Expert Speak: Stylist Shikha Dhandhia on bridal fashion, jewellery and fail-proof sartorial options

With the onset of the wedding season comes the incessant scrolling through one’s Instagram feed for latest outfit inspirations, saving photos from collections of favorite designers, and pinning the most-loved looks to one’s Pinterest board. Picking the perfect outfits that will make you feel special, look sensational, and stand out in photos can be a nerve-wracking experience. We spoke to ace fashion stylist Shikha Dhandhia who shared her insights and tips to ensure you look and feel your best on your big day.

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

You have vast experience in styling brides. How do you combine trends with a bride’s personal style to create a distinctive look and make her stand out?

“What I bring to the table is unbiased and untainted judgment. The bride’s friends and family are used to seeing her dress in a specific way and that often overshadows their opinions on outfits. I start by assessing every bride’s personal style, personality, and body type, and then suggest trends which would suit the client’s taste, flatter their shape and make them feel confident and comfortable. It’s good to break the norms and try out a variety of styles, but it’s also important to stay true to yourself. Forcing styles just because they are trending is never a good idea, as the bride will end up feeling uncomfortable during the event. For example, while ruffles are hugely popular right now, they might not suit everybody.”

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

Do you have any styling techniques that are signature for you?

“I don’t believe in ever applying the same styling ideology to any two people or even two functions for the same bride. Looking back through their wedding album, I would never want any client to regret choosing repetitive styles, colors or silhouettes. I play with different hues, textures, and styles for every outfit, and I don’t believe in confining looks to solely trending colors or styles. Pastels maybe in vogue, but it may not be the way to go for every bride.”

“However, there are certain outfits I believe that no bride can go wrong with. Lehengas and anarkalis are some of the most versatile outfits and can be experimented with to highlight every bride’s personal style. Also, they are a staple, as they can be mixed and matched as well as worn later in a different style. Another amazing piece of clothing is the classic saree. Heavily underused, this classic style got sidetracked by the popularity of lehengas and is often misconstrued as being meant for older women. Thanks to celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma who stunned in gorgeous woven sarees for their wedding functions, it’s making a comeback and needs to be embraced more.”

As a bridal stylist, what services do you provide? Walk us through a typical bridal assignment.

My services for Personal Shopping & Styling can be availed by the bride, groom, their families & their friends. In this day and age of social media, where everybody has access to trends & designers at the press of a button, my job is to unburden the client of the stress of looking good on their special day. As they focus on the rest of their wedding planning, they can trust me to plan out the shopping itinerary, schedule appointments, help them decide what’s best suited for their body & personality type, pick the right jewellery & accessories to match, coordinate fittings & delivery and make them look and feel like the best version of themselves for their big day.

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia
Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

How important is it to keep body type and skin tone in mind while styling and accessorizing? Could you share some tips to for on-point styling each time?

“Tangibles like body type, shape, and skin tone play a large role in finding the perfect outfit for every bride. For example, dressing a bride with a wheatish skin tone in beige is going to wash her out, while a vibrant color will make her look radiant. These need to be considered even while accessorizing. Going all out with a heavy matha-patti or OTT layering may be something you dreamed of, but they can easily overwhelm a petite frame.”

These simple but vital tips will ensure that you own your style game every time:

– Lehengas always need to be worn high-waist, as it sits on the narrowest part of the waist and makes for the most flattering silhouette.
– Always drape your dupatta with your blouse design in mind. If you are rocking a blouse with a stylish back, always drape the dupatta in the front, and vice-versa.
– If you are all for channeling a traditional bride, don’t forget some fundamentals like a “challa”(waist ornament) or a pair of “payal”(anklets).
– Don’t go heavy with layering necklaces. Keep in mind that for a majority of the time you will have a heavy floral garland around your neck which will hide most of your neck ornaments and will also weigh you down.
– Get your ‘haath-phool’ (hand ornaments) made as a detachable set so you can wear it as a separate ring and bracelet after your wedding.

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

What can a bride do when her dream designer outfit does not turn out how she imagined it would?

“I always urge my brides to have an open mind while going into a styling appointment. The desire to wear a specific style or design can often dishearten a bride if it doesn’t match up to what she visualized, and I always try to counter a situation like that with another option or two that would suit her instead. It is, of course, the bride’s call at the end of the day, but my advice always is to go for something that suits you, and not just something you imagined or liked on the runway or on the rack.”

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia
Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

What are the most common styling errors you see with bridal and bridesmaids outfits? What are some easy hacks to avoid them?

“One of the most common faux-pas I witness is guests and bridesmaids outdoing the bride in a quest for the best pictures or Instagram posts. Apart from weddings that call for an OTT dress-code, it is always a good idea to keep in mind that it is not your big day, but the bride’s moment in the spotlight. Another folly is going for the latest trends without considering your body type and whether or not an ensemble suits you. Styles such as belting your saree or lehenga or wearing ruffles may have looked great in a photo, but does not always flatter everyone.”

Here are some fool-proof hacks to ensure you look chic and fashionable every time:

– A simple lehenga, anarkali or saree is a safe option for any function, regardless of whether you are a guest or a bridesmaid.
– Don’t be restricted by colors. Opt for bright hues to look vibrant for day functions. It is no longer a norm to stick to only dark shades for the night. Pick a statement ivory or a pastel outfit to stand out.
– Swap your stilettos for pumps or wedges. Not only are they more comfortable, they are also handy for outdoor functions where pointed heels may sink into the soft soil of a lawn or garden.
– Remember to wear shades for an outdoor day function. They are functional and add a glamorous edge to any outfit.

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia
Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

Stylist Shikha Dhandhia
Stylist Shikha Dhandhia

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