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

 

Fashion Forward: Dresses to Wear When the ‘Beast Of The East’ Leaves

As I look out of my window at the snow-covered streets of London, two thoughts come to mind.  The first is that the snow is beautiful and I am so happy the children get to experience snow play such as building snow men/women and snow ball fights.  My second thought is a polar opposite frustrated rant!  I can’t wait for this snow to disappear so that I can go back to pining for spring and walk around without looking like I am doing the moonwalk.

Weather reports tell us that by next week, the cold snap will be gone and we will return to normal weather patterns for this time of year. Today’s lookbook is a nod to the kind of outfits that I love wearing around this time of year.  Relaxed shaped dresses with long sleeves are perfect for gradually getting back in into the mind frame of wearing dresses again, after a long winter.  Their cut is also perfect for wearing fine and chunky knits underneath, thick tights below and coats above, as the weather still has a sharp cold bite that requires warm clothing.

I hope that you are enjoying the ‘beast of the east’s’ snow offerings and are making the most of it. On a side note, lots of the pieces I am wearing here are from Massimo Dutti. I am a big fan of their clothes and style aesthetic (their leather jackets are beautifully constructed like the green beauty I am wearing).  Their ‘mid season sale’ started yesterday so check out their website if you are planning on some retail therapy today.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – And Other stories, similar – Stradivarius

Boots – Massimo Dutti

Handbag – Longchamp

Leather Jacket – Massimo Dutti, similar Massimo Dutti

Glasses- Tiffany

Cold Weather Eclectic: Tweed, Pinstripes, Animal Print and Oxfords

Happy Tuesday everyone! It is officially Autumn and it is time to start enjoying colder weather styling.  There are so many styles, fabrics and prints that come into their own this season and there is nothing more satisfying than wearing them all together.  I like to call this mix ‘cold weather eclectic’ and I am a dedicated fan!

Tweed check coats are ‘the coat trend’ this season and I have already seen more of them that I like then I can count on both hands.  This beautiful grey based tweed is a supermarket buy and Tu at Sainsburys have produced a winner once again. A pair of blue pinstripe trousers will last you all winter and at £12.99 –  these will not break the bank either.  I love the asymmetric frill hemline of this animal print blouse from Matalan and I can see myself wearing it often in the months to come.  I have paired this outfit with my beautiful oxblood oxfords that are achingly stylish and embody my style perfectly. A little crossbody purse and pearl earrings complete this eclectic look and I love how they all look together while being uber comfortable and easy to wear.

I hope you enjoy this look book and have a great week ahead.  As always, thank you so much for visiting my blog.  A big shout out to my photographer @camera.and.i  – I love the fall pictures in St. James Park.

Clothes and accessories:

Coat – Tu Clothing Sainsbury’s

Pinstripe trousers – H&M

Animal Print Blouse – Matalan

Shoes – Massimo Dutti (Similar) 

Bag – Modalu 

 

Deconstructing ‘Effortless Style’: In a Leather Jacket and a Two-way Scarf

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me the following question: If I was to ask you how I could dress better, but you could only reply in a single sentence, what would you say? After some thought I replied,”For anyone to dress better they need to put some thought into it”. Personally, I have only ever met a handful of people who can just throw on anything they pull out of their closet and walk away looking like a million bucks. Dressing well may be an innate talent in a select few but for most well dressed people it is a talent they have worked hard to cultivate.

Most of the people I know who are consistently well dressed are individuals who put thought into  their wardrobes. They read, explore and experiment with fashion and over time they learn what works best for their bodies and personalities.  In my opinion, budgets and sizes don’t really play a big part in it – some of the best dressed people I knew at university were starving students in all shapes and sizes.  However, they all had one thing in common – they were not dismissive of fashion but rather used it as a tool to express themselves.

I have great admiration for people who look stylish and well put together even when they are dressed casually.  However, I find that ‘effortless style’ is rarely effortless! In fact, looking good in casual clothing often requires greater styling acumen than dressing up for a black-tie affair.

Fashion is not the most important or immediate concern for most of us but being well presented has many benefits. The following would be my list of ‘How to Dress better 101’ for my friend:

  1. We have heard it a million times before but do plan what you are going to wear the night before;

  2. If you love a look in a shop window – do not hesitate to buy it ‘as it is in the window’. Someone is paying the window stylist to put that outfit together so you may as well take advantage of it;

  3. Try putting clothes/colours together that you normally just wouldn’t pair together. This skill becomes better with practice – just like doing quadratic equations;

  4. If you have little interest in fashion and/or no time to think about your wardrobe but would still like to look good – hire a personal stylist. Pay someone for the knowledge that you do not possess and have no time to cultivate – just like hiring a plumber. You might not agree with everything they say but you may be pleasantly surprised at some of their suggestions;

  5. If you do not want to get advice from magazines, or shop windows or stylists then try to buy neutral staples and match them together – like a nice black jumper and basic black boots. It is not advisable to just throw clothes on that lack any sense of cohesiveness as an outfit. Dressing quirky is an art and not an exercise in wardrobe blindness.

This is a casual outfit that I have put together using the sneakers as a base and built on the styling from there. I love the bright blue of the jeans which are a recent purchase. I really enjoy wearing this two-way scarf and I have paired it with a light camel-coloured leather jacket that is harder to pull off in the colder months. Cross-body bags are an absolute favourite of mine as I find them extremely practical for everyday use and the light-weight nylon construction of this bag makes it perfect for being out and about. I hope you enjoy this look and thank you so much for reading!

(Clothes and Accessories: White top – Topshop,  Bright Blue Jeans – River Island, Khaki Blanket Scarf – Uniqlo, Leather Jacket – Massimo Dutti, Sneakers – Aquatalia, Le Pliage Neo Bag – Longchamp)

 

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The Allure Of Oxford: In Yellow Jeans

I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all the colleges I mean like an opera.
William Butler Yeats

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of making a family day trip to Oxford to meet old friends. Perhaps the greatest benefit of having had the privilege of living in various countries is the deep friendships that one develops and while friends may move on to different destinations, modern travel affords everyone the opportunity to catch up with friends from all over the world!

I have been to Oxford many years ago but it was a fleeting drive through visit. I remember thinking then that I was being driven through an English literature-inspired theatrical landscape that was almost dream-like in its lucid beauty. This time was different, we parked up and explored the university town on foot with our friends.

A lovely lunch at a nondescript cafe was followed by a decision to visit one of Oxford University’s 38 constituent colleges. We chose the largest, one of the finest and most prestigious – Christ Church College. Christ Church College has educated 13 British prime ministers in the last 200 years, and is the second wealthiest Oxford college by terms of financial endowment (£436 million as of 2015).  It is also home to ‘The Hall’, which is the dining hall of Christ Church, completed in 1520, and in constant use since the 16th century. For avid Harry Potter fans, this is the great dining hall that served as the inspiration for the set of the Hogwarts dining hall. Actual scenes from the Harry Potter movies were shot here as well.

Christ Church College was so awe-inspiring that any attempt on my part to describe its grandeur would fall short of reality. We had a great time with our friends taking the self guided tour which included the ‘Tom Quad’ and the fabulous Cathedral. The rich history that encompasses you at every step is truly humbling and uplifting at the same time!

The visit to Oxford made me:

* Weep for joy at the beauty of the architecture – yes
* Wish I was young again and could go to University here – yes
* Bring out the ‘ambitious parent’ in me and lecture my children about the importance of working hard at school – hell yes!

Having made the decision in the morning that comfort was key, I decided to wear my bright yellow jeans in order to invoke the sun Gods to come out and shine bright. I think the luminous yellow jeans did the trick because we were blessed with mostly bright and sunny weather. A long scarf to ward off the wind and flat espadrilles worked perfectly in keeping me warm and comfortable through out the day.

Oxford really is a ‘must visit’ for those who have not yet been there. One can easily make a long weekend of the visit and there is more than enough to do, see and eat for the entire duration of your trip. It is not often that one would hear me say this (almost sacrilege really); if you are a visitor and only have one day – forget the ‘street’ in ‘Oxford Street’ and go to Oxford instead!

Thank you for joining us ‘P family’ – it was lovely seeing you all again. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog as always – it is much appreciated!

(Clothes and Accessories: Shirt – Vila, Jeans  – Zara, Scarf – Massimo Dutti, Espadrille Shoes – Tory Burch, Handbag – Dooney and Bourke)

Wide Leg Culottes: With A Silk Blouse And Wedge Heels

Culottes have always been a ‘contentious issue’ in my family. I remember when I was in my early twenties and living at home after university, culottes were the ‘in thing’ to be wearing that summer. One day, I came out of my room in my new prized denim culottes and I distinctly remember my parents (both fashion forward individuals) greeting me with the uninspired, ‘Bachhe, when are the floods coming?”. They never could get their heads around my ‘culotte obsession’ but being the determined woman that I am, I insisted on wearing them all summer long!

Speaking of family, my husband has not ventured an opinion on them thus far, so I have naturally assumed that means he must think they are fab! My children, high on youth and life, don’t take any notice of what I am wearing and have no opinion on my wardrobe choices whatsoever. I, on the other hand, have always loved culottes and hope to wear them all through the summer and well into winter with boots.

I love these wide leg navy culottes from Marks and Spencer and think they are so versatile in terms of what you can pair them with. I adore these high heeled patterned wedges as they combine comfort and style into one beautiful shoe! I have used this Ferragamo neutral tote, probably more than any bag I own, mainly because its simple yet sophisticated design goes with just about everything.

I apologize for the repetitive photo backdrops – unfortunately the rain in the past few weeks seems to know exactly when I want to take blog photos and seems to take great pleasure in ‘scuppering’ my plans!

(Clothes and Accessories: Blouse – Massimo Dutti, Culottes – Marks and Spencer (Alexa Chung), Shoes – Tory Burch, Handbag – Salvatore Ferragamo, Bracelet – Michael Kors)