New ‘Wear Any Wear’ Purchase: Pleated and Polka Dotted Swing Dress

I know, almost for a fact, that we have all been there! We have all been gifted or acquired a gift card for a shop that we do not usually shop in and then proceeded never to use it.  Sure we make a half-hearted effort to stop by when we are passing that establishment – but there is never enough time or a determined will to find something we like.  So we continue to carry the gift card around, bemoaning the fact that we never find anything we like, and the cycle continues.

Well, I have done it!  I had a River Island gift card that had been knocking around my bag for ages and I finally spent it right before I went on holiday. I walked into the store and it must have been my day because I spotted this dress immediately.  I love the combination of the pleats and polka dots in an easy to wear swing cut. It’s an ‘easy to wear’ dress that works great with flats during the day, heels at night and soon tights and boots in the upcoming winter months.  It also has full sleeves so it can accommodate many a layer underneath.

Now you may question my rationale for taking a full sleeves dress to Miami in the summer but hey – it was new so it had to be done.  For it’s US outing, I had paired it with my trusted pair of low heels (perfect for holidays) and some dangly earrings.

It was a windy (hurricane expected) evening when I took these pictures so they are my first set of night pictures.  I hope you like this lookbook and as always, thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and accessories:

Dress – River Island (I am wearing a size 6 as they run a bit big I think)

How Can You Look Instantly Stylish?: Keep it Deceptively Simple

I am not going to lie – I love a fabulously put together, complicated outfit, where the juxtaposition of the print and strips works in perfect harmony with an expected pair of fabulous shoes, and is pulled together in a cohesive fashion statement by an extravagantly over the top coat in a gorgeous colour. Stylish – check; fashionable – check; trendy  – check; every day achievable – not quite!

A meticulously curated complex fashion statement is a delight to behold and is indeed an art form.  Is it a realistic expectation for the average woman who waked up early every morning to begin a new day of juggling a multitude of life’s expectations?  I most certainly think not; except for those of us who may be blessed with exceptional taste, it is near impossible to pull together highly stylised ensembles that require considerable thought on a day to day basis.

Let me share a small story – a few weeks ago, I started noticing that a particular polka-dotted white and black loose fit dress by Zara was obviously selling very well (I do not own one). The reason I noticed this was because I was seeing this dress quite often and often multiple times a day in London.  I remember making a mental note that it was so interesting that such a deceptively simple dress should be so well-liked.  I did not realize that I was not the only one to pick up on this independently – till I saw the following article on The New York Times website –  The $50 Dress That Conquered Britain

Only once I had read this article did I realize that I was late to the game but my observations were correct – this dress is a cult hit!  It is indeed a best seller and even has an Instagram page dedicated to women wearing it. Various articles have been written about the success of the dress and Zara is still selling it – back for a second season.

This begs the question – why is this dress so popular?  In my opinion, the single most important reason is that it is deceptively simple to wear in every sense of the word.  It is a relaxed fit, a comfortable midi length and can be dressed up and down with any combination of accessories. The print is a simple canvas that allows you to wear any shoe, jewellery, handbag, coat in your wardrobe and still make the overall effect look well pulled together.  This is the kind of dress that lets the wearer interpret it to work with their body, to their convenience and to their taste – not the other way around!

This is why I believe that one simple recipe to looking instantly stylist is to keep it deceptively simple. Simplicity can indicate a measured restraint and radiate a quiet confidence that translates into a formidable fashion statement; it shows that you understand that sometimes less is more and allows your personality to do the talking.

I am a huge fan of single colour dresses and they make up a good chunk of my wardrobe.  They stand the test of time well and they also present an unlimited opportunity to try out various combinations of accessories and shoes.

In this lookbook, I am wearing a beige dress and a white dress that are simple but their cut and style are highly stylized in my opinion. I have paired my beige dress with an old statement cuff (animal print is still all the rage) and a bold bag to make for a sophisticated work look. I have paired the white dress with a gorgeous Indian necklace from @toraandesign and the simplicity of the white dress really provides a chance for the statement necklace to shine. COS is a great source of single colour dresses with a novel cut; in the summer and the winter – I am a fan!  I hope you enjoy these looks and have a great week ahead.  As always; thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories: 

White shirt dress – COS (old)

Beige A-line Dress  – COS

Indian Necklace – Toraan Design 

‘Cult Dress’ – Zara

Seriously Boho Summer Ahead: Cotton Dresses, Silver Jewellery and Trainers

The weather has been teasing us; giving us glimpses of cotton candy clouds nestled against a blue sky and then back to rain-soaked gloomy days that try your patience in the worst possible way. Its a losing battle for the weather and soon it will have to give in to the impending summer that is fast approaching – or so I fervently hope!

On the few sunny days we have had so far, I am finding myself increasingly drawn to relax fit cotton dresses, my stash of ethnic Indian silver jewellery and my collection of converse trainers.  Relaxed fit clothing is not everybody’s cup of tea; I, however, am a sucker for a relaxed outfit that’s easy to wear all day long.

I normally refrain from commenting on movie stars in my blog but I am going to make an exception today.  Let’s talk Sonam Kapoor; I know many consider Sonam Kapoor a bona fide fashionista and others vehemently disagree.  Overall, I am a fan of her personal fashion statement and styling choices.  Sure she gets it wrong sometimes, but honestly who doesn’t! One of the reasons I am a fan is because way back in the day, I found her to be one of the few mainstream actresses who was happy to step out and make a statement in fashionable relaxed clothing (and champion other styles I love like brogues) and didn’t always feel the need to be seen in figure-hugging clothes at all times like many others.  I appreciated her diverse approach to clothing (it was a breath of fresh air)  and how she was able to oscillate between a variety of styles and have some fun with fashion.  For this versatility alone – I am in the fan club camp and always look forward to seeing her fashion choices.

I have already seen quite a few relaxed summer dresses that I have my eye on and I think the battle this summer may be to refrain from buying any more.  Ironically, perhaps, some more shapely dresses need to make it into my wardrobe this summer.  Below I am wearing two relaxed fit dresses that I have purchased recently.  The first dress is a relaxed Midi dress from Zara with a linen scarf and silver converse sneakers. The second dress is a striped cotton dress from Uniqlo – they always do great fuss-free summer cotton dresses and I buy one at least one every year. I have paired it with my beloved yellow converse sneakers for a pop of colour.

These relaxed fit dresses will be a summer staple as soon as summer actually arrives! How do you feel about relaxed fit wear – do you loathe it, like it or love it like me? Have a great weekend and hopefully the sun will be out soon.  Thank you so much for reading Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress 2 – Uniqlo 

Dress 1 – Zara

Blue Handbag – All Saints 

Glasses – Tory Burch 

Trainers – Converse 

Scarf – Massimo Dutti 

Personal Perspective: Where to Start When the Style Spark is Gone

We have all been there.  Now you may think it presumptuous on my part to assume a collective assessment but I really think when it comes to this issue, we have all been there.

There are times in our lives where our precious 24 hours a day are choked full and circumstances are such that we cannot deviate from an exhausting pre-set routine. These times are often coupled with key life situations such as rearing young children, caring for loved ones or intense work pressures.  Add to this mix a general displeasure with our weight or appearance and it is easy to fall into a fashionless or ‘severely style limited zone’ of everyday dressing.

I distinctly remember my routine when my older son was in nursery, the younger son was still at home full day and I was not working. The day started early with breakfast feedings and nursery dropoffs; continued with grocery runs, cooking, cleaning, baby groups, nap time; followed by nursery pickup, playtime, bathtime, dinnertime and ended with two exhausted parents sleep time.  Now while it was a glorious time in my family’s development, it was also a time where I couldn’t fit into half my wardrobe, was constantly sleep deprived and in a pre-set routine that didn’t leave much time for fashion.  More importantly, having reached the stage of wearing pyjamas and sweatpants in a comfortable circular loop, it had become tedious to even think about stepping out of this rut and reclaiming some style ground in my daily life.

I do want to make the point that this is perfectly fine and a loop I still fall into now and then. We don’t owe anyone a better appearance – I leave the house with my hair in a ponytail, no makeup and uninspired clothing all the time because I never want to ever feel imprisoned in any way by an expectation of appearance or lose the mental liberty to walk around as I please.

However, when you are ready, what’s the best way to get back into a better dressed daily self when you feel that the style spark is gone?  As with any rut, it can be hard to find a good starting point to climb out of it and reclaim some fashion ground.  So here is what works for me; I start with trying to upstyle my jeans look, one baby step at a time. I find that even when our daily style has hit rock bottom, we all have jeans and tend to reach for them on a regular basis. So I start by trying to better my jeans styling; by putting on a better top, trying a different pair of shoes from my wardrobe (that I am saving for no reason) and maybe adding a scarf or pulling out a different coat from my wardrobe. This ‘jeans baby step method’ of slowly improving your daily look is size and shape independent and that is why it works well for me as a stepping stone in the right direction.

I love the colour yellow so I have decided to wear this yellow tunic more often that has been sitting in my wardrobe for a while now. Yellow and blue is one of my favourite combinations, so I hope you enjoy this look and have a fabulous Easter weekend.  As always, thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories:

Top – Massimo Dutti

Jeans – Uniqlo

Coat – Massimo Dutti

Scarf – H&M

Shoes – Massimo Dutti

Handbag – Dooney and Bourke

 

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 1: The Preliminary Steps to Being a Best Dressed Guest

Destination weddings are really having their moment in the sun and it’s very likely that you will be attending one in the near future. Wanting to look your very best is an integral part of attending weddings and attaining this is easier than you may think.

The key factor to recognise is what you have packed in your suitcase is what you will have available to make an effective style statement throughout the wedding.  What does this mean?  In one simple word – organization.

Being a best-dressed guest at a destination wedding requires top class organization.  Nothing should be left to chance because you are there to enjoy the celebratory atmosphere, the company of other guests, and perhaps lend a helping hand if required.  No part of your planning should include, “I need to pop to the shops to buy a pair of gold heels for tonight”, once you are there.

As I discussed in the video, your best-dressed self for a destination wedding starts when you leave the house for the airport.  So what should you wear to travel in?

Now, of course, the choices are endless and dependent on many factors such as your travel companions (kids or elderly parents) and the total length of your travel.  My general advice is that unless you are very comfortable in heels, wear flat comfortable shoes that look good and can be worn on your return journey. If you live in a relatively cold country, travel with a light coat that may be necessary on both your way there as well as on your return journey home.  Carry a handbag that can hold your essentials and is smart enough to carry in case you have a leisurely day out with other guests at the wedding.

Below, I have lookbooked an outfit that may work if you are travelling a rather short distance (say to Spain or Italy from England) for a destination wedding. I personally would not wear a dress on a long flight but a short flight presents a unique dress wearing opportunity.  I love the idea of showing up to a wedding wearing a fun dress with a lip print to echo the celebration of love and affection of the nuptials that you will be attending. I have teamed it with my trusted broken in black and white pumps that are uber comfortable and work with a myriad of outfits.  I have topped it off with a water-resistant beige trench coat (trendy yet classic) and a black tote that can be used for a day out and will hold your essentials for the plane. Make sure it has a zipped pocket for important documents (Pictures at the bottom of the post).

Even before we discuss the preliminary aspects of packing for the wedding, remember the following:

  1. Grooming: Plan to get your waxing, threading, manicures, pedicures, hair colouring and hair cuts done well ahead of the day you leave for the wedding.  Tempting as it is – I strongly advise not leaving these grooming aspects for your destination. Once you get there, it could be more hassle than its worth.  You may not like the haircut, the wax may burn your skin – the possibilities for minor disasters are endless (I know because I have been there so many times). Even, if you are going to your home town, try to go a day early and get it all done so that you are ready well before the wedding celebrations start.
  2. Luggage: Packing for a destination wedding is a masterclass in packing smart; every item you pack must serve a purpose and clothes and accessories must double up to be of service in multiple outfits/looks. It is hard to pack light for an entire wedding so plan to take your luggage allowance of at least a suitcase. Take a suitcase in good condition and preferably water-resistant in case it stands around on the tarmac in the rain with your glad rags in it.

Next time on the blog, I will discuss the key factors to consider in terms of outfit selection, accessories, jewellery and shoes. I will also share my handy packing list and other tips to help ensure your attendance is fuss-free, and you are your stylish self at the celebrations.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I would welcome any feedback.  Thank you so much for taking the time to read Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Jolie Moi

Shoes – Karen Millen

Handbag – Longchamp

Personalised Wallet – Aspinal of London

Mac – Marks and Spencer

 

Suited and Booted: My Top Three Reasons for Purchasing a Suit (and my first video clip)

Hello, everyone.  It has been a long time coming and I have finally succumbed.  Please see below my first video clip on this blog where I talk about the top three reasons why next time you go shopping for work clothes; consider buying a suit.  Now I confess that I was nervous, but I was equally determined to try this week.  So without further ado –  here I am.

I am currently loving the monochrome suits (see Zara) I have seen on the high street.  Single colour suits, in bright colours, would make a perfect blank canvas outfit to accessorize, or not, as you wish.  A great feature of suits is that you can buy the blazer and the bottom separately; perfect for people who are not proportional and need a different size for the top and bottom such as me.

I love the classic check on this suit and I am ecstatic that I bought it for £65 total in the sale. I have lookbooked it with a variety of tops, shoes and handbags to demonstrate its versatility.  I hope you enjoy the video – I know the content may be simplistic but I am hoping to build on this start with better content in future attempts.

Have a fabulous rest of the week and thank you so much for visiting my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Striped Jumper – ARKET

Trousers – Massimo Dutti

Jacket – Massimo Dutti

Red Handbag – Prada

Black handbag – Longchamp

 

January Sales: Some of My Sale Purchases and What to Buy Now in the Sales

Happy start of the week everyone. The sales have been on since last year, but I believe now is when the seasonal sales get really interesting.  The stores have now further discounted sale items and this is the right time to strike!  In my opinion, this week is a great time to get some genuine bargains, especially if you are looking for a relatively expensive item such as a new leather jacket or a fancy new coat. The downside is that your size may have sold out, however, it is worth checking other stores that may carry the brand or even the original brand website several times as sizes do come back on.

Substantial buys such as leather jackets are staples and less susceptible to change in the swift winds of fashion. A leather jacket you may buy in the sale today is likely to be severely discounted but will still be bang on trend for the rest of the year and beyond. The store may release it again with silver buttons instead of gold in the new year, but when you see it next month for full price you are going to mighty pleased with your gold-buttoned jacket!

In this lookbook, I have showcased two of my recent favourite sale purchases from COS. My love for sweater dresses is eternal and I am happy to add this pale grey A-lined number to my collection.  The band across the back is my favourite part of the dress and its neutral front makes it perfect for accessorizing with a variety of pieces.  I have teamed it with a pretty scarf my mother got me from India (bless our lovely mothers who always come back with presents), my high heel navy boots and my favourite tan coat. This dress can literally be worn with anything and its generous shape is a Godsend in terms of comfort and wearability.

The second sale purchase is a cream longline sweater vest that I have been looking at for a long time in the store. I don’t know if you do this as well, but I often find myself eying something up in a shop – knowing I love it and will wear it often – but then not buying it  – but still looking at it every time I go into that shop or look online.  It’s like a buyers paralysis in terms of executing the purchase but a stalkers determination in viewing it regardless! Back to my vest; I have teamed it with jeans, brown boots and my teddy coat for a cosy and warm outfit I have already worn a couple of times over.

Of course, I have been checking out my favourite websites for sale items (my friend calls me the ‘What’s on sale Guru’) but unfortunately, as the saying goes, ‘Even a bargain costs money’ and I can’t have it all. I can, however, point you in the direction of some of my top items on sale in case you in the market for something similar.  Below are five of my high street favourites on sale:

Ted Baker Shearling Biker Jacket – stunning jacket that will be a staple
Karen Millen – A great work coat that will go with everything – extra 20% on top of the sale price
Reiss – gorgeous wear-anywhere dress
Zara – Lovely going out dress in the summer, and in the winter with a polo neck underneath
Karen Millen – A party staple that will serve you well! There is an extra 20% on the sale price

 

 

 

 

 

Monki coat – it’s fun and has a detachable collar in a funky faux fur
Reiss – A short coat in the supposed colour of the upcoming season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothes and accessories:

Dress – COS (this colour is sold out online but you may find in the store)

Coat – Massimo Dutti

Boots –

Bag – All Saints

Sweater Vest – COS 

Boots – Frye

Teddy Coat – Warehouse

Jersey Long sleeve Animal Print Top – H&M

 

 

My Take: The Old, the New and the Constant Key to Improving Your Style Statement

A very happy New Year to all my lovely readers! I hope 2019 will prove to be all we hope for; health, happiness and a healthy dose of great fashion thrown in for good measure.

My year started with a conversation that I have had many times before. The discussion revolved around the basic question of how does one go about improving their fashion statement and become a better dresser over time. The essence of the question remained the same: ‘ What in my opinion,  is the basic key to becoming a better dresser?”

Of course, this is a subjective question with many correct answers. I found that my answer remained the same as it was before. ‘For one to become a better dresser – one needs to put some thought into it”. Now I try never to repeat content on this blog but on this occasion, I will repeat myself in order to present my personal view on the key to strengthening your fashion game.

Personally, I have only ever met a handful of people who can just throw on anything they pull out of their closet and walk away looking like a million bucks. Dressing well may be an innate talent in a select few, but for most well-dressed people it is a talent they have worked hard to cultivate.

Most of the people I know who are consistently well dressed are individuals who put thought into their wardrobes. They read, explore and experiment with fashion and over time they learn what works best for their bodies and personalities. In my opinion, budgets and sizes don’t really play a big part in it – some of the best-dressed people I knew at university were starving students in all shapes and sizes.  However, they all had one thing in common – they were not dismissive of fashion but rather used it as a tool to express themselves. To sum it up, ‘effortless style’ is rarely as effortless as it seems.

Fashion is obviously not the most important or immediate concern for most of us but being well presented does have many benefits. The following would be my list of ‘How to Dress Better 101’, this time with an afterword:

  1. We have heard it a million times before but do plan what you are going to wear the night before;

  2. If you love a look in a shop window – do not hesitate to buy it ‘as it is in the window’. Someone is paying the window stylist to put that outfit together so you may as well take advantage of it;

  3. Try putting clothes/colours together that you normally just wouldn’t pair together. This skill becomes better with practice – just like doing quadratic equations;

  4. If you have little interest in fashion and/or no time to think about your wardrobe but would still like to look good – hire a personal stylist. Pay someone for the knowledge that you do not possess and have no time to cultivate – just like hiring a plumber. You might not agree with everything they say, but you may be pleasantly surprised at some of their suggestions;

  5. If you do not want to get advice from magazines, or shop windows or stylists then try to buy neutral staples and match them together – like a nice black jumper and basic black boots. It is not advisable to just throw clothes on that lack any sense of cohesiveness as an outfit.

We all have an innate fashion sense which is a natural extension of our creative selves.  Do not disregard your inner fashion voice and what inherently appeals to you – the styles that you naturally gravitate towards on a daily basis.  This is important for two reasons: a) styles we naturally like are the ones we will feel most comfortable in and therefore, more confident; b) our natural style is often built on the knowledge we have collected over the years about what works for our bodies and lifestyle.  In my opinion, the key is to recognize what we like and then build upon that fashion platform to incorporate new ideas and experiment with more adventurous fashion without feeling compelled to jump off the deep end into unchartered fashion waters.  By all means jump – but only when you are ready and willing!

More importantly, dressing better is less than half the equation to looking and feeling better. Being kind, compassionate, helpful human beings, enjoying the world around us and looking after our health helps bring that ultimate glow that lights us up from within.

In this lookbook, I am wearing one of my favourite styling methods – combining black and white stripes with cheerful florals.  This cashmere sweater is a lifesaver in the winter and I love the whimsical effect of this embroidered skirt. I have paired it with a bright pink coat and mid-heel boots to ensure an outfit that I am comfortable wearing all day long.

I hope you enjoy this post and have a great week ahead.  As always, thank you for taking the time to read Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and accessories:

Skirt – H&M 

Sweater – Nordstrom Rack 

Coat – Miss Selfridge

Clutch Bag – Zara

Boots – Dune

 

Merry Christmas 2018: Mixing and Matching Cheer

Hello everyone.  I wanted to reach out this morning and wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope that Santa and other benevolent beings bring you all that you had hoped for and you have a wonderful day filled with laughter, loved ones and lebkuchen (I love those treats).

A festival is a festival and festive dressing should be a celebration of style, occasion and special pieces that exemplify the festivities. I have made no secret of the fact that I am a fan of fusion dressing and mixing ethnic and western styles is an exercise I always enjoy. I often heard friends bemoaning the fact that Indian costume jewellery is underutilized in their daily lives. This Christmas, I wanted to attempt a festive look that combined the Christmas spirit with some complementing ethnic jewellery that many of us have in our wardrobes.

In this lookbook, I have paired an off the shoulder red jumper with black wide-leg trousers and boots.  I have topped it off with my favourite cream coloured teddy coat of the season and a trusty green clutch as a nod to Christmas colours.  Finally, I have accessorized with this beautiful jewellery from Torran design to help set the look apart.  This is not a pairing that I would wear every day but given the festive season  – it’s a great statement outfit and one that’s sure to stand out from the crowd.

Have a truly fabulous holiday season and I hope that you enjoy the festivities to their fullest. Thank you so much for reading my blog – your support is truly appreciated.

Clothes and accessories:

Jewellery – Toraan 

Teddy Coat – Warehouse

Jumper – Karen Millen

Trousers – Zara

Clutch – ASOS