Yellow Sari Love: With a Blue Velvet Blouse and a Grand New Idea

Hello everyone! As I have mentioned many times before, my long held interest in fashion and styling is what gave birth to this blog. Perhaps the aspect that I love most about styling is that the creativity is boundless. There are endless end results to be had, all as unique as the individual who put them together. There are no limitations to the creative side of our brains and i am reminded of this every time I see a person on the street and think, “Wow what a great way to style that outfit – I would have never thought of pairing those items together.”

On this platform, I have always championed that one of the best ways to improve your personal fashion prowess and styling acumen is to observe what others are wearing. For two years now, I have lookbooked styles that I enjoy in my daily life and I have hoped that they have persuaded you to consider new and different styles along the way.

Now, I would love for myself and our other readers to benefit from all of your great styling moments.  I would like to start a section on this blog where we can see pictures of our fellow fashionista readers in outfits that they have styled for themselves.   We can call it the ‘Fabulous Fashionistas Daily Style Lookbook’ or something better. This is how I envisage it working:

  1. Take a picture of yourself in your fabulously styled outfit (all kind of outfits are welcome from casual to formal to ethnic – after all, inspiration comes in many forms)
  2. Please send it to contact@ishasverdict.com with two or so sentences explaining what you particularly liked about how you put the outfit together – the styling quotient (Feel free to include links to where you bought something  – especially if it is still available to buy).
  3. I will post it in the section and we can all draw inspiration and comment on what we liked about the outfit, the styling and other helpful input. It will be a constantly moving section with new pictures added as they are received.
  4. As all the comments will be moderated by me – no negative comments will be welcomed or published. The idea is to generate a positive and helpful forum at all times.
  5. I will not be sharing the pictures with any other entities.

So there you have it – my idea of a creative way for all of us to inspire each other, improve our styling game and look at fabulous clothes!  I truly believe applying a fashion focused lens to everyday life is the best way to become a better dresser and stylist and I hope this forum will help.

On a different note, I am lookbooking a yellow sari (my favourite colour) with a bling midnight blue velvet blouse with net sleeves.  The absolute truth is that I am not a fan of an overtly blingy look and did not particularly care for the blouse when it first came my way.  I was at a loss of what to wear with it till one fine day, I decided that I needed a sari that would let the blouse dominate but in a colour that could match the boldness of the blouse.  I subsequently paired it with this plain silk shaded yellow saree, and even though I am still not sure what to make of the entire outfit, there is no danger of me blending into the background in this number.

I hope you enjoyed this lookbook (as I almost froze into a popsicle trying to take the pictures) and thank you so much for reading.  I would love to get your feedback on the styling forum idea and even better, your lovely pictures.

Mix and Match: Indian Outfit With a Leather Jacket

I find a great thrill in shopping on the proverbial ‘roadside’. It doesn’t matter what country it is or what is being sold – if it’s make-shift stalls on the edge of a road, edge of a beach or even the edge of a cliff, then I am very interested in browsing their wares.  I think it has something to do with the ‘thrill of the chase’. The almost primal response I feel upon seeing things being sold on a curb-side is that they are going to be cheap and nobody else will have the same thing. These factors make for a heady combination  and the only way forward for a shopping enthusiast such as myself is full speed ahead. Of course, the sensible part of my brain knows that this may not be true but this desire to browse curb-side offerings is the literal application of the term ‘curb appeal’.

I bought this kurta top on the side of the road in Bandra, Mumbai.  It was my first year there and a fellow expat friend and I decided to go exploring near Linking road.  As we walked along, we spotted a man on the pavement selling stuff from a big potli (bag) on the floor. His goods looked interesting and as we got closer we realised that he had some rather lovely looking clothes in that mysterious bag of his. He was pulling out various kurtas and we slowly edged closer in order to get a better look. However, our initial politeness swiftly gave way to a more assertive shopping approach and soon we were asking him to pull out kurtas in every shape and size.  A few minutes later, all bets were off as other women crowded around and soon everyone was trying to help themselves while ‘Houdini with the magic bag’ was trying to keep control of his customers by slapping their greedy grabbing hands away. Eventually, the gleeful grappling led to two kurta purchases by me and one by my friend.

Luckily for me, this impulse purchase fit well and I paired it with a black churidar (leggings) I owned. One day when I was tidying my cupboard, I found this beautiful Kantha work dupatta that I had been given as a present many years ago but had nothing to pair with.  Seeing the kurta and dupatta together, I realised it was a match made in heaven and voila! I had myself a complete outfit!

On a separate note, I have often found that pairing outerwear with Indian clothes can present a unique styling challenge.  While it does get brutally cold in many parts of India, much of Indian wear is designed for warm weather and frankly, I prefer a sari without a big puffer coat on top! I am a fan of the ‘long coat on a sari look’  and of course there are lovely shawls available in every colour and size to help with the cold. A few years ago, I decided to expand my Indian clothes outerwear repertoire by experimenting with non-traditional options such as leather jackets.  The result is that I no longer hesitate to pair conventionally western outerwear with Indian clothes. Sometimes, my pairings look great and other times maybe not so good but at least I can say I tried something new.

I hope you enjoy this look and thank you for reading.  Have a great day!

(Clothes and Accessories: leather Jacket – Marks and Spencer, Sandals – Dune)

 

Old is Purple: In a Crepe Silk ‘Phulkari’ Salwar Kameez

I find that my ‘Indian clothes’ do not get the repeat wear they deserve, as compared to the contents of my ‘western wardrobe’.  While a variety of reasons might contribute to this reality, the bottom line is that I own many beautiful Indian clothes that have only been worn a few times.  Therefore, it truly satisfying to pull out an Indian outfit from the closet and know that its repeat wear figure is in the double digits.

I have owned this beautifully vivid ‘Phulkari’ salwar kameez for well over 20 years. I bought the material in Ludhiana, Punjab and had it stitched for a cousins wedding. It was one of the few times that I made up mind almost immediately in a shop, much to the relief of my mother.

The length of time that you have owned an outfit is a definite factor in the repeat wear equation but it is not the only variable. Why is it that I often come back to this suit despite having worn it umpteenth times?  I think it is because everything about this outfit whispers ‘classic’ in the true sense of the word. The cut and design of the salwar kameez is classic Punjabi wear without any bells and whistles. The fabric is pure crepe and feels like butter against the skin.  The ‘phulkari work’ is beautiful and the colours used compliment each other perfectly. All the outfit needs is a pair of juttis and earrings to look and feel fabulous!

When I wear this suit I am reminded of why the top advice of so many fashion gurus is to buy clothes in classic cuts and high quality fabrics in order to ensure a life time of usage.  I have always enjoyed wearing this outfit over the years and I think it still looks great every time I put it on!

I hope you enjoy this ‘lookbook’ and have a great weekend.  As always, thank you for visiting my blog.

(Accessories: Enamel Earrings – Aquamarine)

 

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‘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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Mirror Work ‘Jhola’ Bag: Vacation Finds With Everyday Wear

I thoroughly enjoy traveling and always have.  I also enjoy shopping on my international travels and bringing my precious finds home.  However, I am guilty of not using those finds frequently once I get home, especially jewellery and accessories. This holds particularly true of my many trips to India over the years. I have analyzed this peculiar pattern of inertia and come to the conclusion that I am often waiting for some magical outfit or occasion when these ethnic purchases will rise like the phoenix from the shelf of forgotten treasures and lend themselves to the occasion at hand.

‘Well, no more shall this sorry tale be repeated”,  I decided on my last trip to India. Not the sorry tale of purchasing things that I don’t necessarily need (lets not get crazy now) but the sorry tale of not using my purchases immediately and without delay upon my return.

Now for the back story – during my summer trip to the USA to see my parents, I had seen a beautiful mirror work ‘Jhola Bag’ (an ethnic fabric or leather tote bag) in the ‘Sam Edelman’ shop.  It glowed magically in the window display and literally beckoned to me to enter the shop. It was truly a stunning creation, however, unable to decide whether I needed another bag, I left it in the shop.  Alas, by the time I had come to my senses and returned, they had sold out of the few pieces of the bag they had.

Therefore, when I recently saw this bag in Khan Market in Delhi – I knew I had to make amends for my previous oversight and buy it immediately.  Upon my return, I was determined to use it and not park it in my shelf of forgotten treasures.  I have finally realized that the key to using ethnic accessories frequently is to use them as a part of my everyday outfits and not wait for a special occasion to pull them out (like the ‘Banjara’ theme party that, let’s face it, is never going to happen!).

So I have followed my own advice and I have been using my new bag frequently.  What is lovely about the bag is that is has two completely different mirror work panels on either side and it is roomy enough to hold everything! It adds a delightful ‘punch of colour’ to every outfit which is much needed cheer given the short and dark days of winter.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

(Clothes and Accessories: Mirror Work Bag – Khan Market (New Delhi),  Denim dress – ASOS (Monki), Orange Turtle Neck – Uniqlo, Blue Tunic – French Connection, Sneakers – Moda Pelle)

Diwali 2016: In a Floor Length Floral Indian Gown

My earliest memory (hazy of course) of Diwali is at my maternal grandparents’ home in India. I distinctly remember being in a room, off the main verandah in their house, with all my cousins.  All us girls and boys, of a similar tender age, had devised a game where we were jumping off the main bed onto a smaller bed, which had been placed in front of it. Directly in front of this small bed was a water cooler embedded into the facing wall.  A distinct feature of this water cooler was that it had large handles sticking out of the front to help move the vents in different directions. So there we are – taking turns to jump from one bed to another free-standing bed…before I go any further with this story, a few clarifications may be in order:

1) Where were all the grownups?  I believe they were celebrating Diwali, like many Punjabi families, by playing cards in the main living room. This was before the days when entire generations had fallen prey to perpetual parental guilt and children could be left unsupervised to play among themselves in their own homes.

2) Why were we playing this silly game? – Well, these were also the days before the internet and bored children used their imagination to come up with games that could be potentially dangerous while playing together (yes those were perilous times we lived in!) Luckily,  given a similar situation now, all the children would be glued to their handheld devices, all movement would have seized and hence all physical danger averted.

To continue – as you may have guessed, running and jumping, pushing and shoving, we had worked ourselves up into a frenzied bundle of energy.  Soon enough, one of my cousins jumped onto the smaller bed, the bed moved and he was thrust forward towards the handle jutting out of the cooler.  The handle slashed his head, he was bleeding profusely and in turn, we were bawling loudly.  The adults were duly summoned and pandemonium ensued.  It was Diwali night, doctors were contacted on big red dial phones and he was quickly whisked into a car and taken to hospital.  We were all given a stern talking to and felt terrible about our poor cousin brother’s head.  We waited and eventually the big red dial phone rang again and thank the Gods, he was going to be OK.  He had required stitches but he was doing well and they would all be home soon.  The hospital party returned, dinner was served and soon the shock dissipated into the mountain of delicious food set before us.  Everyone ate, made merry and the children were finally put to bed so that serious ‘teen pati’ could be resumed.

Is this meant to be a Halloween story or a Diwali one?  No, I do not have my stories mixed up and there is a Diwali message here.  The point of this story is that despite the mishap, I have the fondest memories of  that childhood Diwali imprinted in my mind. It is that kind of Diwali I wish for all of us –  a Diwali filled with love and loved ones, heaps of laughter, lots of fun and a little bit of chaos. I hope that you create Diwali memories that remain with you long after 2016 has passed and enrich your life in the way only truly happy moments can.

During my recent trip to Delhi, I had a chance to go to Shapur Jat , an area I have heard much about but not had the chance to visit before.  I loved the various shops that dot the area and it is a great shopping destination for a determined shopper. I found this beautiful floral floor-length outfit at a shop called Kalista. The show-stopping print and elegant cut were right up my alley and I decided to add it to my collection as I did not own anything quite like it.

I hope you like this outfit as much as I do and thank you very much for reading my blog.  Here’s wishing you and your families a fabulous Diwali!

(Clothes and Accessories: Outfit – Kalista (https://www.facebook.com/kalistafashions/) , Bracelet and Rings – Isharya, Earrings – Fab India, Sandals – Dune)

 

 

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Diwali Celebrations: In A Yellow And Pink Kurta And Cream and Gold Skirt

It is autumn, there is a chill in the air and it is Diwali time!  Beyond its religious and cultural significance, a festival that encourages you to buy new clothes and eat mitai (Indian sweets) as part of the celebrations is ‘tops in my book’.  On a more serious note, I am sure every generation feels this way but I think at the present time, given the state of the world, the message of the triumph of knowledge over ignorance and good over evil is perhaps more pertinent than ever before!

I  first encountered ‘The Silk Tree’ at an exhibition in Mumbai while I was living there and fell in love with their range of beautiful kurtas.  Back then, I purchased a gorgeous white kurta with pin-tucks and raised flowers which I had featured in an earlier blog post – https://ishasverdict.com/2016/02/05/minor-obsessions-lovely-white-kurtas/ . Recently, when I was in India for my old school reunion I had a single free day in Delhi.  It did not take me long to decide how to spend my day  – I decided to go shopping! I contacted ‘The Silk Tree’ and Darshan Dhupia, the lovely designer behind the brand, informed me that they happened to be having an exhibition on that day and I was welcome to drop by.  Now this was as strong a sign as any that the universe wanted me to go and shop, so off I went very happily to view her latest collection.

This beautiful kurta had me at the colour! I know I have professed my love for the colour yellow before and combined with gorgeous gota work – it literally made me weak in the knees (sticky toffee pudding also has a similar effect). There were so many beautiful kurta’s on display but I kept coming back to this one and could not decide whether to pair it with trousers or this cream and gold paneled skirt.  As it was approaching Diwali time  – it seemed only right that I should buy some clothes and so I decided to purchase this outfit and a few more items (which I will lookbook in the near future).  I could not decide if if the outfit needed a dupatta, but Darshan suggested that this pink one would add a pop of colour and then kindly gifted the dupatta to me.

I must say that I have a bias for traditional Indian handiwork and I loved the striking colours,  intricate designs and the beautiful handloom fabrics that the ‘The Silk Tree’ has brought together this season. Each piece had a distinct look but the brand has captured the ‘mix and match’ idea exceptionally well , giving customers the versatility of allowing many pieces in their collection to be paired with each other with great ease.  They are happy to make their pieces in different colours and sizes depending on the customers needs.

Diwali is a great time for maximizing my ethnic look, so I have paired my outfit with big Indian earrings, a beautiful bracelet and an ethnic fabric clutch. I hope you have enjoyed this Diwali ‘lookbook’ and made some lovely Diwali purchases as well. You can follow my blog by hitting the ‘follow’ button on the page and follow me on Instagram by clicking on the Instagram icon in the main side bar.  Thank you for visiting and have a great Diwali week!

(Clothes and Accessories: Outfit – The Silk Tree (Contact: darshan@thesilktree.in, Instagram: @the_silk_tree), Earrings and Bracelet – Aquamarine)

 

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A Salute To The Sun: Bright Yellow And Pink Sari

It is only natural during the last few days of summer holidays to think about all the lovely things you have enjoyed in the past few weeks of vacation. Other than the obvious pleasures of good food, entertainment and time well spent with family, the thing I have enjoyed the most in California are the endless days of sunshine. The sun has been wonderful, however, I am now looking forward to the seasonal change in weather I will experience once I get back to England.

This is the last sari I bought in Mumbai before moving back to the UK.  My love of yellow is no secret and the beautiful combination of yellow and pink in this sari instantly called to me. I think this combination of bright colours symbolizes the vibrancy of hues that can only be witnessed in India! I feel instantly cheerful when I wear this sari. I love the two halves of this sari and the middle cream net portion works perfectly with the yellow and pink to keep the colour palette proportionally balanced.

I hope you enjoy this look and have a great rest of the week.  As always, thank you for reading!

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Indian Summer: Mango Yellow and White Outfit

In my last post, I had discussed how with age I had discovered a new found appreciation for the colour red. I further commented on how this had made me ponder the constantly evolving aspect of personal fashion likes and dislikes.  However, in that same vein of thought, certain aspects of fashion appeal to us from as far back as we can remember. Even when I was a very young lady (a teenager probably) and the seeds of fashion consciousness had just started sprouting in my brain, I remember loving the colour yellow.  My appreciation of yellow has held steadfast through the years and it is still my favorite colour.  I have always been drawn to a yellow and white combination and this is probably one of many outfits I own in those hues.  I am sure you also find that there are certain combinations you always seem drawn to over all others.

This outfit is poster perfect of a great summer Indian ensemble for me.  The white organdy material with the intricate yellow appliqué work is a great example of workmanship and the dupatta has similar panels to tie the outfit together.  The small silver border detail is a great finishing touch.  I was a bit dubious about the bright yellow palazzo pants when I first saw them – but once I put them on it was immediate acceptance.  I have added small jumkis from Fab India and my silver gungroo bangles to enhance the outfit without overpowering its simplistic elegance.  Last but not least, any outfit that I can wear juttis with is a winner in my book!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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Valentines Day Fashion: Desi Style

Valentines Day is fast approaching and I am going to take this opportunity to profess my love for all fashion, and especially Indian fashion. I deliberately wanted to wear something colourful and opulent for my lookbook today to demonstrate what I love about Indian wear. Indian clothes are a joyous celebration of colour, texture and workmanship that is truly magnificent. What I adore about Indian clothes is that sometimes less is more, but equally sometimes more is more! You can combine all the fabrics and hues you can find and invariably they can all work together. On a different note, I am loving the lehenga sari! There is no replacement for the original sari in my book and therefore, I was a bit hesitant the first time I tried it.  However, I was seriously impressed with the ease of wear and that really makes it a fantastic style of sari to add to your wardrobe.  Have a fabulous Valentines Day with your loved ones! Thanks for reading.