‘Rescue Mission Series’: How I Transformed an Old Saree into a ‘Designer Saree’ for £15

The ‘Rescue Mission Series’ is one of my favourite series on the blog and one that is underpinned by a concept I firmly believe in and promote constantly; reimagine, restyle and reuse. This is a series where I update old Indian clothes in my wardrobe and give them a new lease on life, in keeping with current trends.

The inspiration for this ‘rescue mission’ started when I saw a Bollywood celebrity on the internet wearing a beautiful floral printed saree edged with matching feathers on the pallu. I liked the concept of the design and how the florals and feathers worked together in unison to create a chic style statement. When I dissected the makeup of the saree, I realized it was a simple combination of a pretty floral saree and a feather trimming on the pallu. Subsequently, I decided to try creating this with a floral saree already in my wardrobe.

This chiffon saree with a gorgeous blue floral pattern belongs to my mother and is at least 35 years old.  It was gifted to her by an aunt for the birth of her nephew (I love the Indian tradition of gifting clothes when a child is born – it cements a happy memory in your head forever). I decided that I would look for a feather trim in that virtual shop on the internet that probably sells everything one can ever dream of – Amazon.  As expected, the ‘shop of all things ever’ did not disappoint; I found this ostrich feather fringe trim (fake of course) for £7.69 per meter in a dazzling amount of shades. Not knowing which shade would work – I ordered two different shades of blue and decided I would combine them to get a better overall colour balance.  The total price for my trim was £15.38 (OK I fibbed a little – the total was a bit more than £15).

The one-meter trim was not enough to go end-to-end on the pallu so one side got a bit more of each blue and the middle has both colours combined – you can hardly tell.  I have to say that I loved the result and the vivid blues gave the saree an instant update and provided me with an ‘on-trend feather saree’ that was very close to the one I saw the celebrity wearing.  I took it on holiday recently to show my mother and I think she was really pleased with my ‘rescue mission’ on her lovely chiffon saree.  I even altered her blouse as I did not have one that would have work with the finished product.

The beautiful blue set I am wearing is by Heritage  Jewellery by Ridhi and it could not have matched the saree more perfectly.  The jewellery worked wonders in helping me achieve the sophisticated look I was after.

I hope you enjoyed my endeavour to create a ‘designer look’ with an old chiffon saree and some new fake feather fringe trimming. As always, thank you for reading my blog and supporting my creativity. If you enjoy my fashion and interior posts then please follow Isha’s Verdict on Instagram @ishasverdict.  Have a great week ahead!

Accessories:

Jewellery – Heritage Jewellery by Ridhi (tel:07734 806481), @heritagejewellerybyridhi 

Feather Border –  Amazon (Ostrich Feather Trimming fringe for Millinery in Midnight Blue and Peacock Blue, Sold by: Amaharryzon

Handloom Sarees: What Makes a Great Indian Outfit – Money or Styling?

Hello everyone – I hope you have all had a great weekend full of fun, frolic and fashion.

Fashion discussion of the past week:

A few days ago, my mother and I were having the following conversation. At some level, have we accepted that Indian clothes cost more than western clothes and find ourselves more willing to spend a sum total on an Indian outfit that we would never find ourselves spending on a dress, even a ‘going-out’ dress?  We both agreed that we have often heard the sentiment expressed that good Indian looks cost a fortune! Furthermore, it is ironic that we are willing to spend much more on an Indian outfit that may only get a small fraction of the wear that a western one would get and therefore, works out to be an even more expensive proposition with limited repeat wear options.

I am not quite sure where I stand on this issue.  Yes, I think Indian clothes can be expensive and I have to put my hands up and say that I am not sure how willing I would be to spend the kind of money on a dress (the first time I saw it) that I have spent on an Indian outfit.  On the other hand, we have to take into account that often Indian wear is reserved for special occasions where the presence of abundant family and friends makes us want to look our very best and therefore, we are willing to open our pockets that little bit more. Transport and logistics of getting that outfit to us must add to the cost  – a fact that cannot be ignored.

The one thing that I am sure about is that a good-looking Indian outfit does not have to cost a fortune.  I believe that the ‘styling quotient’ has the same effect on an Indian look that it has on a western look.  The skill of how items are put things together and the desire to experiment and push your personal fashion styling boundaries can produce a great look, regardless of the kind of clothes we are wearing.

As you may have noticed, I am a great lover of mixing and matching clothes that are already in our wardrobes and I have always championed this practice on the blog.  Here, I am wearing a gorgeous yellow (my favourite colour) handloom saree with a ready-made brocade blouse.  I bought this sari for less than Rs 5000 (approximately £54) at Delhi Haat in New Delhi and my friend N in Mumbai (who has fabulous taste) brought me this blouse from a little ready-made blouse in Mumbai that we would both frequent when I lived there. The blouse cost Rs 2000 (£22) and fitted like a glove as I gave my friend my ready-made blouse size (ladies you must always know your ready-made blouse size!). Even though the two items are not exactly colour matched, I loved the way they looked together once I put them on.  I think there is a synergy to the look, where the total looks better than the sum of the individual parts. I love handloom sarees and I am a great fan of the deliberate mismatch here as I think it draws attention to the beautiful individual components of the outfit and demonstrates some styling chops.

I love the necklace and earrings I am wearing from Toraan  – the pale green stones add a rich opulence to the look and pick up on the greens in the blouse perfectly.  Finally, a big bindi – bigger than my normal go-to size but loving the look all the same.

I hope you enjoyed this lookbook and I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes a great Indian outfit. As always, thank you for taking the time to visit Isha’s Verdict.

Jewellery:

Set – Toraan

 

Designer Lookbook: VIVA-LUXE for Brown Girl Magazine

I recently had the pleasure of working with VIVA-LUXE, an on-line Asian Designer-Wear clothing brand, for a sponsored article in Brown Girl Magazine. I spoke with the Co-Founder oF VIVA-LUXE Mr. Jay Chawla, about their vision, their offerings and what makes them stand out from the crowd. Please read the full Brown Girl Magazine article below for what he had to say:

Shopping South Asian Wear Just Got a Whole Lot Easier With UK’s Fashion Brand Viva-Luxe

South-Asian fashion holds a very special place in my heart and in my wardrobe. I am a desi fashion blogger who loves wearing Indian clothes so much that I devote an entire section of this blog to look booking ethnic fashion on a regular basis. As a woman of Indian origin, a fashion lover and an online shopping enthusiast, I am constantly on the hunt for online sources of curated South-Asian fashion.

So, as a woman who enjoys the latest trends and designs in South-Asian clothes, what am I looking for when I go online to purchase? I want to browse the latest designs by a variety of talented designers, I want to see quality fabrics and trimmings, I want to be able to have them delivered to my home hassle-free and I want to be able to buy them without breaking the bank.  In addition, I want them made-to-measure so that fit is not an issue and last but not least, in the event that there is a problem, I want to be able to talk to someone about it.  In a nutshell, I want variety, quality, accessibility, affordability topped off with excellent customer service.

Now, I admit that this is a big ask but I think it’s exactly what the South Asian online fashion market is crying out for.  VIVA-LUXE is an e-commerce platform for outstanding South-Asian fashion that ticks all the boxes!

Below are some photographs that were taken with me wearing outfits from various designers carried by VIVA-LUXE.  I hope you enjoy the lookbook and thank you so much for visiting Isha’s Verdict.

These pictures were taken by my photographer – Camera & I – website www.cameraandi.com and instagram @camera.and.i

Websites:

www.vivaluxe.com

www.browngirlmagazine.com

www.cameraandi.com

Beautiful Jewellery and Vibrant Sarees: In Collaboration With Soignné (Part 1)

I am a great admirer of Indian inspired jewellery and nothing captures my attention quite like a beautiful saree and blouse combination.  I remember spotting a vibrant floral saree blouse on my Instagram feed one day and taking the time to stop, admire and comment on it.  The next day I saw another stunning dhaka cotton blouse on the Soignné feed and I have been following Niru Keshwala’s elegant collection ever since.

Niru set out to create feminine clothes that could be worn to any occasion and would stand out without falling into the over-dressed or under-dressed category.  This is a concept close to my heart and one I can identify wth completely.  Soignné stocks ‘effortlessly elegant’ clothes that are uber feminine, easy to wear and timeless in their appeal. Her designs are unique and completely hand crafted  – every bead is stitched by one of the finest karigars in Nepal.

I found the quality of the blouses to be fantastic – well made, lined properly and they fit me like a glove. Her sarees and blouses allow for a variety of mix and match fashion; another concept that I am a great advocate of in all clothes. Her jewellery range is gorgeous, comprehensive and perfectly in-line with modern Indian fashion.

In this post, I am lookbooking a gorgeous floral blouse and saree in,  you guessed it, my favourite colour yellow.  I hope you enjoy this look and I look forward to presenting the next Soignné look in the coming week.  Have a great weekend and thank you for visiting Isha’s verdict. I would also like to thank Soignné for collaborating on this post.

All clothes and jewellery are from Soignné  – you can shop the range at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SoignnebyNiruKeshwala/

Instagram: @soignne

Email: soignne@yahoo.com

 

 

 

‘Rescue Mission Series’: Floral Sari With a Crop Top Blouse

Over 16 years ago, I remember going to ‘Redondo Beach’ Swap Meet (like a flea market) in California because my mother and I happened to be in the area and decided to pop in as one does.  I remember wandering around and then stopping at a stand that seemed to have some interesting fabrics. At the back of one of the stall owner’s many rolls of fabric, was this stunning pure silk crepe yellow fabric with beautiful flowers that felt like butter in my hands.  I asked my mother what I could do with it and she suggested that it would look great as a sari.  I asked the man how much material he had and it must have been my lucky day because he had just enough for one sari.  I bought it on the spot!

Originally, this sari had a matching yellow blouse.  Like many women, I have been a variety of sizes through various phases of life and the blouse unfortunately, did not survive the many changes that I inflicted on it in the way of alterations. As a result,  I have this lovely sari with no blouse and I did not want to go to the effort to get another blouse made for it.

Given the abundance of beautiful crop tops that are currently on the market, I thought a contrasting crop top was the way forward . As the saying goes, ‘Somebody’s crop top is somebody else’s sari blouse’ – ok perhaps there is no such saying currently but there is always a first for everything.  I thought I would experiment with this green crop top as I especially like the full sleeves on it.  I loved the way it looked together and it was a great solution to my missing blouse problem .  This is a simple crop top, however there are some beautiful crop tops in the shops that I think would make great sari blouses.

Of course, a custom-made blouse for a sari is a match made in heaven and that is hard to beat. However, if you have a sari lying around that needs a new blouse or you just want to try something different with a sari in your closet, then a crop top from the hight street may just be the answer.

I hope you have enjoyed this lookbook and as always, thank you so much for visiting my blog.

(Clothes and Accessories: Blouse – TopShop , Bracelet – Ishariya, Earrings – H&M)

 

Below are some crop tops that I think would make fabulous sari blouses.

Mango Crop Top
Zara Crop Top
TopShop Crop Top

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Fashion: Colourful Blouse With a Cream and Gold Skirt

Happy Saturday my dear readers! The warm weather is propelling us towards those most glorious of social celebrations – summer weddings! Living in the UK, Indian summer weddings when the weather is warm, the countryside resplendent and all the young ones are off school, are always such great fun. Unfortunately, I must admit that I am currently not invited to any summer weddings; however, I do have the necessary wardrobe incase the status quo was to suddenly change!

Today, I am lookbooking an outfit that I would love to wear to an Indian summer wedding.  I have lookbooked this lehenga before in an earlier post (Diwali Celebrations: In A Yellow And Pink Kurta And Cream and Gold Skirt) with a different kurta. This time I have paired my versatile cream and gold lehenga with a colourful embroidered blouse and two different dupattas. What I love about this blouse/koti is that is works equally well as a choli, sari blouse or as a small vest worn on top of a kurta.

I love the idea of ‘mix and match’ Indian fashion that allows us to get the maximum wear out of our Indian clothes.  This outfit is easy to wear, easy to move around in and easy on the eye; all of which would work fabulously well for that Indian summer wedding that I have not been invited to!

I hope you like this outfit and have a fabulous weekend. Thank you for visiting my blog and please tell a friend to visit if you think they would enjoy it as well.

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

Easy, Breezy: In a Patterned and Striped Kurta Top

A few weeks ago, a friend came over and after a while when we contemplated eating lunch, I realized I had nothing substantial in the fridge to offer.  “No worries”, said my friend, “I will make a sandwich with this tub of hummus and cheese”. She proceeded to make both of us sandwiches with crusty bread, hummus, cheese and hot Sriracha sauce.  I am so glad that she made the sandwich (my hostess skills left much to be desired at this point) simply because I loved the way it tasted! Now I can’t stop eating that sandwich and I would be happy to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it is a pity that my husband is not as enamoured by it as I am).  It would seem that my tastebuds are having a torrid relationship with these ingredients but I have been here before and the love affair usually ends as quickly as it starts. One morning soon, I am going to wake up and want a pastry for breakfast and the Sainsbury’s hummus suppliers are going to see a dip in their profits!

I have had similarly intense love affairs with certain clothes – I find myself wearing them all the time and then one day I put them away and don’t want to see them again for a while. However, when I rediscover them, that love returns in droves as I marvel at my good fortune for buying that particular item of clothing. That is exactly what has happened with this kurta top!

I loved the bright stripes on this kurta and wore it all the time when I first purchased it.  Then, I was bedazzled by others that came after and unfortunately it was cast aside for a while.  Recently, when I pulled it out from the box under my bed (I desperately need one of those glamorous walk in closets I see in all the home magazines) I fell in love with its beautiful embroidery and vibrant pattern all over again. It is such an easy breezy kurta top to wear and despite wearing it so often, I always feel feminine and pretty when I wear it.  In my opinion, that is the hallmark of a successful purchase!

Have a great weekend and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.

(Clothes and accessories: Kurta top – Ahilaya, Jeans – Zara, Clutch – Topshop, Ring – Isharya)

Weekend Vibes: In a Red Tie-Dye Kurta and White Palazzo Pants

Happy Saturday my dear readers! The anticipation of spring and warmer weather has me giddy with joy.  I am expressing my elation by pulling out the more casual Indian outfits that can be worn on a weekend to a casual ‘get together’ or just because they look so pretty and feminine.

I saw this beautifully bright red silk material in a shop in Mumbai and thought it would make a lovely kurta.  I had it stitched with silver piping in the traditionally men’s style of kurta making with the patch under the arm.  It is striking, comfortable and easy to wear; it turned out exactly as I had hoped.  I have paired it with lovely over the ear cuff earrings I found in Delhi.  The vendor went to great lengths to explain to me that the ‘fashionable’ thing to do was to wear only one.  I think he was a bit disappointed with my fashion acumen when I insisted on buying two.  Finally, my wool poncho does a great job of warding off the nip in the air while adding a relaxed and destructured layered effect to the overall outfit.

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

Designer Lookbook: Indian Wear With Jewellery From Kyles Collection

I first had the pleasure of being introduced to Kyles Collection and meeting Rav Dadi at the Asian Bridal Show last year. As I meandered around their booth and admired the jewellery on display, I got the opportunity to speak with Rav. When I explained that I was a general ‘jewellery enthusiast’, he was happy to tell me about their offerings as well as invite me to visit their workshop to see the jewellery being made.

Recently, I took up Rav’s kind offer to visit their showroom and workshop in Forest Gate, London. Visiting the workshop was a unique experience and gave me a real glimpse into the intricacies of making jewellery from scratch. Kyles Collection offers a large variety of fusion jewellery including their signature bridal collections as well as ranges suitable for brides on a budget. They also sell ranges that are perfect for parties and other events.

I am impressed by Kyles ability to cater to the individual needs of their customers and offer a truly bespoke service. They are a great example of what true customization of a product entails. Kyles offer Swarovski crystal combinations in over 80 colours and they are happy to craft their jewellery pieces with the crystal colours that compliment your outfit perfectly. Add to this the 7 plating finishes they offer (all nickel free for sensitive skin) and frankly I am not sure that it gets better than this! This is especially true for Asian brides who may have multiple bridal outfits, with multiple jewellery pieces, to contend with. Kyles encourages brides and their families to make an appointment and bring their bridal outfits into their bridal lounge at their showroom. In this way, they can provide an individualized service to help brides determine the exact jewellery pieces that will work for them, within the confines of their personal taste and budget.

A key factor that is instrumental in Kyles being able to offer this level of customization, is the fact that all their products are made in their London workshop. This has a tremendous impact on them being able to deliver your customized jewellery on time, exactly when and where you need it. Rav told me some hair-raising stories of helping frazzled brides with their jewellery when their original providers had let them down days before the wedding!

What I admire about Kyles is that the passion for their craft is clearly visible in your interaction with them. If you can dream it and articulate your vision; they will try their best to turn your vision into reality. They enjoy what they do, cherish their customers and have a genuine desire to help – that is exactly what I am looking for as a customer!

In this post, I have ‘lookbooked’ two of my favourite Indian outfits with pieces of jewellery from Kyles collection. I adore this pale green and blue suit as it brings together the unusual combination of Lucknow chickankari work with a bandhini dupatta. The pale green beads of the Kyles passa, earrings and hand piece match my outfit perfectly. I can imagine wearing this outfit to one of those ‘minor’ morning wedding functions that are invariably a part of so many Asian weddings. I bought this sari in Delhi on a trip and I absolutely love the bright pink and clean cut crystal work on the sari. One of my special tailors in Mumbai made this lace blouse and I have to admit that it might be one of the best fitting blouses I have ever owned. Unfortunately, he told me that he was going home to his village for a few weeks and then completely disappeared – hope it wasn’t me! Kyles statement crystal chandelier earrings and bracelet are exactly what this sari needs to make a bold style statement.

A big thank to you for visiting my blog and a big thank you to Kyles Collection for collaborating on this post with me!

www.kylescollection.com

Telephone Number:+44 (0) 208 586 0204

 

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)