‘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

How Can You Look Instantly Stylish?: Keep it Deceptively Simple

I am not going to lie – I love a fabulously put together, complicated outfit, where the juxtaposition of the print and strips works in perfect harmony with an expected pair of fabulous shoes, and is pulled together in a cohesive fashion statement by an extravagantly over the top coat in a gorgeous colour. Stylish – check; fashionable – check; trendy  – check; every day achievable – not quite!

A meticulously curated complex fashion statement is a delight to behold and is indeed an art form.  Is it a realistic expectation for the average woman who waked up early every morning to begin a new day of juggling a multitude of life’s expectations?  I most certainly think not; except for those of us who may be blessed with exceptional taste, it is near impossible to pull together highly stylised ensembles that require considerable thought on a day to day basis.

Let me share a small story – a few weeks ago, I started noticing that a particular polka-dotted white and black loose fit dress by Zara was obviously selling very well (I do not own one). The reason I noticed this was because I was seeing this dress quite often and often multiple times a day in London.  I remember making a mental note that it was so interesting that such a deceptively simple dress should be so well-liked.  I did not realize that I was not the only one to pick up on this independently – till I saw the following article on The New York Times website –  The $50 Dress That Conquered Britain

Only once I had read this article did I realize that I was late to the game but my observations were correct – this dress is a cult hit!  It is indeed a best seller and even has an Instagram page dedicated to women wearing it. Various articles have been written about the success of the dress and Zara is still selling it – back for a second season.

This begs the question – why is this dress so popular?  In my opinion, the single most important reason is that it is deceptively simple to wear in every sense of the word.  It is a relaxed fit, a comfortable midi length and can be dressed up and down with any combination of accessories. The print is a simple canvas that allows you to wear any shoe, jewellery, handbag, coat in your wardrobe and still make the overall effect look well pulled together.  This is the kind of dress that lets the wearer interpret it to work with their body, to their convenience and to their taste – not the other way around!

This is why I believe that one simple recipe to looking instantly stylist is to keep it deceptively simple. Simplicity can indicate a measured restraint and radiate a quiet confidence that translates into a formidable fashion statement; it shows that you understand that sometimes less is more and allows your personality to do the talking.

I am a huge fan of single colour dresses and they make up a good chunk of my wardrobe.  They stand the test of time well and they also present an unlimited opportunity to try out various combinations of accessories and shoes.

In this lookbook, I am wearing a beige dress and a white dress that are simple but their cut and style are highly stylized in my opinion. I have paired my beige dress with an old statement cuff (animal print is still all the rage) and a bold bag to make for a sophisticated work look. I have paired the white dress with a gorgeous Indian necklace from @toraandesign and the simplicity of the white dress really provides a chance for the statement necklace to shine. COS is a great source of single colour dresses with a novel cut; in the summer and the winter – I am a fan!  I hope you enjoy these looks and have a great week ahead.  As always; thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and Accessories: 

White shirt dress – COS (old)

Beige A-line Dress  – COS

Indian Necklace – Toraan Design 

‘Cult Dress’ – Zara

A 1971 Wedding Story Part 2: Told Through the Wardrobe that Featured

As I mentioned in the first post of this series “A 1971 Wedding Story: Told Through the Wedding Wardrobe that Featured”,  my parents had an arranged marriage in Punjab, India in 1971. As both the families of the betrothed lived in Ludhiana, this was referred to as a ‘local wedding’. Back in the day, especially with local matches, long engagements were frowned upon as heaven forbid the couple get cold feet or a key family member have a change of heart (or discover some shady information about each other I assume). In order to ensure that such a calamity did not arise, the generally accepted wisdom dictated a  ‘chat mangani phat vya’ (quick engagement and immediate wedding).  My parents had a year old long engagement that was almost unheard of at the time.  Favourably, as my father was in the merchant navy and was due back at sea soon (and lucky for my grandparents sailing waters are quite a distance from Ludhiana and their daughter) the long engagement was given the go-ahead by all involved.

A year-long engagement had some advantages; it gave my mother ample time to shop for her wedding trousseau. What that meant, in reality, was multiple trips to ‘Chowra bazaar’, the main shopping destination in town (which contrary to its name is amazingly narrow) with both her own family and her soon to be inlaws. My mother fondly remembers that she would go with her mother and pick out a few sarees at Fakirchand (the happening saree shop in town in 1971) and leave them there on hold as they couldn’t decide on which ones to buy, with a promise to return the next day with some decisions.  When they would return the next day to purchase the final selection, the sarees would be gone. It turns out that my Dadi would also happen to go shopping there later in the day and of course, the saree man would inform her that her future daughter-in-law was in there earlier and chose a few sarees. My grandmother would then proceed to purchase those for her and instruct the salesman to tell her to choose some other ones for her maternal trousseau when she came in next. I think there was a certain charm to this kind of personalized shopping that will be lost forever in coming generations and with our preference for online shopping.

My mother says that she asked Mr. Fakirchand (I assume that was his name) that she really wanted a black evening benarsi tissue saree as part of her wedding trousseau.  He told her that he did not have one, but he would definitely get her one in the coming months. True to his word, this is the saree he sourced for her; the cost of the saree in 1971 was 250Rs.

That sounds ridiculously cheap by today’s standards but that was the standard cost of this kind of saree back then.  My mother informs me that the most money that was spent on a wedding outfit for her in 1971 was 2,500Rs. This was spent by my Dadi on her reception lehenga and her grandmother was utterly horrified at the expense (more on this when I lookbook the lehenga in question).

Once again, I love everything about this saree.  For one, this is a ‘loud and proud’ garment that announces your presence in a room. The abundance of colourful flowers on black, paired with the checkered border, is a wonderful combination of florals and checks done right on a saree.  There is something thoroughly modern about this 48-year-old saree that one could easily believe that it was purchased yesterday.  I couldn’t help but pair it with my green leather jacket; the combination of the old and new has a certain appeal that fits perfectly with my personal style sensibilities.

The tissue of this saree is now starting to fray a little and it saddens me to think that this saree will not survive much longer. I will take solance in the fact that I have documented it in this blog and shared it with you all so that we can all admire the beautiful weave and intricate handiwork that is this tissue saree.

I hope you have enjoyed this lookbook and have a great weekend ahead.  Thank you so much for reading and its lovely to be blogging again.  A special thanks to those lovely women who checked up on me to see if everything was ok as they had not seen a blog post recently. I have been exceptionally busy but its good to be back talking about fashion and sarees.

My Diwali Outfit: and Recent Travels to Mumbai

As many of you may know from my ‘About’ section and previous posts – our family spent five years in Mumbai a few years ago.  We moved for my husband’s work and when the assignment was over – it was time to come back to London (approximately about three years ago). This October half term gone was our first time back to aamchi Mumbai since we re-embraced the bright lights of the capital.  I was actually nervous about what I would feel when I stepped on Indian terra firma; would I be ecstatic, melancholic or somewhere in between?

I needn’t have worried  – the moment I stepped onto that paisley red carpet at Chhatrapati Shivaji airport – I could feel my heart soaring and a happy Bollywood tune playing in my head (“Saree ke fall sa…” if you must know). It is natural that countries and places we have lived will always have a special place in our heart and minds. Mumbai was that ‘hostess with the mostest’ that took us in with open arms and showered us with love and warmth throughout our stay there.  Going back only confirmed what I already knew – Mumbai is an amazing city which will always be like a second home to me. Also, I have a fabulous set of friends who made this a truly memorable vacation for my whole family.

Now my visit to Mumbai coincided with the run-up to Diwali. Diwali celebrations done right and buying a new outfit go hand in hand – in fact, I think that’s an official festival rule. Also, I take pride in pointing out that during this trip to India, I was spectacularly restrained on the shopping front. I decided that I would purchase only one outfit this trip that would make my womanly heart go pitter patter every time I looked at it. This was the gorgeous ensemble I purchased and I had the opportunity to wear it to the ‘Red Bus’ event while in Mumbai.

I love everything about this outfit  – the flowing palazzos, the beaded fringed blouse and the pièce de résistance  – the flowing silk cape with patches of floral embroidery.  The outfit is eye-catching, fluidly graceful and most importantly, comfortable. I have paired it with my trusted pale pink clutch, silver sandals and a lovely pair of chandelier earrings that I purchased in Santa Cruz market.

A very happy Diwali to you and yours – have a fabulous time celebrating.  I would love to hear about your plans to celebrate this year and of course about Diwali outfits that you may have purchased.  Thank you for reading and a very happy Diwali from Isha’s Verdict.

Clothes and accessories:

Outfit – XON (Pali Market)

Earrings – Silver Queen (Santa Cruz Market)

Clutch – Gucci

 

Clothes and accessories:

Outfit – XON (Pali Market)

Earrings – Silver Queen (Santa Cruz Market)

Clutch – Gucci

 

Jumping for the Jumpsuit: Boho Style

There is probably no clothing item that I have admired more on others than an amazing jumpsuit. A great jumpsuit bestows upon the wearer an aura of confidence that may or may not be truly present, however, if the perception is reality then they are halfway there.

I adore the versatility of jumpsuits! They come in a variety of styles – the culotte jumpsuit and the elasticized leg versions are some of my favourites. Jumpsuits make for great building blocks to create unique looks that allow me to use the entire repertoire of my scarf and jacket collections. They also seem to buck the ‘trend oriented’ fashion culture every 6 months; a good jumpsuit works season after season providing a great return on your initial investment.

In this lookbook, I am wearing one of my treasured jumpsuits that I have owned for many years.   As I am travelling in India, I was inspired to create a boho-flavoured jumpsuit look that would incorporate my new scarf and jacket purchase that I made a few days ago. I have added ethnic silver jewellery and a strappy sandal for a stylish ‘lunch with friends’ ensemble.

In my opinion, the key to looking good in a jumpsuit is to find one that fits well.  The fit element is more crucial with jumpsuits than it is with many other garments. I have mentioned the following in a blog 2 years ago and I am mentioning it again. These are the jumpsuit rules that I live by:

  1. If the leg is too long but it looks great – buy it and get it shortened by a tailor.
  2. If the jumpsuit has no sleeves and is too big under the arms and chest area – buy it and get it taken in by a tailor (this is easy to do by hand as well and I often do it myself).
  3. If however, the jumpsuit does not fit well around the waist area or the material pulls between the leg inseam and waist  – let it go it as fixing this is not so easy.
  4. Overall, I have found that if the fit is off on the top half of a jumpsuit – it can usually be fixed. However, if the fit is off between the waist and the bottom half, it’s best to leave it looking pretty on the hanger and ‘jump’ to the next shop.

Some of my personal favourite brands for jumpsuits whose styles and fit always seem to work include Warehouse*, Monki and  Uniqlo.  I hope you enjoyed this look and hopefully, it motivates you to add another jumpsuit or two to your wardrobe. Have a great rest of the week and as always, thank you for reading Isha’s Verdict.

*This was a collaborative post but all writing/opinions are my own

Clothes and accessories:

Jumpsuit – Express

Scarf – Fab India

Shoes – Aldo

 

Return of the Verdict: In Bold and Colourful Floral Palazzos

Hello everyone! I am not quite sure that anyone has noticed that I have not posted a blog entry for well over one month now.  This is the longest that I have gone without posting since I started this personal fashion diary and I have missed writing and your feedback.

This lapse of posting raises the obvious question  – what has kept me from posting? It’s been the sum of many parts rather than one colossal event that has deterred me from the blog I so enjoy. Like so many of us know, very occasionally life seems to burgeon beyond the confines of the 24 hours afforded to us in a day and this is exactly what happened last month. Between much-awaited guests, family, work and a ‘multiple times planned but not executed’ house move  – I finally ran out of bandwidth.  The last month has been one of the busiest months I can remember in recent years and thoroughly enjoyable. It has, however, reminded me of an important truth – don’t take on more than you can chew.  Am I the only one who falls foul of this simple yet profound piece of wisdom?

I loved these trousers the moment I set eyes upon them. The print was bold, colourful and the combination reminded of a 1970’s saree print. I hesitated for a moment before buying them, wondering if perhaps they were too bold, and then I moved swiftly past my hesitation to the payment counter.  I have paired them with a simple cream top and a colourful leather jacket.  A leather jacket in an unexpected colour is always a pleasant surprise and this one never fails to please.

It is great to be discussing fashion again and the humdrum of daily life that keeps us on our toes. I am happy to be posting again and I look forward to your feedback.  Thank you so much for reading Isha’s Verdict!

 

 

Clothes and accessories:

Trousers – Reserved (on sale for 14.99)

Top – Reserved

Leather jacket – Massimo Dutti

Handbag – Givenchy

 

 

My Top 5 Tips for Summer Holiday Packing : And My Current Favourite Holiday Dress

Hopefully, we can all find a way to take a few days off in the sun this coming summer. Summer vacations are a treat and for those of us who live in colder climates, they are a much awaited time of year.

Most of us have a good idea of what to pack depending on what kind of vacation we are taking.  These are my top tips for packing for a family summer vacation:

  1. Comfortable clothes above all else: When you are with family on vacation it is important that you are comfortable so that you can enjoy your time and be physically ready for a few episodes of intermittent sulking, possible tantrums, and accidental ice-cream spills. I find that my patience levels are intrinsically linked to my comfort levels – I am a better friend, wife, and mother when I am wearing comfortable clothes on vacation! This is not the time to pack that dress that may be too tight, too short, or you may fit into if you miraculous lose 5 pounds on the plane ride over.
  2.  Pack a few flowy dresses: On the other hand, I have often made the mistake of thinking a bit too practical and find myself in a beautiful location with linen trousers, t-shirts and not much else. Then I end up looking at women in lovely dresses and sandals and thinking I should have brought mine.  Living in London, there is not enough time for summer dresses anyway, so give yours that extra wear on vacation.
  3. Cotton: Natural, breathable fabrics look beautiful on holiday and are such a practical choice. Sometimes, it is easy to think that packing a few polyester items is a good idea to avoid wrinkles and ironing on vacation.  I always iron all my clothes at home (it really is worth it) and then a few wrinkles aren’t the end of the world.  Polyester is uncomfortable in the blazing sun and won’t absorb any perspiration, making for an awkward situation all day long.
  4. Shoes you have worn before:  I cannot tell you how many times I have made the mistake of packing brand new shoes on vacation and then bitterly regretting it. Therefore, I have a self-imposed rule – no shoes, that have not been worn previously, are allowed to accompany me on holiday. It’s natural to buy a new pair of shoes and save it for vacation – however, discovering that the shoes are highly uncomfortable or tight while on holiday is a joy-killer like none other!
  5. Cross-body bag: Absolutely the most useful kind of bag required on vacation and on most days for that matter. They look great, come in a variety of sizes and allow you two free hands to hold the baby and the drink at the same time.

The gorgeous print on this dress is glorified summer printed on cotton cloth.  For me, the dress evokes visions of me on a Caribbean vacation, with beautiful flowers and fruits surrounding me, as I walk along a bustling market. As far-fetched a vision as that may be, this dress is ideal for making a statement at home and abroad.  The length, the full sleeves, the pockets and the waist tie make for a good-looking yet practical dress. I have paired it with tan wedges and a rattan clutch on this occasion, but I also think it would great with white sneakers for a casual holiday vibe. I wore this dress recently to a royal wedding street party and the many compliments had me feeling a bit royal myself – highly recommend!

I hope you have a fabulous long weekend and thank you for visiting my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Marks and Spencer

Clutch – Michael Kors

Hat – Marks and Spencer

Three-Tiered Lace Pencil Dress: And My New Shopping Guide Services

Happy Wednesday everyone! There are few dress styles that flatter the female form the way a pencil dress does. I generally don’t tend to wear pencil dresses quite simply because I can’t find ones that fit correctly.  Once in a blue moon, however, the dress Gods take a shine to me and I will try on one that will fit perfectly. This three-tiered lace midi pencil dress is gorgeous in every way – I love the colour, the structure, and the length. I normally would give this a pass in the store, but I went out on a limb and tried it on (it helped that it was on sale) – once again proving that the ‘fitting room’ is our friend and we must visit it more often before arriving at a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ decision! I have paired it with these absolutely beautiful Toraan earrings – these Three Stone Teardrop earrings are so versatile and I can see them working perfectly with Indian and western clothes.

Isha – Shopping Guide Adventure

As many of you are aware, I have been running this blog for over two years now.  Fashion is more than a hobby – it is a passion that I truly enjoy. I am a huge advocate of the British High Street and I always champion their offerings every chance I get. London is one of the greatest shopping experiences on the planet and I am a dedicated fan.

I wanted to announce that I have recently become an Airbnb Experience Host and I will be hosting a shopping/fashion experience called ‘Shopping Tour – Oxford and Regent Street’ on the Airbnb platform.  The link to my experience is below:

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/156287?euid=10f65107-3fe6-4d39-b02c-fced7e7818a9

What will we do in this shopping experience?

We will take an exciting whistle-stop walking tour of the heart of London’s bustling retail shopping district which includes Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street. I will provide guidance on the many big department stores on these streets as well as many of the smaller retailers present. I will discuss in detail what kind of fashion, price points and designers are available in each of the stores we pass. I will also introduce you to some of the smaller shopping gems located off the many sides streets and share special tips that will optimize your shopping experience. If you want to shop these streets but are overwhelmed by the variety – this tour is a great introduction to the what, where and hows of this shopping paradise. This tour will equip you for a more targeted and productive shopping experience during your stay. I am also happy to offer styling advice from a blogger’s perspective as we shop. Are you ready to shop?

So if you fancy a shopping tour or have family and friends visiting who are avid fashionistas and think this is something they would enjoy during their visit to London – then please check out my experience on Airbnb.  More details can be found on the website and I look forward to meeting a lot of new people

If you have any questions or need any further information, feel free to send me a message or an email at sodhiisha1@gmail.com.

I hope you enjoyed this lookbook and thank you for visiting my blog!

Clothes and accessories: 

Dress – Warehouse, similar Warehouse

Earrings with Swarovski crystals  – Toraan

Always a Favourite: An All-Purpose Printed Shirt Dress

Happy Friday everyone! The Friday before a long weekend is always extra special; just like clothes that actually work for multiple purposes.  I have always loved a great shirt dress and have many in my closet.  I find that shirt dresses straddle a middle ground between casual and dressed up better than most dresses and therefore, seem to work in so many situations.

I love the busy crane print on this dress and the easy flowing light fabric is ideal for the coming months. I have styled it here with a striped clutch for contrast and a leather jacket for the wind. I look forward to wearing it with sneakers on the weekend and boots on colder days (hopefully, there will not be any soon).

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

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress- Ted Baker

Dangling Bracelet – Follie Follie

Clutch – Dune

Jacket – Massimo Dutti

 

 

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