How Mindy Lahiri's Fashion Sense Empowered Me To Feel A Lot More Optimistic About My Closet (And Myself)

Binge-watching The Mindy Project started out as a passive activity, something to buzz in the background while I gathered beads and junk for my mixed media projects. But then Dr. Mindy Lahiri's fashion sense inspired me to look up once in a while — literally and figuratively. After all, once you get a load of Mindy's sartorial rainbow, it's hard to avert your gaze. Whether she's rocking zebra print or hot pink or both at once, Mindy's bright style celebrates Woman (capital "W" fully intended). Her outfits are body-positive and confidence-inducing.

Don't have so-called "perfect" arms? Who cares? And who defines these ridiculous terms anyway? If perception is reality, then maybe, just maybe, you can pull off whatever you want to pull off. Mindy certainly does. With that attitude in mind, I've started peering into my closet with renewed optimism. Thanks to a health dose of Mindy, I'm experimenting a bit more with hues and patterns, and fretting less about the size of my derriere. If I'm glowing, it's because of my Lahiri diet. I'm not sure yet if it's FDA-approved but, heck, I approve.

Here are five outfits I recently put together à la Mindy Lahiri for a few hypothetical situations.

1. The spritely cocktail dress

Boo to black! Sure, I love the mysterious witch power of a solid black outfit, but too often I've chosen black for its "slimming" effects — even though I know that shouldn't be its main draw. Mindy has reminded me to embrace words like "chubby," "round," and "pear-shaped." Perhaps those words don't quite apply to me. That's not the point. Many women worry about a certain body part (e.g., boobs, hips, butt, thighs) looking "too big" and that's why they reach for a LBD. Not because they love it but because they want to hide. If I'm going to a party, I want to be seen. If that means going for a satiny aqua dress with beaded cut-outs, a Cleopatra necklace, and busy shoes, so be it.

2. Dinner with friends

I used to be pretty self-conscious about my thighs. I also used to avoid jackets or blazers because it can be hard to find off-the-rack stuff that fits both my bust and waist properly. I even ditched platforms a while ago because the supposed sexy factor made me squeamish. Notice how in this outfit, I scoffed at all those fears. Until recently, I had gotten into the happen of wearing whatever when going out with friends. Not after this Mindy surge. I'm going for "cute" again and that means taking a few (harmless) risks.

3. Happy Hour

Mindy is aggressively monochromatic. It's almost her version of black in the sense that it's technically slimming, drawing the eye from head to toe in one fell swoop. But monochromatic outfits are much bolder than black. Lots of times, happy hour is flooded with girls in black tops and dark jeans or butt-lifting black skirts. Add ankle booties and you've got yourself a uniform. Mindy doesn't do uniforms. Neither do I. With a color coordinated closet, it was easy to reach for two purple items, one lavender, the other magenta. I doubt I'll blend in at the bar wearing this.

4. A typical day at the office

Gray suits, nude pantyhose... blah. Even though Mindy's an OB/GYN, she still lakes the time to put on an imaginative outfit every morning. This ivory blazer defies the black and navy we're used to seeing cubicle to cubicle, and the pants may be Ann Taylor but they don't say it. Fun comes in the details: a lacy blouse, plaid heels, and a necklace beaded by a local artisan. Profesh without a snore fest.

5. An important day at the office

Sometimes you've got to button up and buckle down at work. Mindy's damn good at her job, making her a stellar role model in that sense, too. She's so good at her job that she feels free to wear feminine style in a male-dominated field. The reasoning is, your intellect and talents are why you got the job. Wearing ruffles won't change that. Still, it's hard to crush a presentation if you're in sweats. Buttons and zippers show you're serious. Maybe this outfit is a little Polly Pocket, but that's what I love about it: it's big and dollish and boom all at once. Those Red Hat Society ladies were on to something when they paired red and violet.

Images: FOX; Helen Stoddard.