The Mindy Project’s Costume Designer on How to Wear Bright Colors and Prints in a Conservative Office Environment

Dying to break out all your bright colors and prints for summer—perhaps even at the office? So are we! One of our favorite TV characters who pulls off these types of looks with ease is successful ob-gyn Dr. Mindy Lahiri of The Mindy Project.

But what about in real life—is it possible to wear such statement style at the office and still be taken seriously? To find out, we consulted the man behind Mindy Kaling’s on-screen style himself, The Mindy Project costume designer Salvador Perez. The veteran costumer was responsible for Mindy’s whopping 23 outfit changes in the show’s season finale and her Kate Middleton twinsies moment—plus you may have seen his work on Castle, Veronica Mars, and Pitch Perfect. Salvador has even created high-profile red carpet looks for Mindy, like the stunning custom one-shoulder embroidered gown she wore at the Costume Designers Guild Awards.


While he’s hard at work on the costumes for Pitch Perfect 2 (filming right now), Salvador took a few moments to share his fashion wisdom with us, discuss the right way to wear prints and colors to work, and dish a little bit on Mindy Kaling’s shopping habits. (You can probably guess what they are if you stalk her Instagram like I do.) Here goes!

AMSFTV: We know you have a bit of creative license to dress Dr. Mindy Lahiri, but how do you ride the fine line between fun/trendy and professional when it comes to her outfits on the show?
SP: As a costume designer, my job is to dress the character. If I dressed people the way they really wore clothes, it would be boring and you wouldn’t want to watch the show. Mindy has always wanted the show to be aspirational, so we take the fashion up a notch. To be honest, there’s not a world of people who dress the way Mindy does. It’s just her. But there is always the one fashionista in the workplace.

AMSFTV: How would you suggest one wear color and prints to the office but still keep the look professional?
SP: Much like Mindy’s costumes, it’s all about the silhouette. The pieces she wears are basics— a silk top, a sweater vest, a pencil skirt, a pinafore. What makes Mindy’s style is the color combinations. So maybe you don’t wear as much bright pink or yellow, but add some color to your work wardrobe. It’s still very professional and can still look very chic.

AMDFTV: What’s your advice on styling a bright or print summer dress for work?
SP: You have to keep the look professional and not summer beach party. Add a solid color cardigan, keep the accessories small and very simple. For example, a matching Baby G watch is always a fun way to add color.

AMSFTV: Mindy Lahiri tends to prefer insanely high heels (when she’s not wearing her Fat Steps, of course). What’s the best way for our readers to wear sandals to the office and keep it professional?
SP: When wearing a sandal or wedge to the office, keep it clean. No crystals or metallics and no higher then three and a half inches. You should not be teetering on stilettos at the workplace.

AMSFTV: How much of Mindy Lahiri’s clothing on-screen is inspired by Mindy Kaling? Dr. Lahiri is often in such bright colors and prints, and Mindy Kaling tends to favor the same types of clothes in real life.
SP: Mindy Kaling is a true fashionista. She loves fashion and is always shopping—whether in stores or online—so we are always talking about clothes we want for the show. Sometimes I say, “That’s more Mindy Kaling than Mindy Lahiri!” And her personal style is different—she is much more elegant in real life. Sometimes in fittings, Mindy will like something so much, she’ll ask us to get one for her personal use. So as we have been working together, we inspire each other.

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