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

 

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

 

A Fabulous Winter/Summer Dress: And My Current Favourite Bakeries

Greetings everyone.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.  As my brother-in-law said, “You get less for murder”.To celebrate the best decision we ever made, we decided to go out and do what we do best; eat and drink.

As we decided to approach our ultimate destination on foot, the starting point for an outfit decision were comfortable flat shoes. I accompanied my flat boots with an easy-breezy dress by All Saints.  This really is a fabulously versatile winter/summer dress, as I have currently paired it with a sparkly polo top for warmth, and in the summer I can dispose of the undershirt and replace the boots with nice sandals.  This dress is flowly in all the right places, and the front tie can be tied or left open. I finished off the look with a crossbody bag for ease of movement and my trusty leather jacket (and a black coat on top for extra warmth).

We have a lovely evening and it was a great reminder that the best things in life are the people that surround us. Speaking of lovely things – let’s talk about my current sugar crushes.  I am a legendary consumer of baked goods and I am constantly exploring the fares of various bakeries around town. An oldie but goody that I have recently rediscovered is Gail’s.  Their cherry and dark chocolate scones and petite honey cakes are amazing. The olive bread with big chunky olives and their garlic bread with big chunky pieces of garlic are must eats and last but not least I can’t seem to get enough of their toasted turkey and cheese sandwich with spicy mayo.

The other bakery that is a current favourite is Ottolenghi.  Their lemon and blueberry cake is amazing in that both flavours come through distinctly and create a magnificent symphony in your mouth.  The flourless chocolate and coconut cakes are equally amazing in their own right.

I hope you have a sweet rest of the week.  Thank you so much for visiting isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – All Saints and All Saints  

Sparkle Polo Neck Top: Warehouse

Cross Body Bag: Yves Saint Laurent

Boots: Massimo Dutti

Leather Jacket: Massimo Dutti

 

Fall Fashion Trends: Classic Styles Revisited

It’s Autumn and the nascent winter chill is in the air. There are new fall clothes in the shops, beautiful fall clothes in our closets, and it is finally their turn to take the dance floor.  Autumn is the favourite season of so many of my friends and for good reason.  The weather is crisp and fresh, and the clothes are a refreshing three hundred and sixty-degree change from the summer clothes that have dominated the past months.  Autumn is the perfect season to show off cold weather fashion without it being so cold that all clothing is hidden by that extra thick and long coat!

So what’s new on the trend front for this Autumn? Animal print seems to be ruling the jungle at the moment – it is everywhere from dresses to coats and bags to shoes.  Animal print has always been a fall classic; however, the standout print is not without its critics.  It is probably one of the more controversial prints that people either love or love to hate.  Fans enjoy its boldness and critics find it harsh and overbearing.

I stand divided on ‘animal print’ love – for me, it depends on the fabric and the exact print that has been used on an item.  Generally, I find I enjoy wearing it most when I accessorize with it, rather than ‘go heavy’ with it covering the whole outfit.

Animal prints work well with classic fall colours and I find that pairing them with black, tan and red is a foolproof recipe for a sophisticated Autumn look. In this lookbook, I have paired my lovely animal print flats with jeans, an oversized cosy black jumper, a classic tan coat and a red crossbody bag.  I love everything about this look; it represents my personal fashion statement perfectly.

I think this time of the year is a great time to invest in some classic clothes that will carry you through the winter and into spring.  in my opinion, investing in classics such as black jumpers and tan coats will provide you with an effective canvas to build your winter look – whatever that may be.  I hope you enjoy this look and feedback is always welcome.  As always, thank you for reading my blog and have a fabulous weekend.

Clothes and accessories:

Premium Black Jumper – H&M

Tan Coat – Massimo Dutti

Flat Shoes – Zara, Similar – ASOS, and Massimo Dutti

Crossbody Bag – Salvatore Ferragamo

 

 

Indian Summer: In Easy-Going Ethnic Mix and Match Combinations

Hello everyone! I hope that you have enjoyed this glorious summer as much as I have. While there may not be too many days of summer left – I am enjoying my summer wardrobe to the maximum and making sure that I wear as much of it in the next few weeks as possible.

It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that my love of ethnic clothes spans across the entire spectrum of  Indian wear from formal attire to everyday clothes. I do find that sometimes, in our quest for formal Indian clothes, we overlook the beauty and comfort of everyday Indian-inspired fashion.  I am a huge fan of summery whimsical ethnic wear that epitomizes summer in simple prints and elegant cuts.  I have always championed the concept of mix and match across my wardrobe and nowhere do I enjoy doing this more than with the various Indian pieces that I have amassed in my wardrobe over the years.

I bought this pretty summer skirt with a bold border many years ago in Mumbai and I love pairing it with different tops for a great ethnic boho look. I have paired it here with a simple white kurta to create an uncluttered canvas for showcasing some of my lovely silver jewellery. I bought this blue kurta from Westside in Mumbai many years ago and I love the simplicity of the cut and the timelessness of the pretty print.  I want to bring your attention to the beautiful earrings that I am wearing with both these outfits that impart the perfect boho element to my overall fashion statement.  They are from Toraan and I cannot get enough of the feminine designs of these gorgeous pieces.

Like the many reminders we set ourselves, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to wear our simpler Indian clothes to everyday occasions – such as a family barbecue. They may not be your first fashion thought but given an opportunity, they always pack a powerful fashion punch and remind us that simplicity is always in vogue.

I would love to hear your thoughts on your daily Indian wear and how much use it gets during the year.  I hope you enjoy this styling and thank you so much for visiting my blog.  I am also stepping up my Instagram efforts so please do follow me on Instagram @ishasverdict

Accessories:

Earrings – Toraan 

+44 (0) 7850998335

 

Traditional Wear: My Five Rules for Effective ‘Mixing and Matching’

I have long advocated the idea of ‘mix and match’ on this blog – especially with Indian attire that never seems to get the wear it deserves.  Now I have friends who are happy to admit in the spirit of fashion honesty, that while mix and match is a great sounding idea to espouse – it is actually much harder to pull off in a desirable manner. I absolutely agree with this sentiment and my reply to them is always along the following lines.

‘Mix and match’ is an established fashion principle.  However, like most well-founded principles, there are some rules that help execute the look more effectively:

  1. Aim for an overall cohesive look – Regardless of what I am mixing and matching, I try and aim for an overall coordinated effect.  This helps tie the various elements of the outfit together to deliver a ‘sharp’ fashion look that highlights your fashion prowess.
  2. Complimentary or clashing colours – Either way, the combination of colours in your outfit should be pleasing to your eye.  If you look in the mirror and feel that these colours have nothing in common, trust your gut instinct and rework the outfit.
  3. Use different textures – Often a mixture of textures works wonders.  For example, silk and lace and linen and cotton are some of my favorite mix and match combinations.
  4. Single colour in varying shades – Creating a fashion look with a small variation in colour tone is a fabulously simple yet sophisticated look in my opinion. Different shades of grey and different shades of pink are great options to try.
  5. Combine patterns and prints – combining geometric patterns with floral prints is a key mix and match option.  I have never gone wrong with combing a striped blouse with a floral bottom – a nice black and white striped blouse is a staple in my wardrobe to be worn with a variety of combinations throughout the year.

The outfit in this lookbook is a true ‘mix and match’ ensemble that I loved wearing.  I bought this lehenga two years ago and I have featured it on this blog previously during Diwali time – Diwali Celebrations: In A Yellow And Pink Kurta And Cream and Gold Skirt. The green blouse is a recent delivery that a fabulous friend got me from Mumbai when I mentioned to her I was in need of one – it pays to know your ready-made Indian blouse size! The pièce de résistance of this look is the gorgeous jewellery set by Toraan deign. This set is everything I love about Indian jewellery – intricate in design and regal in look.  I love this entire look from head to toe as it caters to the passionate love I have for ethnic Indian outfits.  I have added some flowers in my hair to finish off a great summery ethnic ‘mix and matct’ look that would work for a vareity of occasions.

I hope you enjoy this lookbook and I would love to hear your feedback.  Have a great week ahead and thank you so much for visiting my blog.

Clothes and accessories:

Indian Jewellery Set – Toraan design £150 (please email them about this set)

Lehenga – The Silk Tree

Dupatta – The Silk Tree

Blouse – Friend – Santa Cruz Market Mumbai

 

My Top 5 Tips for Summer Holiday Packing : And My Current Favourite Holiday Dress

Hopefully, we can all find a way to take a few days off in the sun this coming summer. Summer vacations are a treat and for those of us who live in colder climates, they are a much awaited time of year.

Most of us have a good idea of what to pack depending on what kind of vacation we are taking.  These are my top tips for packing for a family summer vacation:

  1. Comfortable clothes above all else: When you are with family on vacation it is important that you are comfortable so that you can enjoy your time and be physically ready for a few episodes of intermittent sulking, possible tantrums, and accidental ice-cream spills. I find that my patience levels are intrinsically linked to my comfort levels – I am a better friend, wife, and mother when I am wearing comfortable clothes on vacation! This is not the time to pack that dress that may be too tight, too short, or you may fit into if you miraculous lose 5 pounds on the plane ride over.
  2.  Pack a few flowy dresses: On the other hand, I have often made the mistake of thinking a bit too practical and find myself in a beautiful location with linen trousers, t-shirts and not much else. Then I end up looking at women in lovely dresses and sandals and thinking I should have brought mine.  Living in London, there is not enough time for summer dresses anyway, so give yours that extra wear on vacation.
  3. Cotton: Natural, breathable fabrics look beautiful on holiday and are such a practical choice. Sometimes, it is easy to think that packing a few polyester items is a good idea to avoid wrinkles and ironing on vacation.  I always iron all my clothes at home (it really is worth it) and then a few wrinkles aren’t the end of the world.  Polyester is uncomfortable in the blazing sun and won’t absorb any perspiration, making for an awkward situation all day long.
  4. Shoes you have worn before:  I cannot tell you how many times I have made the mistake of packing brand new shoes on vacation and then bitterly regretting it. Therefore, I have a self-imposed rule – no shoes, that have not been worn previously, are allowed to accompany me on holiday. It’s natural to buy a new pair of shoes and save it for vacation – however, discovering that the shoes are highly uncomfortable or tight while on holiday is a joy-killer like none other!
  5. Cross-body bag: Absolutely the most useful kind of bag required on vacation and on most days for that matter. They look great, come in a variety of sizes and allow you two free hands to hold the baby and the drink at the same time.

The gorgeous print on this dress is glorified summer printed on cotton cloth.  For me, the dress evokes visions of me on a Caribbean vacation, with beautiful flowers and fruits surrounding me, as I walk along a bustling market. As far-fetched a vision as that may be, this dress is ideal for making a statement at home and abroad.  The length, the full sleeves, the pockets and the waist tie make for a good-looking yet practical dress. I have paired it with tan wedges and a rattan clutch on this occasion, but I also think it would great with white sneakers for a casual holiday vibe. I wore this dress recently to a royal wedding street party and the many compliments had me feeling a bit royal myself – highly recommend!

I hope you have a fabulous long weekend and thank you for visiting my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Marks and Spencer

Clutch – Michael Kors

Hat – Marks and Spencer

Always a Favourite: An All-Purpose Printed Shirt Dress

Happy Friday everyone! The Friday before a long weekend is always extra special; just like clothes that actually work for multiple purposes.  I have always loved a great shirt dress and have many in my closet.  I find that shirt dresses straddle a middle ground between casual and dressed up better than most dresses and therefore, seem to work in so many situations.

I love the busy crane print on this dress and the easy flowing light fabric is ideal for the coming months. I have styled it here with a striped clutch for contrast and a leather jacket for the wind. I look forward to wearing it with sneakers on the weekend and boots on colder days (hopefully, there will not be any soon).

Have a fabulous long weekend and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress- Ted Baker

Dangling Bracelet – Follie Follie

Clutch – Dune

Jacket – Massimo Dutti

 

 

A Personal Viewpoint: What Really Changes in Your Forties From a Fashion Perspective?

I have been asked this question many times – how has fashion really changed for you in your 40s? I think the natural progression of our lives is akin to a closed flower bud progressing to a flower in full bloom. As we age, our petals slowly unfurl and by the time we reach our forties our lives resemble a multi-layered flower. Many of us have families, children, relationships, aging parents, high-pressure jobs, health issues and other aspects that are part and parcel of a life in full bloom with all its beauty, responsibilities and complications. This natural progression definitely has an impact on our fashion sensibilities. While I agree that age is only a number, my fashion preferences have definitely evolved over the years and hopefully for the better. In my forties, I have found the following to hold true:

1. A higher comfort level/acceptance of natural body shape: By the time you arrive in your forties, you have lived with your body for long enough to know a few things for certain. Genetics is a powerful force and acceptance is a necessary happiness-inducing life skill. We all have a natural body shape and they all have their pros and cons. For me, the key to fashion happiness is to recognize your natural body shape, accept it, and then dress in a way to accentuate your obvious advantages and draw attention away from your perceived disadvantages. For example, I am pear-shaped and my top half is smaller than my bottom half. I rarely struggle with finding tops that fit but it is considerably harder to find a pair of trousers that fit well. I have now accepted that I will never fit into a pencil dress off the shelf – for a pencil dress to fit me well, will always require alterations to be made. I think by the time the forties arrive, you just accept that certain styles will always work, will sometimes work and some will never work. I truly believe that this personal knowledge of what works for you is the holy grail of being well dressed, and the chance of finding it in your forties is significantly higher than ever before.

2. Comfort may not always be a priority but it is definitely a pre-thought rather than an afterthought: My life has definitely included uncomfortable fashion moments where I have chosen to wear items that became more uncomfortable with every passing moment and finally the discomfort has ruined the party mood. The true toll of an uncomfortable fashion decision is often felt the next day with bruised skin and painful feet bearing witness to your folly. In my forties, discomfort, cold and pain are not worth the fashion statement, no matter how glorious. If I am going to be on my feet all day – then no heels for me and if it’s going to be a cold day – I carry an appropriate jacket even if it impedes my style statement. In the course of my fourth decade, I am far more practical in my fashion choices and happier for it.

3. A more adventurous approach to style: Contrary to popular belief, I think many of us become more adventurous in our readiness to try new styles in our forties. I find that I am far more open to experimenting with fashion than ever before. A few good reasons may explain this adventurous streak. a) peer pressure doesn’t carry the weight it may have in earlier years. What will my friends think is no longer relevant – my good friends will be honest and supportive and what I think is most important. b) Your own ability to judge your fashion choices is far more astute – I know when something looks terrible and no amount of desire to be ‘on trend’ will let me step out in it. Therefore, I now make it a point to at least try on shapes and silhouettes that I may not have done in the past and often I am pleasantly surprised with the results.

4. An unapologetic acceptance of your personal style statement: I think we all have personal preferences in terms of the type of fashion we are drawn to – a personal signature fashion style that we are most likely to exhibit without consciously trying something different. I have always been drawn to floral girlie styles or overtly ethnic styles in Indian wear and this constitutes the DNA of my personal style statement. I am no longer apologetic for being drawn to floral numbers when friends say, ‘That looks like something you would wear’. Yes, it is something I would wear because I enjoy wearing it – it’s really that simple.

5. Willingness to pay more for quality: When I was in my twenties, I had a hard time understanding why a cashmere sweater cost four times the amount of another sweater or why a feather down jacket was so much more expensive. I still love a bargain, but now I am willing to pay more for quality because it matters more to me. The good news is that in your forties you may also be in a better financial position than in your twenties (I fully understand this may not always be the case) and have more disposable income to buy better quality. In my forties, I finally understand that certain things cost more because they provide a greater benefit such as increased warmth, and it is my choice to pay more for that extra benefit.

Personally, I am enjoying fashion as a ‘thing’ more in my forties than ever before. We are lucky to live in a world that is far more accepting of the idea of ‘female fashion choice’ than any of the generations before. Forties fashion is just as pleasurable as fashion at other ages because the fundamentals told true at any age – wear what you enjoy and your personal fashion statement is unique and yours to make.

In the lookbook below, I am wearing an A-line dress – I enjoy wearing that shape as it always works well for my pear-shaped body. I love flat boots as the comfort they provide in walking around town is second to none. These beauties are made from a stretch fabric that clings to my leg and doesn’t slide down – making this a ‘winning boot’ as far as I am concerned. I have layered my dress with a wool turtleneck, sleeveless coat and a blanket scarf (I love the juxtapositioning of the polka dots and stripes) to stay warm and avoid a bulky coat, which I am hoping to pack away for many months in the near future.

I hope you enjoy this post (feedback would be welcome) and have a great week ahead. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Stradivarius (currently £12.59)

Sleeveless Coat – Zara 

Boots – Massimo Dutti

Blanket Scarf – Paul Smith (similar)

Necklace – Coach

‘Lounging Around’ Dresses: My Guilty Summer Dress Purchase Pleasure

Are our fashion styling and purchasing decisions influenced by those near and dear to us?  Mine definitely are and I am a better stylist for it.  Many years ago, I met my best friend on the first day of university. We hit it off instantly and soon did everything together, including shopping. Often while shopping we would see dresses that were perfect for casual wear and ‘running around in’.  She would always pick these up to buy and if I countered the purchase by saying, “Don’t you already have a few that look like this?”, her response would be,”Yes but this is perfect for ‘lounging around in’!” “Yes, it would be actually”, I remember thinking and we would both end up buying the aforementioned piece of clothing. As college students, we probably did a fair amount of ‘lounging around’ so the casual wear purchases made sense.

They also became a habit.  As soon as I know summer is approaching, I find myself buying multiple casual summer dresses for ‘lounging around in’ purposes.  I wholly blame my BF for this. As I was telling her last time we met, “BF, considering our lives now run at breakneck speed and there is absolutely no time to ‘lounge around’, why the hell do I buy so many casual dresses?” Furthermore, while I find myself the proud owner of multiple ‘lounging around’ clothes, I never seem to have any clothes to do ‘proper stuff’ in!

Similarly, when I was getting my Master’s, I became friends with a Chinese girl.  She was the first person I had ever met who would put on a ‘neckerchief’ with anything and everything. She always tied it so well and it made a lovely unexpected statement. I have her to thank for showing me how a neckerchief worked and I have enjoyed wearing them ever since.

I have always advocated that observing and experimenting with fashion looks we see around us is one of the best ways to improve our own fashion statement over time. I would love to hear about how your fashion decisions have been influenced by those around you.

When I saw this floaty summer dress in these beautiful stripes – I could not resist buying it.  The spring colors and the drop waist is exactly the kind of dress I am looking forward to wearing once the warmer weather finally arrives.  A printed neckerchief and comfortable brogues are the perfect additions to this outfit along with a staple denim jacket.

I hope you enjoy this lookbook and thank you so much for reading my blog.

 

Clothes and accessories:

Dress (I am wearing an XS as comes up big)  – Uniqlo U

Jacket – Target

Neckerchief – Pucci (similar House of Fraser)

Brogue Shoes – Dune Black (similar Dune)

Crossbody Bag – Karen Millen