Editor's note: We're shining a spotlight on the six finalists in the 2017 CultureMap Stylemaker Awards, continuing with finalist Rida Mandavia. Voting for the readers' choice winner continues through October 24 at 11:59 pm. The winners will be named at our Reveal Party on October 26 at Tootsies in The Plaza.
Rida Mandavia has diagnosed herself as “a little bipolar when it comes to fashion.”
The 27-year-old behavioral therapist is just as comfortable draping a traditional Indian sari over colorful separates as she is throwing a jean jacket over a graphic tee.
The unifying detail? She looks confident in her clothes because she feels confident in her own skin.
Mandavia, a Dallas native whose parents hail from India, pulls inspiration from her heritage into her everyday looks. Drawing on her family's culture has been part of a gradual style evolution, she says.
She also serves as chief editor of Dallas[Intuitive] and founder of Rida's Pop-Up Shop, a South Asian thrift boutique. "It's through style that I have been able to connect my work in clinical psychology, fashion, and digital media marketing — three very distinct industries — to inspire myself and others," she says.
Mandavia shared more about her personal style evolution and the inspiration she gets from family, including her grandma in Bombay.
CultureMap: Tell us about the sari you're wearing.
Rida Mandavia: "The sari is a very traditional garment worn by, usually, married women in India. It symbolizes elegance, timelessness, and a kind of demureness for the Indian woman. I like that a lot of those values reflect in how I visualize my style, so I like to pull inspiration from a lot of my culture and my background.”
CM: How has your personal style moved in that direction?
RM: “I've gotten a lot more in touch with my Indian side and have learned to embrace that. Being a first-generation Indian-American, born and raised in Dallas, it was always kind of difficult to navigate your identity, so I found that style really helped me celebrate my culture and appreciate it for what it is … and really give people a visual of what it means to be an Indian-American."
CM: But there’s a whole other side to your fashion choices, right?
RM: “I feel like I have kind of multiple personalities when it comes to my style. I have this really vibrant Indian side, but I also love a lot of street style, grunge wear, athleisure ... so I’m a little bipolar when it comes to fashion.”
CM: Who are your biggest style influences?
RM: “My mom is the most sophisticated, elegant woman I know. She’s always taught us to take care of ourselves and to make sure we look good and feel good. She inspired me to take on the sari, as well. She wears it and drapes it in like 5 minutes, and I’m over here, like, ‘What do I do with all this fabric?’ She and my grandma both are very elegant, very classic, and very timeless in the way they dress, so a lot of that materializes in my style, as well.”
CM: What is it like shopping with them?
RM: “My grandma is in Bombay, and we were there twice last year. When I go shopping with my mom and my grandma, it’s the craziest thing because my grandma is so traditional in the way she thinks sometimes, but then she’ll come out of nowhere and pick out something really skimpy and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ We all have similar tastes — we all gravitate toward really bold colors and patterns. But at the same time ... I’m a lot more eclectic and wild in my fashion sense, and my mom and grandma are a little more traditional.”
CM: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
RM: “I’m a total psych nerd, which, if you know what my do as my day job, you know that about me. I read a lot of psychological journals on therapy, hypnosis, and all sorts of weird stuff. So I’m kind of a nerd like that.”
CM: How did you react when you found out you were nominated for a CultureMap Stylemaker Award?
RM: “I was really excited because I felt like finally there’s a platform that’s looking at diversity, looking at inclusion, and really celebrating style in this broad spectrum that it is. So I was really excited to take on that role and help my followers see that you can be cultural and stylish and pull influences from a lot of different places, and have it materialize in a really great way.”