Budget Interior Update?: My Top 3 Ways to do Up Your Interiors on a Budget

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

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

 

Suited and Booted: My Top Three Reasons for Purchasing a Suit (and my first video clip)

Hello, everyone.  It has been a long time coming and I have finally succumbed.  Please see below my first video clip on this blog where I talk about the top three reasons why next time you go shopping for work clothes; consider buying a suit.  Now I confess that I was nervous, but I was equally determined to try this week.  So without further ado –  here I am.

I am currently loving the monochrome suits (see Zara) I have seen on the high street.  Single colour suits, in bright colours, would make a perfect blank canvas outfit to accessorize, or not, as you wish.  A great feature of suits is that you can buy the blazer and the bottom separately; perfect for people who are not proportional and need a different size for the top and bottom such as me.

I love the classic check on this suit and I am ecstatic that I bought it for £65 total in the sale. I have lookbooked it with a variety of tops, shoes and handbags to demonstrate its versatility.  I hope you enjoy the video – I know the content may be simplistic but I am hoping to build on this start with better content in future attempts.

Have a fabulous rest of the week and thank you so much for visiting my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Striped Jumper – ARKET

Trousers – Massimo Dutti

Jacket – Massimo Dutti

Red Handbag – Prada

Black handbag – Longchamp

 

Autumn Boho Style: and my Love of Steam Irons

I am a huge fan of boho style – the florals, embroidery, dangly earrings and heaps of bangles – all worn together to create a truly unapologetic feminine style statement. We often associate boho styling with summer, flowy dresses and flowing locks. While a bohemian look works fabulously in the summer, in my opinion, it works equally well in the colder months.

Autumn brings a rich bounty of dark floral dresses to the shops and I think they form the perfect starting point for a great boho outfit. All you need to add is all the other dangly bits and bobs, a great handbag and a pair of boots to complete your moody autumn bohemian look.

Speaking of flowing dresses – there is nothing quite like the pleasure of putting on a recently ironed dress with no creases where the material sways gently as you walk – bliss! This blissful state would not be possible without my other love  – full powered steam generator irons.  The other day I went to get my eyebrows done – as one does when they start to shoot past their pre-set boundaries and take over your face.  The eyebrow lady and I were discussing what household chore we love and hate and we both said at the same time, “I love ironing and I am happy to iron anytime.”  What an amazing coincidence we thought, and decided to delve deeper into our mutual love of ironing.  Lo and behold, we quickly discovered that both she and I use full powered steam generator irons and would rather trade in our husbands before we gave up on the irons! I have been using a powerful steam iron for a few years now and I can truly say that it is among the best household purchase I have ever made.  They are more expensive than normal irons but worth every penny that I have ever spent on them. The creases just fall away and I always end up freshly ironing my clothes whenever I need to as they make the process so very easy and satisfying.

This is not a sponsored post on behalf of any ironing company and I have used multiple brands in the last few years. The eyebrow wonder lady and I were waxing eloquent about these machines and I told her that I owed it to my readers to share our mutual passion with them, in the case that someone had not tried one or was sitting on the fence about purchasing one.  Trust me, ladies, these machines are worth every penny and as Loreal tells us – you are worth it!

I hope you enjoyed this lookbook and I would love to hear your feedback.  As always, thank you for taking the time to read Isha’s Verdict and have a great weekend.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Zara

Cape – Ted Baker

Handbag – Coach

Boots – Dune Black

 

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

 

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

Accessories:

Earrings – Toraan 

+44 (0) 7850998335

 

A Personal Viewpoint: What Really Changes in Your Forties From a Fashion Perspective?

I have been asked this question many times – how has fashion really changed for you in your 40s? I think the natural progression of our lives is akin to a closed flower bud progressing to a flower in full bloom. As we age, our petals slowly unfurl and by the time we reach our forties our lives resemble a multi-layered flower. Many of us have families, children, relationships, aging parents, high-pressure jobs, health issues and other aspects that are part and parcel of a life in full bloom with all its beauty, responsibilities and complications. This natural progression definitely has an impact on our fashion sensibilities. While I agree that age is only a number, my fashion preferences have definitely evolved over the years and hopefully for the better. In my forties, I have found the following to hold true:

1. A higher comfort level/acceptance of natural body shape: By the time you arrive in your forties, you have lived with your body for long enough to know a few things for certain. Genetics is a powerful force and acceptance is a necessary happiness-inducing life skill. We all have a natural body shape and they all have their pros and cons. For me, the key to fashion happiness is to recognize your natural body shape, accept it, and then dress in a way to accentuate your obvious advantages and draw attention away from your perceived disadvantages. For example, I am pear-shaped and my top half is smaller than my bottom half. I rarely struggle with finding tops that fit but it is considerably harder to find a pair of trousers that fit well. I have now accepted that I will never fit into a pencil dress off the shelf – for a pencil dress to fit me well, will always require alterations to be made. I think by the time the forties arrive, you just accept that certain styles will always work, will sometimes work and some will never work. I truly believe that this personal knowledge of what works for you is the holy grail of being well dressed, and the chance of finding it in your forties is significantly higher than ever before.

2. Comfort may not always be a priority but it is definitely a pre-thought rather than an afterthought: My life has definitely included uncomfortable fashion moments where I have chosen to wear items that became more uncomfortable with every passing moment and finally the discomfort has ruined the party mood. The true toll of an uncomfortable fashion decision is often felt the next day with bruised skin and painful feet bearing witness to your folly. In my forties, discomfort, cold and pain are not worth the fashion statement, no matter how glorious. If I am going to be on my feet all day – then no heels for me and if it’s going to be a cold day – I carry an appropriate jacket even if it impedes my style statement. In the course of my fourth decade, I am far more practical in my fashion choices and happier for it.

3. A more adventurous approach to style: Contrary to popular belief, I think many of us become more adventurous in our readiness to try new styles in our forties. I find that I am far more open to experimenting with fashion than ever before. A few good reasons may explain this adventurous streak. a) peer pressure doesn’t carry the weight it may have in earlier years. What will my friends think is no longer relevant – my good friends will be honest and supportive and what I think is most important. b) Your own ability to judge your fashion choices is far more astute – I know when something looks terrible and no amount of desire to be ‘on trend’ will let me step out in it. Therefore, I now make it a point to at least try on shapes and silhouettes that I may not have done in the past and often I am pleasantly surprised with the results.

4. An unapologetic acceptance of your personal style statement: I think we all have personal preferences in terms of the type of fashion we are drawn to – a personal signature fashion style that we are most likely to exhibit without consciously trying something different. I have always been drawn to floral girlie styles or overtly ethnic styles in Indian wear and this constitutes the DNA of my personal style statement. I am no longer apologetic for being drawn to floral numbers when friends say, ‘That looks like something you would wear’. Yes, it is something I would wear because I enjoy wearing it – it’s really that simple.

5. Willingness to pay more for quality: When I was in my twenties, I had a hard time understanding why a cashmere sweater cost four times the amount of another sweater or why a feather down jacket was so much more expensive. I still love a bargain, but now I am willing to pay more for quality because it matters more to me. The good news is that in your forties you may also be in a better financial position than in your twenties (I fully understand this may not always be the case) and have more disposable income to buy better quality. In my forties, I finally understand that certain things cost more because they provide a greater benefit such as increased warmth, and it is my choice to pay more for that extra benefit.

Personally, I am enjoying fashion as a ‘thing’ more in my forties than ever before. We are lucky to live in a world that is far more accepting of the idea of ‘female fashion choice’ than any of the generations before. Forties fashion is just as pleasurable as fashion at other ages because the fundamentals told true at any age – wear what you enjoy and your personal fashion statement is unique and yours to make.

In the lookbook below, I am wearing an A-line dress – I enjoy wearing that shape as it always works well for my pear-shaped body. I love flat boots as the comfort they provide in walking around town is second to none. These beauties are made from a stretch fabric that clings to my leg and doesn’t slide down – making this a ‘winning boot’ as far as I am concerned. I have layered my dress with a wool turtleneck, sleeveless coat and a blanket scarf (I love the juxtapositioning of the polka dots and stripes) to stay warm and avoid a bulky coat, which I am hoping to pack away for many months in the near future.

I hope you enjoy this post (feedback would be welcome) and have a great week ahead. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Clothes and Accessories:

Dress – Stradivarius (currently £12.59)

Sleeveless Coat – Zara 

Boots – Massimo Dutti

Blanket Scarf – Paul Smith (similar)

Necklace – Coach

Fabulous Flats: It’s Almost Time for Shoes Without Socks

Beautiful, elegant and easy on your feet – what’s there not to love about flats! ‘Flats’ can mean a variety of shoe types but I am referring to close-fronted flat shoes that can be worn with or without footsies (those tiny invisible socks). My eyes are instantly drawn to a fabulous pair of flats. Personally, I find an outfit styled with statement flats the epitome of everyday sophistication. I always feel that there is refined confidence exuded by a woman who looks fabulous and does not need a pair of heels to lift the outfit. I do love heels as much as the next person but given a finite amount of money and asked to choose between a gorgeous pair of flats and a gorgeous pair of heels – I would put my money on the flats every time! I have written about my take on building a great ‘flats’ collection in an earlier blog post – The ‘Fabulous Flats’ Series: My Take on Building a Great ‘Flats’ Shoe Collection.

Flats exhibit great versatility in terms of looking great at work and on the weekend, and can actually be worn to and from work without ‘under the desk’ shoe changes. In colder countries such as England, there is a defined window of time that flats can be worn in perfect sync with the weather.  For me, ‘flats time’ is the period between spring and ‘proper summer’ (when we have one) paving the way for summer sandals. Therefore, while the weather outside may seem very cold to think sockless shoes, it will soon be time for flats.  So dust off your flats, plan some outfits around them and if you need some new ones  – Easter holidays would be a great time to shop! I have linked some great ones on sale below.

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

Clothes and Accessories:

Jumper – Warehouse (similar Whistles)

Trousers – Massimo Dutti (similar Zara)

Flat Shoes – Massimo Dutti (Other flats in the shops that I am loving at the moment – Massimo Dutti, Zara, Dune)

Coat – COS

Handbag – Doone and Bourke