‘Rescue Mission Series’: How I Transformed an Old Saree into a ‘Designer Saree’ for £15

The ‘Rescue Mission Series’ is one of my favourite series on the blog and one that is underpinned by a concept I firmly believe in and promote constantly; reimagine, restyle and reuse. This is a series where I update old Indian clothes in my wardrobe and give them a new lease on life, in keeping with current trends.

The inspiration for this ‘rescue mission’ started when I saw a Bollywood celebrity on the internet wearing a beautiful floral printed saree edged with matching feathers on the pallu. I liked the concept of the design and how the florals and feathers worked together in unison to create a chic style statement. When I dissected the makeup of the saree, I realized it was a simple combination of a pretty floral saree and a feather trimming on the pallu. Subsequently, I decided to try creating this with a floral saree already in my wardrobe.

This chiffon saree with a gorgeous blue floral pattern belongs to my mother and is at least 35 years old.  It was gifted to her by an aunt for the birth of her nephew (I love the Indian tradition of gifting clothes when a child is born – it cements a happy memory in your head forever). I decided that I would look for a feather trim in that virtual shop on the internet that probably sells everything one can ever dream of – Amazon.  As expected, the ‘shop of all things ever’ did not disappoint; I found this ostrich feather fringe trim (fake of course) for £7.69 per meter in a dazzling amount of shades. Not knowing which shade would work – I ordered two different shades of blue and decided I would combine them to get a better overall colour balance.  The total price for my trim was £15.38 (OK I fibbed a little – the total was a bit more than £15).

The one-meter trim was not enough to go end-to-end on the pallu so one side got a bit more of each blue and the middle has both colours combined – you can hardly tell.  I have to say that I loved the result and the vivid blues gave the saree an instant update and provided me with an ‘on-trend feather saree’ that was very close to the one I saw the celebrity wearing.  I took it on holiday recently to show my mother and I think she was really pleased with my ‘rescue mission’ on her lovely chiffon saree.  I even altered her blouse as I did not have one that would have work with the finished product.

The beautiful blue set I am wearing is by Heritage  Jewellery by Ridhi and it could not have matched the saree more perfectly.  The jewellery worked wonders in helping me achieve the sophisticated look I was after.

I hope you enjoyed my endeavour to create a ‘designer look’ with an old chiffon saree and some new fake feather fringe trimming. As always, thank you for reading my blog and supporting my creativity. If you enjoy my fashion and interior posts then please follow Isha’s Verdict on Instagram @ishasverdict.  Have a great week ahead!

Accessories:

Jewellery – Heritage Jewellery by Ridhi (tel:07734 806481), @heritagejewellerybyridhi 

Feather Border –  Amazon (Ostrich Feather Trimming fringe for Millinery in Midnight Blue and Peacock Blue, Sold by: Amaharryzon

Forever Sarees: Are We Becoming ‘One Trick Pony’ Sari Wearers?

Hello everyone!  This weekend I felt the first hint of a cold undertone in the weather and realized that our summer is slowly coming to an end.  I know we had a few very hot days in London but they were nowhere near enough for me to get my fix of wearing one of my favourite kind of sarees – summer sarees in beautifully light fabrics that are unique in their weaving and cultural significance.

I have always loved Indian summer sarees and I have a hard time passing on ethnic cotton sarees as the colours are so beautiful and the variety is literally endless.  I am really going to show my age here but sometimes I wonder if these beautiful cotton sarees are popular with the younger generation (especially outside India) or is their exposure to them so limited that they are not even in their line of vision?  Often, when we go somewhere, we see a lot of ladies wearing lovely ‘Bollywood inspired’ trendy sarees, which of course are lovely in their own right. However, sometimes it does strike me that everyone is wearing a copy of a similar theme and the sarees are beautiful versions of the same style statement.  When this happens, I do miss seeing a variety in the styles of sarees on display and it is always lovely to see someone wearing a traditional weave or an ultra-modern drape to brighten up the visual landscape of sarees.

I am definitely a ‘vacation shopper’ and I can’t imagine coming back from holiday without some clothing or interiors purchase that is special to the land or country I am visiting.  I guess this is just another form of a shopping addiction and one I admit to wholeheartedly. I bought this beautiful Kasavu saree on a holiday in Kochi a few years ago.  It was excruciating making a decision on the border colour but any combination with cream and black just makes me weak in the knees. I bought my mother a cream with gold/peach border one and I am hoping to ‘borrow’ it in the near future.

I have paired it with one of my favourite black sari blouses (that I have worn with many a saree) and this stunning jewellery set from Heritage Jewellery by Ridhi.  I love the idea of this magnificent jewellery with a traditional cotton handloom saree.  This is a statement necklace that packs a punch and I thoroughly enjoyed wearing the two together for this lookbook.

I hope to fit in a few more summer sarees in the coming month before it is time to pack them away for next year.  I hope you enjoyed this post and as always, thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict. I would love to see pictures of your favourite summer sarees as well! Have a great week ahead.

Please follow me on Instagram @ishasverdict

Clothes and Accessories:

All jewellery – Heritage Jewellery by Ridhi (tel:07734 806481), @heritagejewellerybyridhi 

A 1971 Wedding Story Part 2: Told Through the Wardrobe that Featured

As I mentioned in the first post of this series “A 1971 Wedding Story: Told Through the Wedding Wardrobe that Featured”,  my parents had an arranged marriage in Punjab, India in 1971. As both the families of the betrothed lived in Ludhiana, this was referred to as a ‘local wedding’. Back in the day, especially with local matches, long engagements were frowned upon as heaven forbid the couple get cold feet or a key family member have a change of heart (or discover some shady information about each other I assume). In order to ensure that such a calamity did not arise, the generally accepted wisdom dictated a  ‘chat mangani phat vya’ (quick engagement and immediate wedding).  My parents had a year old long engagement that was almost unheard of at the time.  Favourably, as my father was in the merchant navy and was due back at sea soon (and lucky for my grandparents sailing waters are quite a distance from Ludhiana and their daughter) the long engagement was given the go-ahead by all involved.

A year-long engagement had some advantages; it gave my mother ample time to shop for her wedding trousseau. What that meant, in reality, was multiple trips to ‘Chowra bazaar’, the main shopping destination in town (which contrary to its name is amazingly narrow) with both her own family and her soon to be inlaws. My mother fondly remembers that she would go with her mother and pick out a few sarees at Fakirchand (the happening saree shop in town in 1971) and leave them there on hold as they couldn’t decide on which ones to buy, with a promise to return the next day with some decisions.  When they would return the next day to purchase the final selection, the sarees would be gone. It turns out that my Dadi would also happen to go shopping there later in the day and of course, the saree man would inform her that her future daughter-in-law was in there earlier and chose a few sarees. My grandmother would then proceed to purchase those for her and instruct the salesman to tell her to choose some other ones for her maternal trousseau when she came in next. I think there was a certain charm to this kind of personalized shopping that will be lost forever in coming generations and with our preference for online shopping.

My mother says that she asked Mr. Fakirchand (I assume that was his name) that she really wanted a black evening benarsi tissue saree as part of her wedding trousseau.  He told her that he did not have one, but he would definitely get her one in the coming months. True to his word, this is the saree he sourced for her; the cost of the saree in 1971 was 250Rs.

That sounds ridiculously cheap by today’s standards but that was the standard cost of this kind of saree back then.  My mother informs me that the most money that was spent on a wedding outfit for her in 1971 was 2,500Rs. This was spent by my Dadi on her reception lehenga and her grandmother was utterly horrified at the expense (more on this when I lookbook the lehenga in question).

Once again, I love everything about this saree.  For one, this is a ‘loud and proud’ garment that announces your presence in a room. The abundance of colourful flowers on black, paired with the checkered border, is a wonderful combination of florals and checks done right on a saree.  There is something thoroughly modern about this 48-year-old saree that one could easily believe that it was purchased yesterday.  I couldn’t help but pair it with my green leather jacket; the combination of the old and new has a certain appeal that fits perfectly with my personal style sensibilities.

The tissue of this saree is now starting to fray a little and it saddens me to think that this saree will not survive much longer. I will take solance in the fact that I have documented it in this blog and shared it with you all so that we can all admire the beautiful weave and intricate handiwork that is this tissue saree.

I hope you have enjoyed this lookbook and have a great weekend ahead.  Thank you so much for reading and its lovely to be blogging again.  A special thanks to those lovely women who checked up on me to see if everything was ok as they had not seen a blog post recently. I have been exceptionally busy but its good to be back talking about fashion and sarees.

A 1971 Wedding Story: Told Through the Wedding Wardrobe that Featured

My parents got married in 1971. The 1971 India-Pakistan war officially started a few days before their wedding but the cards had already been distributed and the caterers instructed. The baraat band played “Dum Maro Dum” from the hit movie ‘Hare Rame Hare Krishna’ which was the rage at the time – an odd choice for a wedding song if the lyrics are considered but Bollywood always reigns supreme.

My parents had an arranged marriage in Punjab and my mother received various clothes from both sides as is customary. Her wedding wardrobe contained various sarees and her mother-in-law (my dadi) who was a clothes enthusiast herself gave her a beautiful selection of sarees which included a  few vintage sarees that belonged to her mother-in-law as a token of family history.  The bride, my mother, who happened to be a naturally organized lady, took great care in storing her wedding clothes in a meticulous fashion. Very recently my friend forwarded me an article from Vogue India that started with the tag line “The secret to a sustainable wardrobe? Knowing how to store your clothes.” I read this and instantly thought of my mom. My mother has always been someone who cares for her purchases regardless of whether they are old or new, cheap or expensive. Growing up, I remember her storing her out of season sarees carefully in a few trunks lined with paper.  She made concentrated efforts to separate her outfits with white paper and keep them out of direct light and humidity. A few years ago, she asked which of her wedding outfits I would like to have and then separated them equally between my sister-in-law and me.

A few weeks ago, I surprised my parents by visiting them unannounced in the US and on my way home, decided to bring my share of her wedding wardrobe with me. It goes without saying that Indian fabrics are stunning and their weaves, colours and styles are a sight to behold.  My mother’s wedding trousseau is now almost 50 years old and I find the sarees and other Indian outfits from that era fascinating.  So much of her wardrobe is still so current and the styles have truly stood the test of time.

Revisit, reimagine and reuse – I have often promoted this line on this blog and I wholeheartedly enjoy reconfiguring clothes that already reside in our wardrobes. In this series of blogs, I want to lookbook my mothers’ wedding outfits to showcase the fashions in 1971 and highlight the timeless beauty of Indian wear. All credit goes to my mother for preserving her outfits so well (the shine of this sari has to be seen to be believed) and I look forward to sharing them with you.

In this lookbook, I am wearing her ‘doli’ saree. This means that this is the saree she wore after the Sikh wedding was over and when she was leaving her home for my father’s house as his bride.  My mother mentioned that in those days in Punjab, most women had a doli suit but my Dadi being a saree fan chose this banarsi organza saree with an all over motif as her ‘doli’ outfit of choice.  The bride wore this saree with a matching orange blouse at the time (with similar sleeves as the purple one) and matching orange sandals.  Unfortunately, those two items have not survived the passage of time.

I wanted to say a big thank you to Aadheekta by Mudra for providing this beautiful traditional jewellery set and collaborating on this post.  Please do check out her Instagram page – she has a beautiful selection of pieces that are well worth the visit. Please quote ISHA10 for a 10% discount.

I hope you enjoyed this vintage saree lookbook.  As always, thank you for taking the time to visit Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Jewellery:

All Jewellery – Aadheekta by Mudra – Instagram @Adheektabym 

Saree – bought in 1971 in Ludhiana Punjab, at Kiran Stores

 

Ombre Kaftan Dress: from my ‘All-Time Top Ten Favourite Dresses Everyone Should Own’

Hello everyone.  We all own clothes that we commend ourselves for purchasing; they represent a shining symbol of our style prowess and we love them for it. They become even more enduring if we managed to buy them on sale. This kaftan dress fits both these criteria and therefore, is a solid member of my ‘All-time top ten favourite dresses’.

The main reason I have chosen to lookbook this dress today is that I believe it would be a great dress for a destination wedding. I have been running a series on destination weddings (not a great response to it as my numbers indicate so a cheeky promotion is in order) and in my last post Destination Wedding Guide Part 2: What to Wear and Why? I mentioned that I would lookbook a dress that works fabulously for a cocktail evening or an Indo-fusion look with Indian jewellery.

I adore the ombre lilac colour shades which add a marked regalness to the dress.  The fitted inner with the loose drape on top gives this dress a lovely sweep and swing as you walk.  It is a versatile blank canvas piece (which I always love) and can be accessorized with a variety of pieces.  Here, I have accessorized it with these beautiful earrings from Toraan – I love the flower drops and how they add a pop of colour to the ensemble.

I bought this dress many years ago, so I am not sure it is still available. If you like it, get it touch and I can refer you to someone who may be able to make you a replica.  Also, I get many enquiries for my photographer so if you are considering getting some blog like photos done, get in touch and I can put you in touch as well.

I hope you enjoy this look and thank you so much for visiting my blog.  Have a great rest of the week ahead!

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Halston heritage

Earrings – Toraan design 

 

Destination Wedding Guide Part 2: What to Wear and Why?

Continuing my focus on destination weddings, we arrive at the big question.  What do I wear for what event at the wedding?  Now, is a good time to note that we all live in a multicultural society and may attend a variety of weddings through the course of the year.  For the sake of this post, I will concentrate on clothes that one may consider wearing to a culturally Indian wedding.

The Saree: The six-yard drape is a natural winner when it comes to wedding attendance attire. Sarees look beautiful and the choice of style and fabric is endless.  However, there can be a small problem with taking one to a destination wedding. The tying of a normal saree involves pleating the front and this is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people are discouraged from considering a sari because they have no idea who is going to pleat it away from home. This is a genuine problem and I have seen many a tear shed and time wasted trying to tie a saree that won’t work at the opportune time. My mother has a tried and tested solution for this problem that truly works. I will be posting a live video of her method in my next post.

The other relatively new solution is the ready-made or ready-pleated saree. These modern sarees have pleats that are already in place like a stitched skirt. All you have to do is slip them on, zipper up the side, put the palla across your body and you are ready to go. Once on, you can move around freely as there is no danger of pulling out the pleats by mistake as the saree is made to size and securely in place. This avatar of the saree is truly well suited to destination weddings; the wearing time is minimal and the output is maximum. If you are particularly apprehensive about wearing a saree – this is a great option for you.

Sharara: A sharara is basically a flared wide-legged trouser (in various styles) that can be worn with a short or long top and an optional dupatta.  It is a truly comfortable garment and one that I think would be truly flattering on all sizes and shapes. This versatile garment works for a multitude of functions – right from the wedding to the reception.  I highly recommend you incorporate a sharara in your destination wardrobe for a comfortable ensemble that packs a mighty fashion punch.

Suit: It is hard to go wrong with a salwar kameez, anarkali or churidar suit.  They work well and are uber comfortable.  Furthermore, they will keep you warm as they allow for a variety of warm undergarments to be worn with ease.

Lehenga: A lehenga with a short or long top is a tried and tested outfit that will work at most times. It is also an ideal piece to mix and match with other tops and dupattas in your wardrobe.

Fusion wear: Modern Indian destination weddings present a unique opportunity to wear clothes that may not work in traditional Indian weddings.  For example, if you are attending a wedding at a beach resort, a beautiful kaftan with statement jewellery would be a unique choice that would offer both comfort and style. These outfits are a great opportunity to make an individual style statement and I will be lookbooking a favourite kaftan dress in a later post.

Shoes: I do believe that shoes make the outfit or are at least as important as the rest of the outfit. When you are destination wedding bound – shoes take on even more importance due to their possibly bulky nature. In this case, it becomes imperative to pack shoes that you know you will wear with an outfit (hopefully more) and not ones that may possibly work.  My sincere advice; pack shoes that are comfortable. The whole idea is to go and have fun – it’s not worth letting foot pain ruin your enjoyment.  Equally importantly, please pack shoes that compliment your outfit – it is truly impossible to put forth your best style statement if it is apparent that your shoes were an afterthought.

Jewellery:  Destination weddings are a great opportunity to wear some of your statement jewellery. Do carry your jewellery that compliments your outfits. If you are travelling to a foreign country and want to take real jewellery; do look into local laws of taking gold etc. into the country.  Many countries may let you take it in but will question you if they discover you are travelling out of the country with precious metals and stones.  Also, keep in mind that if you travel with real jewellery, the oweness of keeping it safe falls on your shoulders. Make sure you have a secure provision to store it.

Given the above, the following are some tips that I think are important when it comes to considering what you may want to wear to a destination wedding:

  1. Decide on outfits that complement the particular function that you have chosen them for.  You may be desperate to wear a new outfit but wearing a slinky cocktail saree to the actual wedding ceremony may look out-of-place and leave you feeling self-conscious.
  2. Do not shy away from ethnic weaves and other traditional Indian outfits.  Modern sarees and gowns look great but so does a South Indian saree with flowers in your hair.  Mixing up your sartorial choices is a great way to put forth your fashion acumen and versatility.
  3. If you have no idea what others may be wearing – try to find out.  Individuality is great, but dressing in a style that is totally out of whack with what others are wearing may leave you feeling awkward or embarrassed.
  4. Do your research on certain controversial colours before you pack.  For eg., certain families may not appreciate you wearing black to the main wedding function.
  5. If the evenings are going to get considerably colder (such as in southern California where temperatures can fall significantly once the sun sets) go prepared with a shawl or other warm garments that match or coordinate with your outfit.  It’s no point ruining your look with a puffer jacket on top of your saree to evade the cold.

Last but not least, I suggest that when you are deciding what to wear (and before you go shopping), go shopping in your closet and in the closets of those close to you such as your mother, aunts and friends. We all own beautiful clothes that have often not been worn more than a few times.  These clothes deserve another outing and choosing them will prevent you from spending more on new clothes.  As importantly, this exercise will spurn you on to mix and match in your closet and in turn create new outfits out of old ones.  I am a firm believer in this practice and I will show you my recent haul of sarees from my mother’s closet in a future post.

I hope you have found this post useful in some way. In my next post, I will share a video of my mother’s pre-pleating saree’ hack as well as my packing list for a destination wedding. Have a great weekend and thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

I want to thank Kumkum for collaborating on this post and providing this sharara that could work perfectly as a destination wedding outfit.

Contact details:
+44 7983 863852
+44 7448030545
Facebook Page: Kumkum (click here)

 

Spotlight Series: Presenting ‘Kumkum’ Indian Attire

I often get asked a variation of the following question, “Where is the best place to buy Indian clothes such as sarees, suits, lehengas etc.?” Of course, the correct answer to this question is that there is a variety of establishments and designers in London/England to purchase a great Asian outfit, depending on your needs and tastes.

This line of enquiry prompted me to think that perhaps a ‘spotlight series’ on various retailers/vendors/brands who specialise in Asian clothes and jewellery would prove to be a useful feature for my readers. My aim to feature a variety of Asian clothes/jewellery retailers and present a  snapshot summary of their vision, the products they sell, as well as their customer service policies. This type of feature would provide readers with exposure to multiple vendors that they may not have encountered in the past.

The first company I am featuring in this series is KumKum:

I have looked booked three Kumkum outfits in this post and styled them in the way that I would enjoy wearing these lovely clothes:

Black ‘ready stitched’ embroidered saree: This is the quintessential ‘works anytime for anything’ black saree. The black embroidery is exquisite and the drape lovely.  It’s zippered on the side, so the total time to put it on was under 3 minutes  – this feat alone is exceptional and added to my appreciation of this saree. The saree needed nothing more than some big earrings, a statement ring and some red lipstick. Given that it is winter and wearing a saree always poses the ‘how to stay warm’ question – I have paired it with my black leather jacket. I love the idea of a black leather jacket with a striking black saree, and I think the single colour silhouette works exceptionally well here. My husband said I look like the Punjabi version of the Scottish Widows advert.

Pink lace ‘ready stitched’ saree: Wearing this delicate lace saree with small stone embellishments, I had visions of wafting along a gorgeous lawn attending a chic spring garden party – till the freezing weather brought me back to earth!  I have styled the saree with classic pearls that I think work perfectly with the onion pink lace. I love this embellished blouse, that is both stylish and neutral enough to compliment many an Indian outfit.  My favourite part of the styling is my vintage embroidered pearl handbag that used to belong to my grandmother.

Sky blue net lehenga: This gorgeous lehenga falls firmly in the camp of what I like to call ‘happy clothes’ – clothes that put a smile on your face once you have them on. I have paired it with the same embellished blouse from above (to demonstrate the flexibility of this blouse) and some lovely stone earrings.  I wore this lehenga with flat juttis, and I appreciated just how comfortable this ensemble was to move around in.

Below are details of Kumkum in their own words:

What is your collective vision behind Kumkum? Our vision at KumKum is to be a Design House in London for Indian bridal and occasionwear, known for its design aesthetics. The finish and quality of our garments are exemplary and it does not cost the earth! The customer must be happy and that’s when we rest.

In your opinion, what are your USP/differentiating factors that make Kumkum stand out from the crowd? KumKum brings a collection of affordable fashion that is on-trend with elegant design sensibilities. Superior quality reflects in each element of our designs – be the fabric, structure, embroidery or the finishing. We provide a bespoke service for all garments. We have our own design team in New Delhi to overlook all elements of production. We provide attention to detail and dedicated customer service.
What are the clothing items Kumkum specializes in? A wide range of trendy Indian occasion wear and bridal couture. We have Lehengas, Sharara, Anarkali, Tailored draped Saris, Hand woven sarees and Palazzo suits. Men’s wear includes kurta pyjama and bundi sets in silk. We also have a curated collection of fine costume jewellery to complete the ensemble. Our clients are women and men who love to dress well and enjoy wearing good quality silhouettes.
Can you please explain your customer service policy for my readers – including ordering, delivery and returns? At present, we operate out of Wimbledon and Teddington by appointment. We also host home events regularly at both locations. Every meeting with a new customer entails a walk through of designs as per their need and occasion. We encourage customers to try out clothes so that they also get a feel of colour and styles. For Bridal wear and other big occasions, we also work out mood boards which capture the look in the context of the setting of the wedding.
One can buy off the rack or order bespoke with additional customised changes. We book orders with 50 % advance on confirmation and settle the balance on delivery
As of present no returns are allowed once purchased, as all clothes are tried and seen prior to purchase (we are not yet online).
On bespoke orders, the garment is made to order and fitted to size.
Clothes purchased off the rack need to be altered by the customers.
Contact details:
+44 7983 863852
+44 7448030545
Facebook Page: Kumkum (click here)

A while ago, Kumkum got in touch to ask if I could provide some in-person personal styling tips at one of their open houses.  I found them to be very personable and I was highly impressed with the time they took with their customers to ensure that they understood the needs of the buyer and provided a product that would be exemplary. For the record, I also found their ready stitched sarees were cut and pleated beautifully – the drape was spot on! If you enjoy clothes that are constructed with attention to detail and a quality finish – these are your ladies.

I hope that you have enjoyed getting to know more about Kumkum in my Spotlight Series.  Thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict and I look forward to featuring other brands in the months to come.

My Parenting Eureka Moment: and a Classic Wedding Saree

Hello everyone. I do not often talk about my children on this blog. As I have a teenager and a not teenager (but thinks he is one), I am conscious that while they are my children, they have their own semi-adult lives now and it may not be fair for me to be continually discussing them.  Hence, I generally refrain from it. Today, however, I am going to make an exception for the greater good.

A few days ago, I read an anonymous post by a young mother who shared that she was struggling with her two young children and allocating time for them and their activities, leaving her wondering if the time spent on hobbies/activities was worth it. Her post touched a cord in my heart as I think most adults have found themselves in a similar stretched situation.  Juggling various responsibilities in a finite amount of time is an exhausting task, even for the most organized of us (a club of which, unfortunately, I am not a member). I find that one of the biggest challenges of parenthood is dividing my time and attention to meet all the children’s needs and those of the adults that form part of my family and friends.

Often, when we are in a tricky situation it is normal to wonder if others face similar hurdles or if we are somehow specially blessed with unique trials and tribulations that seem to traumatize no one else. In times of parental anxiety, I have always found solace and a new perspective in reading about the experiences of others. In this spirit of sharing, I offer the following personal experience to the time stretched mothers and fathers who may be wondering what the results of time-consuming hobbies that small children pursue can be.

Our older son has had an aeroplane obsession for almost a decade now.  I believe that the fledgeling roots of his passion have their origin in him watching the planes fly overhead in his grandparents garden as a young child. In the beginning, he would observe planes everywhere, and he then started requesting models of airplanes. Frankly, this proved to be quite convenient as no in-depth thought was required to buy him a present – we just thought planes and came up with a smashing present every time. With time, his interest deepened and soon he would happily use his allocated computer time looking up planes and plane related facts and figures.

As his knowledge grew, so did his requirements. Soon, the obsession started getting quite expensive as now not just any plane model would do. His lovely little head only wanted die-cast models (not plastic) that had to be to 1:400 scale (my husband once made the mistake of buying a 1:600 model from Zurich airport that resulted in a big sulk). Then, one day he declared that he would like to go to the area around the airport and look at planes. So on a beautiful cold morning, my husband joined the ‘plane spotters’ brigade and took our son to look at planes. This is when the hobby took a drastic new turn.  Our son loved going to view planes and was up to ‘plane-spot’ at any time.

What happened next you ask? Dear son decided to take a picture with a phone camera of the planes he saw.  This monumental decision had a tremendous impact on his plane hobby and free time.  He wanted to take plane pictures all the time. Now, my husband happens to have a keen interest in photography and uses a great camera and some powerful lenses.  Soon enough, our offspring discovered that when daddy took a picture it had much more depth and form than his photographs.  His growing brain quickly deduced that better equipment often meant a better photograph. So next, he wanted to borrow his father’s camera and lenses. At this point, we objected and said no as he did not have the necessary know-how to use this sophisticated equipment.

Praise the Lord; it is truly amazing what children can teach themselves when they are really after something. Son went on the internet and with the wealth of knowledge available (youtube being a huge contributor) started to teach himself photography. Not only did he teach himself the basics – but he also taught himself lightroom and photoshop (but alas, he is still unable to fully figure out the intricate workings of our dishwasher).

We finally decided to take a big chance and let him loose with better photographic equipment.  He now photographs planes any chance he gets. We cannot book any trip without his input in terms of which airline, which plane and which airport we shall utilise.  Indirect flights are preferential as they offer more photography opportunities – sometimes I put my foot down when the proposition involves more than two changes. All our trips to any airport (foreign or domestic) require leaving early to build in time for photography. When we visit a new country, photography rules are researched well ahead of time and ‘plane spotting and photography’  is done at all times. This often means waking up at ungodly hours in the morning and then ubering or walking to locations that he has researched well ahead of time. We then have to stand for hours, often in rain and cold, to capture the perfect shot of a rare plane that is on its first or last journey.

Sometimes, my patience cracks and I threaten no ‘plane-spotting’ on a vacation. My husband has proved to have far more patience than me and has woken up on many a freezing morning to accompany him on a shoot.  As he is still too young to be left alone in these situations- the whole family is now subjected to his plane pursuits. Both sets of grandparents in London and Los Angeles will take the time to take him plane-spotting for hours on end at various airports. Uncles and aunts will arrange tours of regional airports and wait in cars for hours so that he can indulge his passion.

The point of the above story is simply the following.  All our children will have interests that will span a gamut of activities.  Some interests will seem most useful, and others will seem quite useless.  Often, these interests will require a big chunk of a precious commodity – our time and their time. This requirement can cause frustration and often it is tempting to just say no. However, my personal experience has taught me this. When we as parents help cultivate a hobby, we may be providing the biggest gift of all. We are helping to develop a passion that will feed their creativity for a lifetime. We are also enabling them to learn another valuable life lesson; nothing in life is free. Excelling at any skill requires enormous amounts of time and dedication. In most cases, it will require hundreds of hours of practice and often giving up precious free time in order to spend developing that skill.  We are proceeding with the plan that if we can help him understand this basic life fact and excel at a skill, then we have partly succeded in our parenting duties.

What has been the result of this time investment? His knowledge about commercial aviation is second to none and he has become a rather good photographer to boot. He has a substantial Instagram following, an aviation blog and he has managed to get his pictures published on jetPhoto. I often joke with him that I could get him a job if child labour weren’t against the law.

Below are three of my favourite photographs that the 15-year-old in question has taken in the last few years:

That said, let’s get back to fashion. in this lookbook, I am wearing a silk saree that was part of the wedding clothes gifted to me by my mother-in-law.  I loved this saree the moment I set eyes on it – yet it has never been worn in the past 17 plus years that I have owned it. Perhaps the right event never arose or like many a woman before me – I kept saving it for the perfect occasion (which in my head was a winter wedding day event). I absolutely adore the rather unusual pale pink and green colour combination and the two-toned gold and silver floral motifs that grace the saree.  I think classic never goes out of style and this silk saree hits all the classical high notes.  I have paired it with a beautiful kundan stone set from Toraan design that I have also lookbooked in a previous blog (Handloom Sarees: What Makes a Great Indian Outfit – Money or Styling?).

I hope you enjoyed this lookbook as much as I enjoyed wearing this saree.  Have a great rest of the week and thank you for visiting Isha’s Verdict.

My Diwali Outfit: and Recent Travels to Mumbai

As many of you may know from my ‘About’ section and previous posts – our family spent five years in Mumbai a few years ago.  We moved for my husband’s work and when the assignment was over – it was time to come back to London (approximately about three years ago). This October half term gone was our first time back to aamchi Mumbai since we re-embraced the bright lights of the capital.  I was actually nervous about what I would feel when I stepped on Indian terra firma; would I be ecstatic, melancholic or somewhere in between?

I needn’t have worried  – the moment I stepped onto that paisley red carpet at Chhatrapati Shivaji airport – I could feel my heart soaring and a happy Bollywood tune playing in my head (“Saree ke fall sa…” if you must know). It is natural that countries and places we have lived will always have a special place in our heart and minds. Mumbai was that ‘hostess with the mostest’ that took us in with open arms and showered us with love and warmth throughout our stay there.  Going back only confirmed what I already knew – Mumbai is an amazing city which will always be like a second home to me. Also, I have a fabulous set of friends who made this a truly memorable vacation for my whole family.

Now my visit to Mumbai coincided with the run-up to Diwali. Diwali celebrations done right and buying a new outfit go hand in hand – in fact, I think that’s an official festival rule. Also, I take pride in pointing out that during this trip to India, I was spectacularly restrained on the shopping front. I decided that I would purchase only one outfit this trip that would make my womanly heart go pitter patter every time I looked at it. This was the gorgeous ensemble I purchased and I had the opportunity to wear it to the ‘Red Bus’ event while in Mumbai.

I love everything about this outfit  – the flowing palazzos, the beaded fringed blouse and the pièce de résistance  – the flowing silk cape with patches of floral embroidery.  The outfit is eye-catching, fluidly graceful and most importantly, comfortable. I have paired it with my trusted pale pink clutch, silver sandals and a lovely pair of chandelier earrings that I purchased in Santa Cruz market.

A very happy Diwali to you and yours – have a fabulous time celebrating.  I would love to hear about your plans to celebrate this year and of course about Diwali outfits that you may have purchased.  Thank you for reading and a very happy Diwali from Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and accessories:

Outfit – XON (Pali Market)

Earrings – Silver Queen (Santa Cruz Market)

Clutch – Gucci

 

Clothes and accessories:

Outfit – XON (Pali Market)

Earrings – Silver Queen (Santa Cruz Market)

Clutch – Gucci

 

Handloom Love: Why this Gorgeous Saree is a Lovely Present

What makes a fabulous present? With age, one quickly learns that cost, size and name brands do not automatically a great present make. A great present is one that delights the recipient and brings an instant smile to the face and a warm glow to the heart. In my opinion, a heartfelt present demonstrates the givers understanding of my likes and dislikes and their intuitive ability to transform that knowledge into a present that will knock my socks off!

This stunning saree was the perfect present from a perfect lady who came to visit this summer. G, maybe my husband’s cousin but our mutual love of fashion makes us soul sisters.  The saree in this lookbook is a linen Jamdani saree hand-woven in a village called Phulia in Bengal. The talented weavers of Phulia are applying the Jamdani technique on linen fabric to stunning results.  Dola Mukherjee is the force behind these sarees – she is passionate about the weaving crafts of India and works directly with many clusters in India to preserve and promote their crafts.

My reaction to this present – I almost keeled over in delight when I saw this saree. The colours are exactly up my alley and I had no such saree in my wardrobe previously.  Furthermore, the saree was a delight to wear, the fabric moved with graceful ease and felt fabulous against the skin.  Here, I have paired it with my trusty Indian pink blouse to make the outfit pop (also because I love to mix and match from my wardobe) and these gorgeous gold and pearl earrings from Torran.

Thank you G for this thoughtful present – it has taken place of pride in my saree cupboard and I look forward to wearing it for years to come!

I hope you have a great weekend, perhaps receive a present or two and as always, thank you for reading my blog.

Accessories:

Earrings – Toraan