‘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

‘Rescue Mission Series’: How I Updated My Lehenga for Diwali (for £20)

This is the lehenga and dupatta I wore to my wedding Sangeet many years ago (with a different blouse that time has not treated very well).  I was going through a ‘less is more’ phase during that time in my ‘fashion life’ and pale colours and minimal embellishments were my clothes of choice.  How time changes us – I think if I was to get married today I would be wearing Sabyasachi, Anu Modi and Ritu Kumar to name just a few.  The only restraint I would be able to show is restraining myself from putting them all on together! Of course, that would just be for the engagement…

Despite my preferences for wedding attire changing from ‘less is more’ to ‘more is more’  – I had a great Sangeet and this lehenga rightfully holds the sentimental values of the start of a new life.  It is a pretty lehenga that radiates good vibes and I enjoy wearing it ever so often. This Diwali, I thought it is a great time for a ‘rescue mission’ of this lehenga to enable me to wear it in a more casual fashion avatar than I have done previously.

I was hunting for an embellished top to wear with this lehenga when I found this pretty beaded crop top, with gorgeous fringing, for just £20 online at ASOS.  While this may not be a traditional blouse, it is a statement top that adds a different dimension to the overall look and gives me a chance to rescue this lehenga from the confines of my wardrobe in a quick and easy manner.  There are so many pretty crop tops available on the high street that pair well with Indian clothes.  Of course, a made to measure blouse or top is always a great idea that looks fabulous.  However, sometimes when the situation dictates minimal time and effort – a crop top from the high street is a wonderful alternative.

I hope you enjoy this lookbook and thank you for visiting my blog.  Have a great weekend and I hope you get to enjoy some pre-Diwali festivities in the next few days!

Clothes and Accessories:

Blouse – ASOS (£20)

Earrings – Ishariya

‘Rescue Mission Series’: Floral Sari With a Crop Top Blouse

Over 16 years ago, I remember going to ‘Redondo Beach’ Swap Meet (like a flea market) in California because my mother and I happened to be in the area and decided to pop in as one does.  I remember wandering around and then stopping at a stand that seemed to have some interesting fabrics. At the back of one of the stall owner’s many rolls of fabric, was this stunning pure silk crepe yellow fabric with beautiful flowers that felt like butter in my hands.  I asked my mother what I could do with it and she suggested that it would look great as a sari.  I asked the man how much material he had and it must have been my lucky day because he had just enough for one sari.  I bought it on the spot!

Originally, this sari had a matching yellow blouse.  Like many women, I have been a variety of sizes through various phases of life and the blouse unfortunately, did not survive the many changes that I inflicted on it in the way of alterations. As a result,  I have this lovely sari with no blouse and I did not want to go to the effort to get another blouse made for it.

Given the abundance of beautiful crop tops that are currently on the market, I thought a contrasting crop top was the way forward . As the saying goes, ‘Somebody’s crop top is somebody else’s sari blouse’ – ok perhaps there is no such saying currently but there is always a first for everything.  I thought I would experiment with this green crop top as I especially like the full sleeves on it.  I loved the way it looked together and it was a great solution to my missing blouse problem .  This is a simple crop top, however there are some beautiful crop tops in the shops that I think would make great sari blouses.

Of course, a custom-made blouse for a sari is a match made in heaven and that is hard to beat. However, if you have a sari lying around that needs a new blouse or you just want to try something different with a sari in your closet, then a crop top from the hight street may just be the answer.

I hope you have enjoyed this lookbook and as always, thank you so much for visiting my blog.

(Clothes and Accessories: Blouse – TopShop , Bracelet – Ishariya, Earrings – H&M)

 

Below are some crop tops that I think would make fabulous sari blouses.

Mango Crop Top
Zara Crop Top
TopShop Crop Top

 

 

 

 

 

‘Rescue Mission Series’: Blue Sari with Kashmiri Hand Embroidery

This month, I waded a year deeper into my forties.  I am not quite sure what to make of aging physically – it seems slow and steady but then you wake up after a night of minimal sleep and lo and behold  – you look like you have aged 10 years overnight! On the flip side, ageing mentally is proving to be an enjoyable experience that only seems to get better with every passing year.  Age has  brought about a deeper admiration for the beauty and brilliance of human ability and innovations. I have a greater appreciation for history, including my own, and the need to preserve ‘beautiful things’ that have been acquired over time and serve as symbolic markers of my life.

I have spoken about the concept of ‘Rescue Missions’ in my previous ‘Rescue Mission’ series posts:

‘My mother would often take some of her older clothes with her on trips to India and return with new outfits that were different permutations of an older outfit or two. As a teenager, I dubbed these her ‘Rescue Missions’, where she would salvage elements of an older outfit by pairing it with something new. I must admit I thought it was a waste of time and would tease her about these ‘projects’! However, as I grew older I realized that Indian clothes are so beautiful (and often so expensive) that they cannot be left to languish in a suitcase simply because the style may have gone out of fashion. The gorgeous handiwork that makes Indian wear so beautiful rarely changes; it’s the cut and style that fluctuates and then the outfit is relegated to the back of the closet and forgotten about. During my time in India, I decided I was going to embark on some of these ‘Rescue Missions’ myself!’

This crepe sari was a gift from my mother-in-law when I got married and is over 15 years old. The sari was plain blue crepe with no border or embellishments except for the column of beautiful Kashmiri embroidery on the pallu (long trailing end of the sari). The Kashmiri embroidery is truly a work of art and I would admire it every time I saw this sari in my ‘sari suitcase’ (as I always say – you can never have too much money or closet space and sadly I don’t have enough of either). Despite my admiration of the handiwork, the sari with its plain blue blouse left me uninspired every time I contemplated wearing it.

Then one day, while living in India, I decided that the time had come to perform a ‘rescue mission’ on this sari.  The sari and I went to meet a lady tailor recommended by a friend and after much deliberation she convinced me that the sari needed a border and a new blouse to increase its ‘wearability prospects’.  I wasn’t sure I fully bought into her vision but I am so glad I went with it because I think the dual coloured border and the self-embroidered blouse surpassed my expectations.  I think the ‘rescue mission’ was a success and brought this dull sari to life.

The sari is a rather unusual blue and I love the colour combinations used in this sari. The handiwork on it is exquisite and the there is a certain nostalgia associated with it as it was a wedding present .  I hope you enjoy this renewed version of this sari and thank you so much for reading.  Have a great weekend!

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My 100th Blog Post As An Over Forty Fashion Blogger: ‘Rescue Mission’ Vintage Blouse

This is my 100th blog post.  I must admit, I have surpassed my own expectations of my ability to maintain the consistency of my postings. Procrastination has been a lifelong uninvited companion and I was not sure at the start of this blogging endeavor if I would be able to escape its evil clutches on my time management skills. After some prolonged self analysis (approximately 5 minutes as I have children),  I realized why I have been able to reach this 100th post without much agony and drama.  It’s as simple as it sounds –  when you are enjoying what you do it really does become easier to continue.  I thoroughly enjoy fashion and doing this blog has been a pleasure and a fabulous learning experience.

So what have I learned from doing the previous 99 posts?  Below are the top five observations I have made since I decided to become an over forty fashion blogger:

  1. Fashion is not an age dependent variable but rather an age independent constant.  Age has definitely not diminished my passion for fashion.  If anything, it has honed my fashion sensibilities and I have a much better idea of what I enjoy wearing today than I ever did 20 years ago.
  2. Fashion blogging is great fun – I am spending more money on clothes than ever before but apparently as long as I turn my purchases into content – I am doing something worthy and deserving of kudos! Long may it continue…
  3. I have gone through more makeup in creating these 100 posts than I went thorough in my entire life before becoming a fashion blogger.  As a result, I am discovering the art of makeup, being exposed to new weird and wonderful products and I have a new found respect for makeup artists!
  4. 2016 is truly a great time to be a woman.  I can be a professional, a wife, a parent, a daughter and an over forty blogger all at once. I am not sure any generation previously was afforded the opportunities and support that is available to women in our generation.
  5. I own clothes that are older than some of the younger fashion bloggers that I follow. Clothes, like life, really do come full circle.

Today, I am lookbooking a different kind of rescue mission outfit.  We were visiting  one of husband’s favorite cousins in Kolkata and knowing me as well as she does – she took me shopping.  After exploring some beautiful sari shops we ended up at a lovely clothes and fabric shop as the last stop of the day.  As I wandered around the shop aimlessly,  I spotted a large basket in the corner with some lovely fabrics nestled in its confines.  Upon closer inspection, the basket contained some beautiful old blouses that were unlike anything I had owned before.  I inquired about them and the shop assistant told me that they were vintage blouses that they had acquired and more importantly, they were for sale.  Given the ridiculously cheap price tag on these items, I had to have them and I bought two of the lovely pieces immediately. After a good dry cleaning, I asked my mother on her next trip to India to get me a lehenga made to wear with this ‘rescue mission’ vintage blouse.  This is the creation she came back with and it surpassed my expectations! I love the simplicity and colour of this outfit. The crowning touch of the ensemble is the border of the lehenga that she has added to the back of the blouse to create a back strap and visually tie the outfit together. I wore this outfit to a sangeet (wedding function) recently and I received many compliments on this blouse that I rescued from the obscurity of the corner basket in that shop in Kolkata.

I hope you enjoy this look and thank you for so much reading.  I also wanted to extend a big thank you for the support that you have provided in helping me reach my 100th post on Isha’s Verdict.

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‘Rescue Mission’ Series: Old Gotapatti Kurta With a New Brocade Palazzo

Regardless of how you voted, the Brexit decision has now been cemented – I think!  Whether you felt elated, dejected or somewhere in between, I think we can all agree that we all witnessed history being made last week.

One of the few immediate positives of living through the referendum was that  it was a powerful example of democracy in the working, especially for school age children.  My children have learned about various forms of government over the last few  years in the classroom.  The referendum proved a great opportunity to not only show them how democracy works but more importantly to illustrate to them that sometimes your opinion wins and sometimes it loses, but learning to accept a fair result and move on is a crucial life skill.

Given the events of last week, it seems like a good time to do another ‘rescue mission’ where I take something old and combine it with something new to produce a new outfit. I thought my ‘rescue mission’ outfit provides a parallel for how events can sometimes unfold in real life. The results of the referendum demonstrated, just like my outfit, that sometimes things that may have worked beautifully for many years can ‘lose their shine’ and need to be reworked  partially or completely to better meet the needs of today.

In its past life,  this kameez and duputta existed as a lovely cheerful outfit, paired with a matching churidar. The outfit still worked well with the churidar, but I had worn it many times in its old avatar and it had lost some of its appeal.  I love the gotapatti work on this kurta and it seemed a shame to banish it to the back of the closet, so I asked my mother on her last trip to India to get me some matching palazzo pants made with it.  I am really pleased with this new combination and I think the palazzos are exactly what this outfit needed for a new lease on life!

Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great week ahead!

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Happy Mother’s Day: ‘Rescue Mission’ Lace Sari and a Much Awaited Book

I get to celebrate two different Mother’s Days every year as my mother-in-law lives in the UK and my mother lives in the USA (Mother’s Day is celebrated in March in the UK and today in the USA). I thought it an apt day to celebrate my mother by lookbooking one of her lace saris that I have now ‘borrowed permanently’.

The story goes something like this: I had always wanted a Chantilly lace sari and after seeing someone wearing a beautiful one at a party, I decided I needed to acquire one myself. As I was living in Mumbai at the time, I thought this would be an easy task and off I went to the shops. Sure enough, the shopkeepers showed me a variety of beautiful saris and I was browsing away, happy as a clam, when I made the mistake of asking what one of these cost! I had no idea that a Chantilly lace sari would be quite so expensive and frankly, I couldn’t justify the cost given that my social life did not allow for the required amount of wears to get my money’s worth.

Later that week, I was sharing this rather distressing news with my mother when she suggested that if I really wanted one  – I should just take one of hers.  Of course, I thought – why didn’t I think of that! My mother has two Chantilly lace saris that she bought in the 1970s in France and I have always admired them both.  This particular one, with the two shades of blue lace, has always been my favourite of the two. I decided that I was going to perform a ‘Rescue Mission’ (defined in this post https://ishasverdict.com/2016/01/01/happy-new-year-rescue-mission-1/ ) on this sari to prepare it for its new life in my wardrobe. I really wanted to bring out the detailing of the lace so I had a pink border added to to the sides of the sari. I like the combination of the bright pink and blue and I love how it highlights the pattern of the lace at the ends.  The lady in Mumbai I asked to make these changes for me, thought that the sari would look best with a silver blouse to match the small silver border she had also added to the end.  Personally, I thought the sari would look better with a bright pink blouse. I have worn it here with both blouses, but I think I still prefer the pink!

So a very happy Mother’s Day to you mom – thank you for the sari, thank you for teaching me how to tie a sari, and most importantly, thank you cultivating the wisdom in me that allowed me to realize that it was not in my best interests to not buy a new lace sari –  but to simply take yours!

A Much Awaited Book – ‘What I Didn’t Expect When I was Expecting’ Book 1

On a separate note, during our five year stint in Mumbai, I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with a lady named Tina Trikha.  Tina is one of those fine examples of a human being who is highly intelligent, extremely kind, and to top it all of –  she is funny as hell!

Tina has that unique ability to be enduring to all, young and old.  Tina and I had children who were friends and not only would she crack me up with her hilarious insights into her own children, but she would have me rolling on the floor with her observations of my children!

She has recently published her book ‘What I Didn’t Expect When I was Expecting’  and I cannot wait to read my copy! Given that it is Mother’s Day today,  I thought I must share this book with my readers as I am sure many of you can identify with, or know someone who can identify with, her chronicles as summarized below:

What I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting chronicles a mom’s tempestuous journey, as she raises three children, moves continents and strives to strike a precarious balance between her family and her career by ‘leaning in’ without toppling over.

The book has rollicking anecdotes—of a mother, teetering on the brink of sleep-deprivation-induced-delirium, while picking up new survival skills. These include strengthening her reflexes to dodge food projectiles; learning the art of controlling weak bladder muscles; ensuring that her family remains off ‘No fly’ lists; and remaining sober during children’s birthday parties. Along the way, we’re also witness to her comical attempts at becoming a ‘tiger mom’ as she searches for her own parenting equilibrium.

Print versions of the book are available on Amazon in India and the US. Book is also in bookstores across India. E-Book version is available around the globe on Amazon.

Happy New Year: ‘Rescue Mission’ 1

As we step into the New Year, I would like to thank you all for your support and encouraging words with the blog. When I started this blog two months ago, I was very excited about ‘lookbooking’, but also very nervous. Thanks to your kindness, I am now looking forward to all the exciting blogging possibilities for the coming year.

I wanted to start the New Year with this particular blog because I believe that while we must enter the New Year ready to grasp all the new opportunities it offers, we must also renew, refresh, and revive what is already a part of our lives and take it with us on our onward journey.

I have definitely inherited some of my passion for fashion from my mother. Growing up, I was in awe of her Indian wardrobe and its colourful contents of saris and suits. She would often take some of her older clothes with her on trips to India and return with new outfits that were different permutations of an older outfit or two. As a teenager, I dubbed these her ‘Rescue Missions’, where she would salvage some part of an older outfit by pairing it with something new. I must admit I thought it was a waste of time and would tease her about these ‘projects’! However, as I grew older I realized that Indian clothes are so beautiful (and often so expensive) that they cannot be left to languish in a suitcase simply because the style may have gone out of fashion. The gorgeous handiwork that makes Indian wear so beautiful rarely changes; it’s the cut and style that fluctuates and then the outfit is relegated to the back of the closet and forgotten about. During my time in India, I decided I was going to embark on some of these ‘Rescue Missions’ myself!

The Sari featured in this blog was originally a plain pure georgette lilac sari with Lucknowi Chikan and Mukaish work, paired with a matching plain lilac blouse. It was part of the trousseau of clothes given to me by my mother-in-law for my wedding 15 years ago. Beautiful sari – yes, beautiful work – yes, did I still like the colour – yes, was I ever going to wear it with the old blouse – no!!! The final straw was when I saw the current cost of a new pure georgette sari with Chikan and Mukaish work! I decided I was going to rescue my old sari and reintroduce it to the front of my wardrobe. I bought a new blouse in a different colour, found some contrasting borders and this was the result! I love the pop of colour that the bright pink has added and I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing this sari in its new avatar. I would love to hear your thoughts on my ‘Rescue Mission’ and I hope this post encourages you to give some of your older clothes a second twirl!

(Accessories: Earrings and Bangles – Silver Queen, Santa Cruz Market, Mumbai)