asking you to wear sheath dresses and pencil skirts is not going to work! The idea is to stay within your comfort and style zone and not add adapting to a new wardrobe to your list of worries.
Okay, now that you know these factors, let us actually deconstruct office appropriate outfits and how to make them monsoon-friendly.
What to Wear to Office during Monsoon?
Switch to Lighter and Quick Drying Fabrics
Now this will work regardless of your style. Nylon and Polyester are both lightweight and quick-drying. On their own, they are more suited for active wear but a cotton and polyester blend would work well for tops, kurtis and dresses. There are plenty of options available in the market in all styles and sizes so you should be able to find one that appeals to you. The best part about these is that they do not turn transparent or stick excessively to your body when soaked. Rayon is a good option too, I especially like the fall of Viscose Rayon (which I think goes by the name of Semi Crepe – correct me if I am wrong) but these need more care like dry cleaning. Liva blends with Nylon and Polyester are a great option too. I really like the feel and drape of Liva and have picked up a few pieces this monsoon to try out for myself.
Layer, Layer, Layer
Yes, yes I know… this is contrary to all fashion advice. The humidity is killing. But then, combine this with what I said above. Light and breathable fabrics can be combined into layers. The markets these days are flooded with shrugs. Right from Bolero to waterfall, a varierty of styles and colours are available. Adding a shrug to your outfit will keep you warm in the air conditioning, and keep you from catching a chill if you get caught in the downpour. The best part is that you dont have to break the bank on buying lots of shrugs. You can easily repurpose an older top or kurta into one. I did it recently. Have a look:
Another layering technique I always use in monsoon is to wear a fitted tee or ganji underneath my outfit. This layer absorbs the moisture from the outer clothing and does not allow it to reach the skin. This way, I don’t get skin hugging outfits when the clothes are slightly wet and will not freeze over in the office too.
Shorten the length of bottom wear
Whether you wear leggings or pants, shortening it a few inches works well in the rains. If you can pull off cropped culottes, by all means, go for it. Straight cut, fitted linen pants with Kurtas work well too. If you are a salwar kameez loving girl, swap out your flared or patiala salwars for more fitted styles. The idea is that the bottom wear should not stay above the heel of your shoe. Switch out long skirts for knee length ones and maxis for midis.
Switch your Footwear
If you can, keep a pair of neutral office wear shoes at work. I used to keep a beige open toe sandal with a medium heel that worked with Indian and western wear both. If you can’t do this, then carry your office footwear with you while you commute in rain friendly footwear. This is where you can work those gum boots and jelly shoes. Just be sure to switch them up before you get to your desk. A pair of ballerinas or flat sandals would be a great option to carry in your purse. They are light and non-bulky. Do not wear your old shoes in the rain thinking they are about to be thrown anyway. The gumming may come off leaving you with no shoes on a puddle-ridden street. Avoid flip flops or anything that does not have ankle support. It will prevent the shoe slipping off your foot while walking on wet floors. If you can’t get a spare them go for a platform or wedge shoe. The least it will do is keep your feet a little protected from the puddles!
Be Prepared with Spares
Stock up a spare outfit in your desk or carry something you can change into in your bag. It is the monsoon. You will get soaked. You do not want to spend the day shivering. A wrinkle-free tunic in a neutral colour like black or blue will go with a variety of bottom-wear like trousers, leggings or tucked into a skirt.
Did that help? I am hoping it did! But then, staying stylish is so much more than just the clothes and shoes. Right? It is also about your accessories hair and makeup. These three go a long way in making you look stylish. And yes, like everything else, the accessories need to be monsoon-ready too!
Monsoon Accessories, Hair and Makeup Tips for Office
Keep Accessories simple, chic and non-corrosive
Monsoon is humid so you will sweat a lot. Besides, your accessories have a very good chance of catching some rain. So make sure the accessories do not get spoiled. Oxidised metal will lose its sheen and can turn black. Cloth or feather earrings will go limp. Wooden jewellery can catch fungus! Gold is your best bet here. If that is not your style, then try finding resin made fashion jewellery with minimum metal for the monsoon. Getting a waterproof watch is a good idea. You can actually have a little fun with your watch and replace a leather strap with something more colourful and water resistant.
Hair needs Care
Humidity is one of the topmost reasons of frizzy hair. So if your usually chic and shiny hair starts behaving like an unruly mop, you know it is the monsoon at work. Try finding leave-in conditioners or serums that work for your hair type and do not over shampoo. On particularly bad days, braid or make a bun. Use lots of conditioning so that the hair is well nourished.
Is waterproof makeup a must have?
Unless you are going to be prancing about in the rain with makeup on – no! In the monsoons, it is a very good idea to do your makeup once you reach office. Your commute will leave your skin exposed to rain and humidity causing the makeup to melt or clog your pores. I leave home with just moisturiser on and do my makeup after I reach work. That way, I don’t have to buy any special monsoon makeup.
All right… that is it! All I know and follow in the monsoon to ensure my style quotient does not dip while at work. If you want to beat the monsoon blues like a fashionista, check out my tips in the post below
What are your tips? Do share with me and leave me a comment if you liked these 🙂