all photos: Chris Svetlik
Valli has the incredible luxury of being able to dress in almost anything she wants for work. “I mean, I can wear this,” she says of the outfit she has on during the shoot.
How many of you can say the same?
BYT: So, what was your reaction when you found out you were a finalist on the Best Dressed List?
Valli Ravindran: I didn’t know there was something like this going on. My friend Emily tagged one of my pictures. It’s really nice. I never really expected anything, so it was a good surprise. I shared it will all my friends
BYT: What comes to mind when you think of- having style?
VR: It has to do with personality. So, when I think of my style- I’m not really thinking about fashion. It’s just something I’m trying to express.
BYT: Are you a thoughtful shopper?
VR: I’m in and out in about a half hour. I’m pretty much an online shopper. I’d rather not try things on at stores, stand in lines…I pick things out pretty quickly. I don’t really think too much about it.
BYT: Do you have a favorite Web site?
VR: ASOS. It’s a U.K.-based Web site. They have a lot of London designers, which I really, really love. Most of my party-wear is from there.
BYT: Which D.C. shops do you like?
VR: I like Free People a lot and Anthropologie.
BYT: Both of those stores sell many bohemian-inspired pieces.
VR: Yes! I think I’ve realized that’s what I like. I also like Urban [Outfitters]. I like their unique tops…things that are different and stand out.
BYT: So, how would you describe your style?
VR: I like taking a regular top or dress and making it unique. Like, making it different with accessories. I really like jewelry, hats- I’m a big headpiece lover. I’ve been looking up Japanese street fashion, and I like how they make things just work. I mean they take huge risks, but it’s the beauty [of it]. I don’t know if I’m even close. I probably take risks and get looks [from people thinking], “what is she wearing?” I don’t really think about it. I just put together what I like. If it works, it works. And sometimes, I do get stopped on the road with people asking, “where did you get that.” So, I guess, it’s OK.
BYT: Those are some pretty high-heeled shoes…
VR: I’m short! And my husband is pretty tall. I do wear heels, but I don’t let go of my comfort, so I do carry flats in my bag.
BYT: That’s always a good idea. Tell me a bit about how your style has evolved.
VR: I don’t know when I got interested in fashion. I think it happened when other people started noticing – that’s when I started paying attention. When I was a little girl, if anyone ever gave me money, the first thing I would want to do is go buy something, makeup or clothes. I grew up in India, so obviously the style and clothes you get out there is totally different. But when I look back at some pictures, I am pretty embarrassed.
I moved here 10 years ago, so even from then until now, there has been a huge difference. I was not so aware of everything in India. So, when I came here, I was pretty much trying out everything. I didn’t have a favorite store, and I didn’t have a style. I used to buy whatever I found. I remember, I used to wear a lot of jeans and T-shirts. Now, I’ve moved on. I don’t wear many jeans – I try to wear more dresses.
BYT: Where do you read about fashion now? Do you follow certain magazines or blogs?
VR: I’m following most of the Twitter accounts of style blogs. But, I don’t have a blog that I keep going back to. I do follow Style.com and Refinery29.com and The Cut blog from New York Magazine. Right now, they are covering New York Fashion Week, so I’ve been following some of the runway shows.
BYT: Did any of the shows stand out to you?
VR: I remember seeing Rodarte. (The next day, Valli emails me a link to the current Milly collection, telling me it’s her favorite of the season so far.)
BYT: As you get older, do you imagine yourself looking a certain way at a particular age? I have a friend, who says she can’t wait to turn 70, so she can look decent in furs and pearls. That friend might or might not be me.
VR: That’s funny. Well, I never thought about it. I don’t want to get into safe clothes. I’m reaching 30 now, but I dress like a 20 year old, I guess. So, I probably want to go backwards, always. I mean, I want to embrace more of the Indian fabrics, which I don’t do that much – I’ve always wanted to do something that was taking the best from here and there.
BYT: How does Indian fashion influence you?
VR: I do love jewelry a lot. [In India] every dress you take is hand done. Every piece is unique. You know you’re getting that much craftsmanship. That’s what I really, really admire. I have a favorite designer. His name is Sabyasachi Mukherjee. He’s done shows here in New York too. He does a lot of mixing of materials in one dress, and that’s what I love. He mixes satin, velvet, silk in one dress, and it’s so beautiful together.
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