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


Earrings – Toraan 

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My Take: On Injecting an Ethnic Flavour Into Your Home Decor (Part II)

This blog post is long overdue. I published the first instalment of this blog post many months ago  – My Take: On Injecting An Ethnic Flavour Into Your Home Decor (Part 1) and have been meaning to write a follow-up ever since.

I am a huge fan of incorporating an ethnic vibe into my surroundings and I love rooms where ethnic pieces blend seamlessly with modern elements. Below are some tips on how to acquire and incorporate ethnic elements into your home decor that work well for me:

  1. Buy interesting pieces when you travel: We are blessed to live in times where domestic and international travel is easier and more popular than ever before.  I love picking up interesting finds on my travels and I always make that extra effort to visit antique markets, furniture bazaars, art galleries and old furniture sellers if possible (you can imagine the look on the kids faces when I ask if they want to go and look at old furniture). The best part of travelling is that you don’t even have to go looking for treasures – sometimes you just run into them.  The most important lesson I have learned is not to dither about a purchase (a painful mistake I have made many a time). If you like it and it is in your budget; just buy it.  You may never get to go back…I bought this beautiful silver and amber bowl in a random shop in Gangtok, Sikkim, that I walked into just by chance.  Every time I look at it I am reminded of the beauty of Sikkim and looking at Kanchenjunga (the third highest peak in the world) from the hotel garden.  I purchased this stunning hand-painted box in Srinagar and it always reminds me of the beauty of Kashmir and the trip of a lifetime. Finally, I bought the black Chinese inspired mirror in Mumbai – it was in the corner of a shop on SV Road covered in dust. I asked them to paint it black, they thought I was strange but did it any ways.  I think the result is stunning! Last but not least, no trip to Mumbai is complete without buying some old movie posters.
  2. Raid the family home for cherished finds: The black ‘kurmandal’ (kamandal) was lying in a cupboard in my parents home and when I heard the story behind it – I begged my mother to let me have it.  A ‘kurmandal’ is usually an oblong pot used to carry water by yogis and sages.  When my paternal grandfather was a young 10 year in Sialkot, before the partition of India, the family brought a 10-year-old orphan named Sainath into the household as a play mate.  Then, partition happened and the entire family left their home behind and made their way to India and settled in Ludhiana.  The little boy had become a family member of sorts by this time and accompanied them to their new home in India.  He lived in the same house and later in life, one day appeared in orange clothes and announced that every one should call him Sai Baba as he had decided to become a holy man.  He hand carved this kurmandal from a ripe pumpkin and would carry it with him as he visited and blessed people around town.  He continued to live with the family till he died; in the same year as his childhood hood playmate, my grandfather.
  3. Group similar objects: Displaying similar objects together, such as my old ethnic boxes, makes a great decorative statement. In my opinion, this works particularly well for ethic objects as it draws your eyes to the collection. I have grouped many of my old boxes in my open bookcase.
  4. Except and highlight imperfections: Sometimes older objects are far more beautiful than similar brand new items. The level of intricate detail that can be found in an older object may not be cost-effective in today’s world.  I love the knocks and dents found on old pieces as they add character and I always wonder about their individual back story.  I bought the brass box in a dusty shop in Oshiwara market in Mumbai.  50 hours or so of scrubbing (certainly felt like it)  revealed a beautiful box. Similarly, I bought this beautiful lamp in Mumbai from an antique dealer (ok more like an unknown guy I used to call brass man).  I love the details on my brass lamp and I also use it as a candle holder on a daily basis.
  5. Explore local shops with a keen eye: You don’t have to travel far and wide to find beautiful ethnic pieces for your home.  I bought the black pot for my fireplace many years ago at T.K. Maxx for a tenner and it has served me exceptionally well ever since.
  6. Incorporate ethnic fabrics and patterns: Using beautiful ethnic fabrics and prints is the easiest way to give your home decor an ethnic flavour. I absolutely loved this silk Ikat runner the moment I laid eyes on it. I am a huge fan of Ikat and find it one of the most gorgeous dyeing techniques ever invented. I also have a beautiful cushion with the pattern of an old car in my hallway that always puts a smile on my face as it reminds me of the cars in India from my childhood!

I hope you enjoy this post and thank you so much for reading!

Bohemian Beauty: Boho Style Tunic Kurta and Cropped Jeans

You know that summer is almost here when every shop you enter is choked full of ethnic inspired bohemian wear. I love everything about this style of clothing – especially the loose fitting silhouettes and the lovely mix of bright colours. A huge part of the appeal with these clothes is that they offer a versatile base to accessorize against. Boho style clothing allows you to bring out all the jewellery that frankly, just would not work with many other styles. Wearing bohemian clothes offers a great opportunity to bring out those dangly earrings and seashell necklaces bought on holidays where you had convinced yourself that when you came home you were going to dress like a different person! If nothing else, you can drape that solitary dupatta that your aunt’s second cousin brought you as a present and voila – you have added a boho element to your outfit. The other great thing about this style is that there is no real need to match – even the most mismatched ensemble seems to ooze a boho chicness. Adding to the positives, is that it looks good on all age groups and works really well with flats – you just really can’t go wrong!

In this post, I thought I would lookbook my first ethnic inspired boho tunic/kurta purchase of the season. I love the colourful work on the yoke and the big balloon sleeves. The white colour will also be perfect to wear in the Californian heat when I visit my family later in the summer. I am also a big fan of the new style of cropped/frayed jeans on the market, which I think work well in creating a layered boho look.

One question that has always perplexed me is that while so many of these ethnic bohemian garments are made in India, it was next to impossible to find many/most of these styles there.  I would love to hear your views on why this may be the case or perhaps I was just not going to the right shops there!

As always, thank you for reading my blog.

(Clothing and Accessories: Kurta Top – Zara, Jeans – H&M, Sandals – Dolce Vita , Earrings – Forever 21, Handbag – Tano )

My Take: On Injecting An Ethnic Flavour Into Your Home Decor (Part 1)

I have been asked multiple times to write a blog post on how to inject an ethnic flavour, especially Indian, into personal home decor. It is a fabulous idea for a post, however, also a particularly hard one as home decor is a very personal style statement and as such no set rules apply. In the end, we all have individual tastes and decor that may be relaxing to some, may be a nightmare to others. Before I present my take on adding an ethnic flavour, it may be helpful to address a precursor question that I have been asked numerous times – how do you decide how to decorate your house? I like so many styles of decor and end up with a big mishmash of things that don’t work together!

This is a question I can completely relate to as I faced this dilemma for many years. Certain people know from day one what kind of decor appeals to them and I envy their decisiveness.  Other equally talented people can combine a variety of styles, colours and objects and make it all come together in a coherent style statement and I envy their talent.  The rest of us are not so fortunate and require more time and effort to develop a structured understanding of our decorative style preferences.

In my case, many different styles of decor appealed to me and  I am an individual who is easily seduced by beautiful surroundings.  I would visit a home with modern decor and suddenly I was loving the clean lines and contemplating minimalism. Then, I would visit Ikea and four hours and forty meatballs later, I was sold on Scandanavian decor and a red kitchen!  Then one day, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized that  while I liked many kinds of decor, the bottom-line was that I only had one home to decorate. This home was my sanctuary and needed to be decorated in a style that  appealed to me on a daily basis.

So here is what I discovered; admire all kinds of home decor that appeals in some shape or form. Next do your research and due diligence – look at home magazines, study your friends and families homes, go on Pinterest and make boards of home decor styles that you like. Then, study your results and soon enough a pattern will begin to emerge. You will see that while many styles appeal, there is a particular style that you always seem to go back to and put simply, makes you happy every time you see it.  At this point,  it is very possible that you have found your favorite style of home decor and hopefully this will set you off on the right path to choosing how to decorate your house.

Personally, I found that I was constantly drawn to ethnically infused fusion decor  – I loved rooms where ethnic styles seamlessly blended with modern elements. I also discovered that I was drawn to interiors that included flashes of oriental decor with Chinese and Japanese elements.  Last but certainly not least, rooms done up in a modern colonial style always appealed to me. So now,  I stick to buying items that loosely fit into my general decorative style.  For me, a certain level of discipline works best – if  I love something but it is diametrically opposite to my signature style – I will not buy it. I admire it in the shop or on the street, and then leave it there!

Six useful tips that have always helped me in infusing some ethnic flavour into my home decor are as follows:

  1. Incorporate objects into your home decor that you may own, but have never considered as possibly having any decorative value.  These could include objects you might have inherited or received as part of your wedding present collection. When I got married, and it was time for the ‘Doli’ to leave, my mother-in-law draped an intricate woven huge shawl-like cloth on me called a ‘Phulkari Bagh’.  This is a traditional hand embroidered fabric from the Patiala region and often given to brides in Punjabi weddings.  Upon eventual inquiry, it turned out this was husband’s great grandmother’s and was a stunning old piece that had lain in a plastic bag at the back of my closet for years. Then one day, during a moment of inspiration, I decided to have it stretched on a canvas and now it makes for a lovely and humongous tapestry on my wall. A silver tea set is another beautiful piece that was passed down to me at my wedding from my mother, who received it from her mother.  For years it languished in a cupboard, until I pulled it out and gave it pride of place on a side table in my dining room. Now, I get a million compliments on it and it makes me happy every time I look at it.
  2. Incorporate old black and white photographs into your home decor.  Indian weddings (and many other weddings for that matter) are by their nature exotic, often featuring women in saris with garlands and men with turbans and swords.  Add to this horses and elephants, groups of dancers and piles of food and these photographs become unique and decorative pieces of wall art. One of the sets of black and white pictures that I have up on my walls are wedding pictures of my parents and my in-laws.  I highly recommend this as they look lovely and imagine the look on your mother-in-law’s face when she sees her wedding photograph on your wall.  That’s enough brownie points for a very long time!
  3. Buy paintings or other wall art that appeal on many fronts such as a fond memory or representing something important to you. Buy paintings that you think have the power to make you happy every time you pass them on a wall because you love the context or the colours or the style.  Do not buy artwork that does not inspire you or even worse, buy artwork because it matches your sofa.
  4. Buy beautiful objects that may appeal from your travels, regardless of whether they serve their original purpose. I love the bronze men that ‘climb my walls’ that I bought from Chatuchuk market in Bangkok.  I also love the bronze lamp holder and urli that I bought from Kochi, even though I would not light the lamp under my treasured painting!
  5. Beyond the functional purpose of a mirror, they make a great design statement and can help give scale to smaller rooms or hallways.  Buying mirrors with antique frames is a great way of incorporating an ethnic flavour into your home decor.
  6. Buy cushions, rugs and fabrics that have ethnic accents, incorporate ethnic fabrics, or represent ethnic styles of weave.  This is perhaps the easiest way of incorporating a subtle ethnic flavour into your home without turning the whole house into a set from Ram Leela!

I hope that this post in some way proves helpful to my readers.  At the end of the day, I firmly believe that decor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  As always, thank you for reading!