Black Dress Series: Pleated ‘Cold Shoulders’ With Monochrome Accessories

Happy Saturday everyone! I am a fan of black dresses and appreciate that they are a ‘constant star’ in the evening-wear constellation of dresses. Personally, I am thankful for the consistency they provide when I am not sure what to wear to an event; it is harder to wrong with a black dress compared to many others.  What is better than a lovely black dress you ask? A ‘relaxed fit’ lovely black dress that is beautifully designed, easy to move in and a great length.  This ‘cold shoulder’ dress has turned out to be a great purchase and I can see myself wearing it for many years to come.

What is the easiest way to accessorise a black dress that requires no extravagant thought or effort you also ask? In my opinion, it is hard to go wrong with the tried and tested monochrome trend.  Black and white go together like daal and rice! My black and white striped clutch and these black and white sandals are two of most versatile purchases and I have yet to encounter a scenario where I thought they would work and they haven’t.

Have a fabulous weekend and thank you so much for visiting Isha’s Verdict.  If you enjoy my posts, please do share my blog with your family and friends.

(Clothes and Accessories: Dress – & Other Stories, Clutch Bag – Dune (Similar – ASOS and Coast), Sandals – Primark (Similar – Dune)

Black Dress Series: In a Structured Workwear Dress

Hello everyone! Let’s discuss workwear today. When I started my first ‘real job’, many, many years ago, I am not sure that I paid much attention to my work wardrobe. Absorbing the general guidance provided on the internet and from what I saw around me, I bought a couple of suits and separates and stepped boldly into the working world. However, there was one problem.  Many of the clothes I had purchased were uncomfortable when worn all day long and frankly,  not very stylish.  Don’t even get me started on this bright purple skirt suit I once owned…

Today, if I had the opportunity to plan a work wardrobe, what would I do differently?

I think the three most important factors that I would consider in planning a well-functioning work wardrobe would be:

Are the clothes appropriate for my particular work environment?

Are they comfortable to wear all day?

Do they represent my personal style statement?

The dress code that is acceptable at a particular place of work is relatively easy to access after a few weeks of working there. While some environments are more rigid and formal, others are more easy-going in terms of what qualifies as workwear. In my opinion, even traditionally formal work environments require comfortable clothes on a daily basis.  I found being uncomfortable at work was  unsustainable – it had the potential to affect the quality of my work and as well as the quality of my life.  Everyone has a personal style statement but overall, showing that you take pride in your appearance is the underlying foundation of being stylish at work. In my opinion, workwear does not need to be dull but a certain restraint is necessary unless you work in a creative environment where you are encouraged to express your self through your clothes without hesitation.

As work wear, I am a great fan of the structured form of this dress.  It strikes a delicate balance between being chic and comfortable, which can be harder to find than one may think.  The lack of embellishments on the dress make it a great canvas for adding a few bold accessories to complete the look. I have added a bold geometric cuff to the outfit to channel confidence and style. I love the gradual ombre’ gold effect on this patent mid-heeled court shoe and as it is tastefully done, I think they can be worn to work.  Wearing heels to work is not be everyones’ cup of tea and even if they are, we all have those days when we are not in the mood to strut around in heels. Therefore, I have also ‘lookbooked’ the dress with flat brogues that are both comfortable and stylish at the same time. I have to say that brogues are my ‘most likely to go to’ kind of non-heeled work shoe.  They make any outfit look smart and there are so many lovely statement brogues available on the market.

I hope you enjoy this look and thank you so much for visiting my blog.

(Clothes and Accessories: Dress – COS (similar), Heeled Shoes – Karen Millen, Brogues – Finery, Handbag – Prada)

Black Dress Series: At ‘The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon’ In My One Shoulder Black Dress

Like many of us who straddle two or more countries in terms of our residence and our family’s residence, we look forward to visiting our family in California every summer.  Apart from spending time with family, the most exciting factor that makes us count down the days to crossing the Atlantic is food!  My family and I are foodies in every sense of the word and exploring new places to eat is always something we look forward to in any country we visit.  My brother and sister-in-law, fellow foodies, are the designated family members in-charge of the noble effort of finding new eating establishments that we can all contribute our collective earnings to all summer long!

For the past year, they have been telling us that we must go to this new restaurant they had the pleasure of visiting, that was more than just a place to eat but rather a great eating and entertainment experience called ‘The Ranch’ restaurant and saloon in Anaheim, Orange County, California (not far from Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center).  We had a reservation for last Saturday and I called ahead of time to introduce myself and ask if it was OK for me to take pictures for my blog. I spoke with David Grant, the General Manager, who was incredibly helpful and kind enough to give us a private tour of the whole operation from private dining kitchen and wine cellar to main restaurant and saloon.

The Ranch is split into the main restaurant and the saloon area, both offering very different but attractive environments. I particularly appreciated the great attention to detail such as wall decor stylishly crafted with leather belts and the state of the art sound and acoustics thanks to the expertise of Extron Elecronics, the company owned by the founder of the Ranch, Andrew Edwards.The tour of the building was fascinating with state-of-the art audio visual technology that would make the Tony Stark’s home look passé – drop down screens, cutting edge sound systems and insulation that would be fit for the Oval Office!

The saloon part of the establishment is a country music night club that has an exciting vibe with live music and a large dance floor. Guests can enjoy a country dance disco from their very own private dining booths overlooking the dance floor where smartly turned out cowboys and cowgirls were all having a great time! Don’t be fooled – this may be the place for 2-step but it’s no place for those that have two left feet. Many of patrons are ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and it was truly wonderful to see all the dancing talent burning up the floor! Apparently, everyone is very helpful if you are a beginner and encourage you to join in and enjoy the country dancing.

The restaurant and saloon are housed on the ground floor of the multi-story building and some of the other floors contain private dining rooms that have different capacities (with panoramic views of Disneyland fireworks from the private balconies) and are available to book for conference and banqueting events.  All private events catering is cooked to order and this is no mean feat when you have hundreds of hungry stomachs to satisfy at important functions such as weddings. I was highly impressed with the private kitchen that is reserved for preparing the custom food for events – they were actually plating an appetizer when we went in for a look and I had to work hard to resist not pinching one of those jumbo prawns that came fresh off the chef’s table. I would host a function here in a heartbeat!

The whole concept of ‘The Ranch’ is based on The Edwards Ranch Estates private farm in the foothills of Orange County which is less than 20 miles away from the very place where the culinary maestro and his team work their magic. In line with the philosophy of seasonal freshness and natural produce, The Ranch has a four season framework ensuring not only that all food is cooked only when in season, but that diners are afforded the variety that they so look forward to.

We had the pleasure of meeting Michael Rossi , the Executive Chef, and his fellow Pastry Chef (and brother) David Rossi before we ate. One of the most fantastic dishes I ever tasted was the tomato salad  – it was hard for us to get our head around how amazing a simple fresh tomato dish can taste! All the produce (including the tomatoes)  comes from the private farm that is home  to over 600 Heirloom Tomato vines featuring 90 different varieties of tomatoes. Our group of six people ordered various dishes and while the steak was excellent, the Colarado grass-fed lamb chops were to die for and well cooked and simply plated sea bass was excellent. As I have mentioned before, I am sugar addict and a self-styled guru of deserts and the popcorn ice cream was stunning (and I don’t even normally like ice-cream). This is a creation of Pastry Chef David Rossi and if there was ever a Nobel Prize for ice cream, this one would win this hands down!

The cocktails were truly world class and after having had the privilege of seeing the range of “farm inspired cocktails” which showcase a fascinating selection of in-house infused spirits such as Buffalo Trace infused with Valencia oranges, watermelon infused Purity vodka and farm blueberry & lemon verbena infused Del Maguey Vida Mezcal with farm strawberry and lemon cordial. The wine list was very impressive from entry level reds and whites to suit the most constrained budgets all the way up to the Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon of Napa Valley fame which you might have to pawn your shiny Rolex for!

Some of our guests opted for a modestly-priced port to finish with, but if you are with bling company of the likes of P Diddy or Jay-Z, there is always the 1834 Malvasia Madeira! This time you may need to sell a kidney, and as you sip you can allow yourself to ponder over the fact that President Abraham Lincoln (16th US President) had not even reached office yet when this was bottled in 1834 (the GM did mention that the shiny new label reflected a cleanup of the bottle).

It’s one thing restaurants promoting fresh produce and farm to plate cuisine, it’s another thing tasting this freshness yourself as a diner. This place delivers impeccably produced and curated dishes that miss out the foo-foo-ness that comes with much high-end dining, and really deliver what they say – solid authentically created and delicious food. California and the USA as a whole has a wonderful reputation for high end steak restaurants, but this place has a myriad of eclectic offering that went far beyond steak and that most places would struggle to compete with. I would highly recommend a trip to The Ranch! Once you have finish traipsing around Disneyland with the kids you can treat yourself to The Ranch, a ‘Disneyland for the Mouth’ of sorts as described by General Manager David Grant.

I decided this evening would be a great time to wear one of my all time favorite black dresses – a one shoulder black dress that has some lovely bright turquoise and orange bead-work on the opposite shoulder.  I think the sheer simplicity of this dress is a great nod to wearing a sophisticated look without being boring! This dress is also a fine testament to the fact that great fashion does not need to be a slave to price – I bought this dress years ago at T.J Maxx (the cousin of T.K Maxx in the UK) for approximately $20.  I enjoy this dress every time I wear it and a simple pair of heels and some statement jewellery is all that is needed to dress it up!

Thank you so much for reading. You can visit The Ranch website at http://www.theranch.com

(Clothing and Accessories: Dress – Maggy London (T.J. Maxx), Earrings – Zara, Cuff – Vince Camuto, Shoes – Vince Camuto)

Black Dress Series: Sweater Dress With A Twist

There are so many beautiful black dresses in the black dress universe, but one star that deserves a special mention is the humble black sweater dress.  What it may lack in intricacy, it more than makes up for in practicality. Given my country of residence and my predisposition to feeling cold, it is this very practicality that makes sweater dresses much-loved  garments in my wardrobe. We all tend to repeat certain clothing combinations very often, and pairing a sweater dress with warm leggings and long boots is a combination that works really well for me in the winter and during sudden cold spells in the spring, like the one we had last week.

I love the silhouette of this dress and the sideways high low form elevates the overall look of this sweater dress.  This 100% wool dress has a lovely peplum-like gathered skirt on one side that adds just that right amount of drama to make this dress suitable wear for a variety of occasions. I have worn this dress with a clutch bag to more formal events and with a bigger bag for more casual occasions and it seems to work effortlessly in both scenarios.

Thank you so much for reading and have a great Tuesday!

(Clothing and Accessories: Dress – COS, Boots – Dune Black, Handbag – Burberry)

Black Dress Series: Pleats and Lace

I have yet to meet a lady who wears dresses and doesn’t own a single black dress. Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of black dresses that includes everything from the little black dress (LBD) to the big black dress (BBD) and every other kind of black dress in between!  I think there are a variety of reasons black dresess are so popular: they are versatile and everything matches them, there are so many styles available on the market, it is the most popular colour for a black tie affair, someone has convinced women-kind that black makes us look slimmer and most importantly, you can wear them with black shoes!

I love black dresses for all the reasons above but also because they seem to work well for the most casual of looks to the most dressy ones.  It’s amazing that just when I think I must never buy a black dress again, I will see a design that will make my heart skip a beat. Given my love for black dresses, I thought it a good idea to do a black dress series.  As I had mentioned my fondness for pleats last week, I decides to start the series with this pleated dress from Karen Millen.  I like the way that the pleats and lace have been juxtapositioned on the bodice and I love the easy to wear length on this dress. I look forward to ‘lookbooking’ other black dresses in this series and hearing about your black dresses as well.  Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great week ahead!

(Clothes and Accessories: Dress – Karen Millen, Shoes – Vince Camuto, Clutch Bag – Gucci, Earrings – Banana Republic, Watch – Cartier)