The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 19 , 2016
 

What t2 said after a trip to a lingerie boutique — BRA-VO!

A display at Suman Nathwani

Suman Nathwani @5 Sardar Shankar Road (behind Lake Mall) 10.30am-7pm
(closed on Sunday)

I  have never uttered the words ‘bra’ and ‘panties’ in public. I giggle. I squirm. I say ‘ishey’. I envy people who can say ‘such words’ in a roomful of people. This, despite coordinating a bunch of photo shoots where you need to tell the model that she has to carry nude bra and panties. I SMS. Yes, you can call me a prude. These words just don’t roll off my tongue! Well... er... hmm.... I don’t know.... Undergarments is better, please!

Noon, Friday. I am chatting with sleepwear and resort wear designer Suman Nathwani in the run-up to the launch of her flagship store. It looks like a lady’s boudoir. Thousand square feet of dainty charm. From the rows hang Suman’s latest resort wear line in cotton and silk. There’s sexy lingerie for the adventurous bride and comfortable pyjama-top sets for regular use.

Pretty lampshades to coloured windowpanes to plaster of Paris detailing on the wall to teapots in a corner shelf. “The idea is to make whoever comes in feel comfortable. She should be able to open up. The connection is important,” says Suman. Pictures: Pabitra Das 

On a mannequin is an impossibly cut-out ‘bra’! There, I uttered it for the first time, after making sure my male photographer colleague was out of earshot. There lay lacy, pretty lingerie... no bras... in baskets. And in a corner hung lots of them... the bras. And panties. Soft pastels. Basic blacks. Suman’s male employees dress the mannequins without batting an eyelid. Did I feel my cheeks flush? Well, I had already uttered ‘the word’ 20 times in 10 minutes. 
Is there something called the perfect bra? Is it as elusive as finding a pair of jeans that hugs your curves right and makes you feel like you have Beyonce’s booty and Gisele Bundchen’s legs? Or, as Suman points out, the perfect pair of shoes. So, what is a perfect bra? 

“Look out for your band and cup. If you are size 34 and your strap is digging in, go a band up. If you think your band is okay, but your cup is bulging, wear a cup bigger. That is a common mistake. When the cup doesn’t fit, they just jump a size higher!” says Suman. I run a quick scan in my mind and utter ‘bra’ 20 times more. Wow, I am glowing with confidence. 

From utility bras, bigger sizes and swimwear to hassle-free pyjama-tee combo — customised to the needs of today’s women. You’ll also find a maternity line — night suits with matching kits. What’s trending? Nudes and neutrals and colours for the beach. Suman also deals in mastectomy bras.  

The store will stock lingerie, swimwear, sleepwear, resort wear and accessories. The rows of lacy bras remind me of Anastasia Steele. And.... It’s utility that Suman wants to focus on though. “I am going to curate the bra, panties and swimwear section and will soon be adding my own swimwear range,” she says. The lacy bras are for the bride and the basic ones for regular use. “You need a comfortable, supportive bra that cushions your shoulder and back,” she adds. 
A good bra is a psychological boost. And your relationship with it should be that of a “second skin”. “It demands as much attention. I have seen celebrities wearing garments worth thousands, but the bra is torn and old!” says Suman. A face immediately flashes in my mind. Shhhh. ‘Bra’ uttered 20 times more. Take a bow! 

Like me, most people are steadily opening up. “Lingerie was hush-hush when I started as a 17-year-old,” says Suman. Twenty seven years on, the brides are becoming more practical and the average girl more daring. “They want fancy undergarments through the year but not fancy sleepwear for the first night. They say they want to be prepared for ‘it’ at all times!” says Suman. Ahem! Are we going to talk the ‘S’ word too? Another first for me!

No we didn’t go there, but Suman did share how she was left shocked by a client who wanted cut-out lingerie for her anniversary, just when she had started. Yes, her clients have taught her a lot as have the Mills & Boon series! No giggle. ROFL. Ten more times! 

The latest resort line by Suman Nathwani has a lot of cotton and silks — dresses, jumpsuits, crop tops and tie-and-dye matched with accessories like minaudieres.

We are browsing through Suman’s latest additions: a line of pyjamas and blouses for today’s bride. The hand embroidery and summery prints are oh-so-cool. 

Suman’s resort line is a burst of colours. Yellows, blues, reds on dresses, jumpsuits.... I cannot take my eyes off that impossibly cut-out bra though! And Suman is talking G-strings and thongs. “Get used to wearing them. Don’t slip it on just before you go to a party,” she says. No squirm. I am feeling so educated that I decide to share it on the office WhatsApp group. The t2 girls are all ears. 

Well, here’s what I learnt: Not to cringe in public when ‘bra’ or ‘panties’ is uttered. It felt like discussing that on-trend crop top or the Pantone colour or what you had for lunch or dinner. And not for nothing did this piece of clothing become the symbol of women’s lib!

Top tips

  • For pregnant women: Invest in nursing bras. In nine months, you change three sizes! You come back to your normal size, but it takes time. 
  • For beginners: There is no right age to start wearing a bra. You’ll know when your daughter is ready. Just keep an eye on your kid.

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