For Mindy Kaling, the clashy style meshes nicely

Fans are counting the days until the return of Fox’s “The Mindy Project” on April 1. What’s next after the turbulence-induced airplane make-out session between fellow OB-GYN Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) and the lovelorn Dr. Mindy Lahiri?

And, of course, they’ll clamor to see what series star Mindy Kaling is wearing.

That’s because Kaling’s character, with her everywoman figure, is TV’s unlikely new style star in her signature jumble of contrasting prints and almost-clashing colors. And for the show’s veteran costume designer, Salvador Perez, working with Kaling is a match made in fashion heaven.

“Color is sort of my signature. Don’t ask me to do the subdued show in black and gray because I would be tortured,” Perez said in a recent interview. “Mixing color combinations like pink and green or yellow and orange — that’s what Mindy loves. She can wear any of those combinations.”


Perez was originally recommended to the multi-hyphenate producer-writer-star by actress Anna Camp, whom he had dressed in the movie “Pitch Perfect.” He was in the middle of designing the Lifetime biopic “Liz & Dick” and wasn’t looking for a series. But his résumé also included date movies such as “Think Like a Man,” in which “the characters wore 30 changes each” and, with Kaling loving his sense of color and urban edge, he was in.

Kaling couldn’t be more pleased. “Sal is an artist. He has his distinct take on the character but is collaborative in the most excited way,” she said via email. “He loves women’s bodies. In our years working together, I have never had a bad fitting with Sal.”

His practiced eye for fit means Kaling can easily wear trendy styles like the high-waisted pinafore from an upcoming episode because the dress’ bodice is altered to skim her body at the smallest part of her torso.

“Clothes aren’t one size fits all,” Perez said. “Ten women who are a size 8 are going to be totally different. You need to go to a seamstress and have them shape things to your body. You’d spend $7 on a latte. Spend $15 to have your clothes fitted.”


Likewise, women can take a cue from the show’s colorful scheme and break out of the little black dress, even if their personal style isn’t quite as bold as Mindy’s.

“You can do a little navy dress, you do a little hunter dress, a little dark fuchsia dress, a little burgundy dress,” he said. “Have a little fun with color. You’ll really stand out in a room.”

Kaling did when she wore a showy aqua silk gown that Perez designed to the February awards gala of the Costume Designers Guild, an industry group that named him president last fall.

Years ago, Perez said, he had a mentor, a “kooky” fashion and costume designer named Jan Rowton. He was inspired by her quirky sense of style, including one bright red fox coat.


“She said, ‘I can only afford one coat, so I didn’t buy a black one like everybody else.’ I kind of loved that concept,” he said. “Don’t go for the black. Don’t go for the basic.”