The first time I set eyes on Mindy Kaling, she was wearing an ivory satin gown to a co-workers wedding.
Eyes glimmering, smiling egregiously… because social mores be damned, she knew the truth:
And that was the beginning of my unrequited love affair with all things Mindy. She is a brazen, unapologetic, self-possessed woman who will wear white to a wedding because her glorious skin tone demands it. She will dote stupidly on cupcakes and declare to every slouch in the room that “I am one of the few people who looks hot eating a cupcake.”
Some call it vanity; I call it an acute sense of awareness of all the micro-environmental factors that augment her “hotness.” Kelly Kapoor, Doctor Mindy Lahiri, Mindy Kaling - the lines are all blurred for me. Whomever Mindy Kaling decides to play, it often is one who announces her presence to the sleepy world around her - and her style is no different.
Boisterous, feminine, masculine, colorful, playful and somehow timeless, Mindy Kaling’s style is the stuff dreams are made of. If you find yourself falling asleep by the muted predictable offerings of your current wardrobe, let Mindy and her wonderful abuse of color and pattern wake up your imagination!
Lesson Number 1: The Flirty Skater
While this picture may have been taken in the infancy stages of The Mindy Project way back in 2012, my soul still smiles looking at it now in 2020 - and I am fighting the urge to raid my closet and replicate it for a very fierce grocery shopping excursion.
The genius of this ensemble is there is an immense amount of pattern and dimension that is tempered with a neutral color palette. The buttoned-up snakeskin chambray is a blend of casual and sexy, while the semi-cropped black and white sweater hits right at the waist and accentuates an exaggerated and tiny little waist line. Snakeskin and a modern polka dot? Yes please. When tied to a neutral color palette, all things are possible. And while it appears to be all business on the top half, there is fun and flit with the A-lined skater skirt. Yes, the skirt is short, sitting a little higher than mid-thigh, but the flare of the skirt works a bit of magic in creating “innocent” vibrations.
Lesson 2: The Unexpected Tuxedo Jacket
A tailored tuxedo jacket will make any woman feel powerful. I love the idea of menswear shaped for a feminine silhouette - it stirs up feelings of rebelliousness and sophistication. The vibrations of this simple staple make a statement of non-conformity, presenting a woman who dresses for herself and no one else in ways that an evening gown just cannot.
I was formerly on the fence about tailored tuxedo jackets on women. While they looked good on 7 foot tall runway models, I feared I would be mistaken for an overdressed penguin out on the town. If you share similar fears, don’t fret - play around with a vibrantly colored tuxedo jacket as Mindy does.
You still get all the power from the strong shoulders and a gorgeous elongating lapel, but don’t have the risk of being mistaken for a flightless aquatic bird. The colorful tuxedo jacket is the star of the show, and when paired with a modern pair of high-rise cigarette pants and a striped oxford Mindy feels like a modern day Audrey Hepburn with a bit of a magical-fairy-like twist. This ensemble is style androgyny done masterfully, taking classically masculine staples and shaping them for a feminine silhouette.
Lesson 3: Sequined Skirt and a Baseball Tee
A sequined emerald skirt with a blue and white baseball tee sounds like a train wreck, but somehow it looks adorable on Mindy. The two pieces work together to both elevate a casual and forgettable top and neutralize an evening-esque skirt making it wearable for daytime.
I love the blend of both of these worlds - the intentional clashing of the casual and fanciful make for an unexpected and memorable ensemble. While I may not choose this exact configuration, I would recommend blending a casual chambray or chunky neutral sweater with a skirt or dress you normally have reserved for an evening out.
The key to success in blending these two worlds is all about the waist. If you are going the route of a chunky sweater, be sure that it can hit at or above the waist as it will elongate your leg line. If you go the route of a chambray with an evening wear dress, don’t forget to tie and knot your chambray in the front. It’s in this mash-up of the casual and posh worlds that visual interest and memorable style are born. So go ahead, play and experiment. Take out that date night dress and see which one of your everyday sweaters will play nice.
Lesson 4: Black and Yellow
When it comes to color pairings, black and yellow will always reside somewhere along the lines of genius for me. The two offer a striking blend of demure and understated with a “Look At Me Now” burst of playfulness.
Here, Mindy plays with the two colors in a darling floral sheath dress and a long yellow pea coat. The short dress and long coat tow the line between sophisticated and flirty, making it appropriate for the office or a fancy night out. If you have become disenchanted with the playlist of your wardrobe’s color palette, I implore you to experiment with black and yellow. Whether you want to dip your feet into the shallow end with a muted mustard yellow before going in deep with a vibrant lemon hue, pairing either color on the continuum with an understated black will bring unparalleled contrast and visual interest to any ensemble configuration.
Mindy’s Ancient Wisdom
In strange times like these, I try to listen to Mindy Kaling’s ancient wisdom: “Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” These words are a balm for my soul while her flamboyant style reinvigorates the senses. With all the gloom that surrounds a life indoors, take a breath and a moment to give yourself the space to stare stupidly at that cupcake and remember, that you too, look really hot eating cupcakes.
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