What I Wear to Work: Anjula Acharia

The busy entrepreneur’s closet staples includes designer sneakers and custom sarees.

Anjula Acharia What I Wear to Work
(Image credit: Getty)

In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, and CEOs on their "power suit," a.k.a. the outfit they wear for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.

One profession wasn't enough for multi-hyphenate Ajula Acharia. A double life (triple, really) is how the busy entrepreneur explains her dynamic careers: an early stage Investor for a portfolio of female-founded startups, the co-founder of media company Desi Hits!, and the manager of Priyanka Chopra Jonas. 

While her career endeavors are diverse, Acharia explains that her business and professional life are often one-and-the-same. Mixing business and pleasure— like investing in Jonas's restaurant, SONA, is part of the excitement for Acharia. She wouldn't have it any other way. 

Her relationships and a recent move to New York from L.A. have also become a source of inspiration for her workday wardrobe. With a growing number of south Asian events on her calendar alongside global business partners, Acharia finds more reasons to wear traditional Indian garments that are both celebratory and empowering—a reminder of Acharia's Indian upbringing in the U.K. She's also trading her high heels for sneakers.

Ahead, we chat with the entrepreneur about her adaptable workwear style, the designers she's supporting, and her grown-up love for traditional Indian attire. 

On Her Morning Routine:

I wake up in the morning and do the worst thing ever—I reach for my phone. It's buzzing from the moment I wake up. I'll wake up to 100 messages. I like to do so much of my business on WhatsApp because I have such a global presence. I usually have something going on in London, Mumbai, L.A., and New York. Everybody I work with gets me there, whether it's Priyanka, one of my startups, or my founders. 

Then, I will rise and make myself a ginger chai, which is my thing. I'm so known for my tea. Everybody knows that I'm obsessed with it. Priyanka [threw] a birthday party for me [recently], and she goes, "What do you want to drink apart from tea?"  

I don't work out every day, but I'll try and work out a couple of times a week. Then I'll come back, shower, and start my ZOOM calls.

Anjula Acharia in a Bibhu Mohapatra dress

Acharia wears a Bibhu Mohapatra dress to a pre-Oscar event she co-hosted celebrating South Asian excellence.

(Image credit: Anjula Acharia)

On Getting Dressed:

I'm always cold. It's rare for me not to feel cold, so the weather app is the first thing I check when thinking about what I'll wear. Compared to L.A., the weather in New York can be so crazy. My style is very diverse, but I indulge in that—and what I decide to wear depends on who I'm meeting. If I'm meeting someone in fashion or finance, I'll step it up. Payal Kadakia of Class Pass is one of my founders, and she's influenced me to meet her in workout gear.

Anjula Acharia wears a Lehenga set from designer Falguni Shane Peacock

Acharia (center) wears a Lehenga set from designer Falguni Shane Peacock.

(Image credit: Anjula Acharia)

On New York versus L.A. Style:

Everything in New York feels like it's about footwear. Right now, I want to find good sneakers and buy all of the things that look good with those sneakers. I'm thinking about a pair from Chanel.

I live in downtown Manhattan, and I want to be able to walk everywhere, especially in the warm weather. When I lived in L.A., my fashion wasn't about that. I wore heels and dresses for meetings and events and drove everywhere, or I was in sneakers and sweatpants at home. It was a clear distinction. 

In New York, I can find a place to wear everything—from jeans to dresses to jackets. I am loving this local New York designer named Dafne right now. She makes hand-painted and embroidered jackets. There's also another piece of my life, my Indian clothes. I'm obsessed with them.

Anjula Acharia wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana suit

Acharia dons a black Dolce & Gabbana suit. "I feel like a badass walking into any meeting wearing a power suit," she says.

(Image credit: Anjula Acharia)

On Feeling Empowered:

I met a designer named Falguni Peacock through a friend, and she re-introduced me to Indian fashion. 

Indian clothes were always too big for me when I was young. I grew up hating Indian clothing my parents would force me to wear, but they can be beautiful when they fit well. 

Peacock's clothes are incredible, and she has been dressing me in traditional Indian attire for more than a decade now. When I walk into a room in a Saree or a Lehenga, I feel like it's a piece of armor.

Of course,  I feel like a badass walking into any meeting wearing a power suit too.

Shop Anjula's Favorite Pieces

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.