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 Boarding School 25th Anniversary Reunion: And a Beautiful Handloom Sari

As a child, I attended the Lawrence School Sanawar in India. The school, founded in 1847,  is considered to be one of the oldest coeducational boarding schools in the world. I recently returned from attending my year’s silver jubilee reunion at the school nestled amongst the hills. I think as we grow up, the memories of childhood diminish in their vividness and the pains and pleasures of childhood are overridden by the trials and  victories of adulthood.  Wow – talk about an instant magic carpet ride (OK British airways helped) back to the literal  ‘child – hood’,  the original ‘hood’, home to my early formative years.

Visiting Sanawar was a piercing reminder of the origins of the journey of ‘me’. It forced me to analyze the then, the now and all the life lived in between.  Around every corner, on random slopes and in beautiful  old buildings, I ran into memories – some good, some bad and some just down right hilarious. It struck me that childhood friendships may be formed by young immature individuals but the foundations of these friendships are embedded in the soundest of principles: the  pleasure of each other’s company, shared experiences and loyalty.  This is what makes childhood friendships so easy to resume regardless of the time that may have elapsed since one last met.  What else did I learn you make you may ask?  I discovered that drinking too many rums and coke is always a bad idea!

Boarding school fosters friendships that by the very essence of boarding together, are unique.  It was so lovely to see class mates (and their respective life mates), rehash old memories and renew old  friendships.  I knew that attending the reunion had been a great idea when a dear old friend and classmate, who I have not seen in multiple years,  said to me,  “one of the things I was most looking forward to was meeting you after all these years”. I second that and look forward to fostering these friendships through the coming decades.

What did I remember about fashion while revisiting my childhood? I  remembered observing the teachers and visiting mothers  at school,  lovely grown up women dressed in their elegant saris and thinking that I could not wait to grow up and wear one. I think my love affair with saris started in school as I have always associated wearing a sari with impending adulthood.

I bought this sari at Delhi Haat many years ago and I can confidently say that I never tire of wearing it.  It was as if the beauty of the handloom, the colours and the design were all singing in unison,  “Isha is going to buy you and give you a loving home in her closet”.  In fact, I remember walking away from it as my bargaining prowess had proved unsuccessful and the vendor and I had been unable to come to a mutually acceptable price.  Then, as I had walked a short distance and the reality of the situation struck me – I had returned and admitted defeat (the shame). The seller had the last laugh but I had a beautiful sari and I found comfort in the fact that my joy would outlive his.

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


Major Love: Of Ethnic Fabrics and Bazubands (Armlets)

I have always been a huge fan of handloom and ethnic fabrics.  I saw this dupatta hanging in the shop window of a random store in Mumbai that I would pass everyday.  It was the kind of inconvenient location where there was not even a pavement to walk on, let alone stop your car and alight! So I would pass the premises, admire the duppatta in the window, and promise myself that one day I would stop close by and walk through that door.  Often when you finally do this, you are disappointed that the item in the window does not really look like what you had conjured up in your imagination.  That did not happen in this case – not only was the dupatta gorgeous in real life but he had them in all kinds of gorgeous colours! I really could have bought them all, but I managed to reign in my hoarding instinct and settled on this beautiful black and white one. I then saw the handloom material for the shirt many months later at Delhi Haat and just knew that they would go well together. I am so glad that I entered that shop and bought this cotton dupatta – I love the design and colours and I always get so many compliments when I wear it!

I have always had a fascination for those ‘rare’ pieces of jewellery that we all know exist, but it’s not that often that you see people wearing them.  These would include pieces like the passa or jhumar (which I know has had a revival recently), and the bazuband. When I saw this bazuband in a shop on the Mall in Darjeeling, I wanted it immediately!  Of course, I talked myself out of it, and wandered around for many hours thinking about it as one does.  By the evening,  my husband was so sick of hearing about it that he marched me back into the shop and insisted I buy it on the spot!   Who was I to argue with hubby and it would have been rude to say no – so I finally relented and agreed to purchase it after a suitable haggling episode with the shopkeeper. Again, it’s been major love for this piece ever since and I always compliment my husband on his astute decision making skills whenever I wear it!