Summer Clothes: Casual Indian Wear With Capri Pants and a Salwar

It seems like nature decided to announce the approach of summer in spectacular fashion by giving us a few gloriously sunny days in London (with a lot more sunshine due this long weekend). I am someone who loves truly warm weather and can’t remember uttering the words ‘it’s too hot’ more than three times in my life (two of which were probably said after wandering around Chor Bazar in Mumbai for four hours without food or drink but it was worth it!).

Hot weather also brings with it the season for probably my favourite kind of Indian clothes  – summer Indian fashion. Summer heralds in beautiful Indian clothes in summery fabrics like cotton, mal and chiffon.  Combine these fabrics with delicate embroidery such as Chikaankari work and embellishments like mukaish and the clothes become beautiful pieces of art. Formal summer clothes are gorgeous, however, there is a distinct beauty to completely casual summer Indian wear that really appeals to me. The fabric, designs and colours always remind me of summer in my grandparents house and evoke memories of lassi, mangoes and the comforting noise of a ceiling fan.

Casual Indian wear doesn’t have to be bling and its everyday simpleness makes it extra special.  I have lookbooked two casual Indian outfits in this post that I enjoy wearing.  The first is a pale blue handloom kurta with some white roses embroidered on the yoke.  I would always wear this with a white chikan-cloth pair of pants and a white dupatta to ward off the heat in Mumbai.  Here, I have paired it with a pair of woven silver slip-ons that I would normally not associate with Indian clothes but they seem to work and add to the overall comfort quotient of the outfit.  The second outfit is a typical summer salwar kameez with a short kameez and a Patiala salwar.  Nothing sings summer like a white patiala salwar and the lovely colours and patterns of the embroidery join in the chorus. Juttis are my flat footwear of choice here but I am partial to a pretty pair of kolapuri chappals in high summer.

I enjoy combining a variety of casual summer kurtas with various trousers, palazzos, salwars and churidars. I would love to hear about your favourite outfits to wear in the summer.  Thank you so much for visiting my blog and have a fabulous weekend!

Menswear – Inspired Shoes: In Classic Navy, Cream and Orange

I have always loved menswear-inspired shoes for as long as I can remember! It doesn’t matter if they are brogues, oxfords or loafers (or various other subsets which I have a hard time distinguishing between), I am drawn to all of them.  For one, they are so comfortable and work well with both corporate and casual looks.  Second, they just look so good they say “I am cool and confident” in the best way possible.  Most importantly, they are a great option for when the weather is not hot enough for sandals but not cold enough for boots.

My one piece of advice: When you see a gorgeous pair of menswear-inspired shoes – just buy them! I find that they can be harder to come by than many other styles of shoes and I have often missed out on lovely pairs because I waited too long. I saw a beautiful pair of black and white wingtips and a blue monk-strap earlier this year, that I did not purchase and subsequently never found pairs that look as good.

I love this blue pair of pointy shoes with silver accents on the laces.  I understand that this particular pair may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, I urge everyone to give menswear-inspired shoes a try just incase you haven’t considered them before.

I hope you enjoy this look and thank you so much for reading.

(Clothes and accessories: Shoes – ASOS, Shirt – Lost Ink, Coat – Therapy, Trousers – H&M, Bag – Karen Millen)

 

At Box Hill: In My Yellow Coat and Pale Pink Brogues

A few weeks ago, we realised that we had awakened to a very special day!  It was one of those rare days when there were no kids activities to attend, family commitments to keep and no major sporting events to watch.  Realising that we had chanced upon that monumentally rare species of  ‘we have nothing planned’ day, which is nearing extinction in the modern families’ existence, we decided to seize the opportunity!

My husband remembered going to a beautiful National Trust area called Box Hill when we was a young boy and he had always wanted to go back.  We decided that today was as good a day as any and set off on our adventure. Box Hill  is a summit of the North downs located in Surrey and is approximately 30 km (19 mi) south-west of London. The drive to Box Hill displays the best of leafy Surrey and it is easy to understand why Box Hill falls within the ‘Surrey Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Box Hill offers breathtaking views of the countryside and is a great place to set off for walks and treks to explore the Surrey Hills. Approximately, 850,000 people visit Box Hill each year and it is well equipped with plenty of car parking space, a great cafeteria and a gift shop.

The scenic vistas were out of this world and after we walked up and down the big hill, we rewarded ourselves with a lovely lunch at the cafeteria. The coffee was freshly brewed and fabulous, as was my bacon bap and cake.  Reenergised, we briefly walked around the general area and explored the surrounding countryside.

I had decided to wear my new pastel printed bardot top with my yellow coat for some Easter cheer, accompanied by my pink platform brogues to walk around in. Much to my dismay, I was not appropriately dressed for the destination at all.  Given the lovely walks and treks on offer all around, it would have been ideal to have been wearing solid walking gear with a good pair of sneakers or walking boots.  I still managed to walk around but I did feel a bit foolish, till I saw a lady traipsing around the cafeteria in high heels. Shamefully, I must admit that seeing her made me feel better as it’s always reassuring to observe that you are not the only misinformed creature around. As I told my husband; the downside of spontaneity is the lack of preparation and the abundance of humiliation.

Box hill was a gorgeous place and I am looking forward to going back, appropriately dressed this time, for some great walks. It is also a fabulous place to go for a good old-fashioned picnic with young and old.  If you are looking for somewhere to go with friends and family this coming long weekend – I would highly recommend Box Hill!

I hope you enjoy the pictures and thank you for so much visiting my blog.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/box-hill

(Clothes and Accessories: Coat – Mango, Top – Zara, Shoes – Dune (similar – Karen Millen), Sunglasses – Chanel, Bag – Luana Italy)

NOT TO BE MISSED

On a different note, if you are in London and are looking for an amazing couture outfit or exquisite jewellery this season, then this showcase by Shivani Ahluwalia should be at the top of your list:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boho Chic: Fringed Kimono Worn Two Ways

Fashion is ever evolving and that ‘newness factor’ has a distinct attraction.  However, every once in a while I will look at a magazine article displaying the latest trend and think, “This is crazy – how many people are really going to put this on and venture out on the street!”

I must admit that this was my initial reaction to the ‘kimono trend’ when it started a few years ago.  I envisioned myself looking like an extra in an opium den from a B grade Chinese movie, pouring drinks in a velvet fringed kimono!  Then I saw this kimono, tried it on, and loved the floaty feel of the fabric as well as the movement of the fringe when I walked. I decided to be a risk taker and give the trend a chance!  I am so glad that I did because not only does the kimono work with so many outfits but it serves as a great coverup when I am not sure of the weather or temperature at a given destination.

The fashion moral of the story: Like so many things in life, you have to give certain looks a chance to see if they work for you. If you never try new looks, you run the risk of getting stuck in a fashion rut and while personal style is an individual choice, it stills need to grow and evolve to be at the top of its game.

I have styled this kimono with jeans and high heels, as well as with a dress and flats,  to high light the versatility of this kimono.  There are some beautiful kimonos on the market currently and I am hoping to find this one a companion in my wardrobe this season. I hope you enjoyed this look and thank you for visiting my blog.

Reminder: You can listen to my very first podcast on Globalise-Asian. They are going to have very interesting speakers in the future so please check out their website www.globalise-asian.co.uk for podcasts by and for the Asian community.

 

(Clothes and Accessories: Kimono – ZARA (very similar – MANGO), White top – Topshop, Dress – H&M, Suede Bag – Elizabeth and James

 

Hello Yellow: In a Bardot Blouse and a Buttoned Midi Skirt

I am an avid explorer and lucky to be part of a family in which every one loves travelling.  Having exposed our children to international travel at an early age, it has instilled in them a love for far-flung destinations and exotic foods that is gratifying to observe. As a result, it is tempting to want to head to a new and exciting destination every time there is a school break and some time off.

However, this Easter break we decided to head to an intimately familiar and comfortable destination on our doorstep – we decided to stay home. I loved the idea of having multiple days off where the whole family can wake up late and lounge around together without a set time-table and preplanned itinerary. Staying home has been enjoyable for the entire family and we have indulged in some fabulous family bonding exercises.  Last night, we watched ‘Gandhi’ together on TV and I was amazed at how interested the children were in the movie.

It seems that while I was spot on about the enjoyment part, perhaps in my zeal to stay home I had glossed over some simple facts in my mind.  I had forgotten about the multiple loads of laundry, multiple requests for food and multiple times I would have to ask the kids to get off their electronic devices.  I had perhaps also, ever so slightly, overlooked the possible side effects that excessive sibling bonding between the children may have on my general health.

Now I find that I am looking at my friends’ and family’s vacation pictures on social media with a renewed interest.  Perhaps for the last few days of Easter break we can head to that other familiar place that the children love so much – the grandparents house!

Speaking of things we love – my love for the colour yellow is well documented on this blog. This bright yellow midi skirt is right up my alley and it is made of a heavy cotton that falls beautifully.  I think it would work exceedingly well with so many tops, including a plain white t-shirt.  This lovely off the shoulder bardot top has lovely statement sleeve ends and again, would look great with a variety of bottoms.  Paired together, I think they make for a lovely spring outfit that is both classy and comfortable. As an aside, I believe this top is supposed to be work with the bow-tie in the back but I preferred the way it looked this way around.

I hope you enjoy this look and have a great Easter weekend.  Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

(Clothes and Accessories: Blouse – Matalan, Skirt – Stradivarius, Bracelets – bought in Santorini, Clutch – Henri Bendel) 

Two Trends Together: Cold Shoulder Top With a Gingham Skirt

I am a huge fan of the cold shoulder trend that is all the rage at the moment.  It seems to be universally flattering, appropriate for all ages and a great solution for ladies who prefer not to show too much of their upper arms .

The other new trend that is reigning supreme is gingham. What I love about gingham is that is lends its self so effortlessly to so many looks.  Blue and red gingham always reminds me of summer school uniforms and yellow gingham of beautiful baby nurseries. There are a multitude of colour choices on the high street but black and white gingham is probably my current favourite.

While gingham look great by itself, my recommendation to make a gingham look pop is to add another bright colour to the outfit. I think the addition of a bright colour in any form, be it shoes or a handbag, really brings the gingham check to the forefront and makes for a stylish fashion forward look.

I have paired my black ‘cold shoulder’ jumper with a high-low hem gingham skirt.  I can see myself wearing this skirt through the summer with trainers and sandals.  For now, I have gone for a dressier look with classic black high-heeled courts and a clutch bag.  I have finished it off with a bright blue woollen jacket with padded leather sleeves.  The jacket adds a fabulous pop of colour that makes the outfit stand out from the crowd.

I hope you enjoyed this look and have a fabulous rest of the week! As always, thank you for visiting my blog.

(Clothes and Accessories: Top – New Look, Skirt – ASOS, Handbag – Modalu, Jacket – Truth of Touch)

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!

Celebrating World Book Day: In an Argyle Jumper and Velvet Ankle Boots

Yesterday was World Book Day and it was lovely to see so many children, including my own, celebrating books by dressing up as their favourite book characters. I am an avid reader and books have always been an essential part of my life.  The article below, is amended from a piece I wrote for an on-line magazine many years ago.

The History Of My Love Affair With Books

Even as a child I was fascinated by the power of the written word.  The ability of a writer to weave a magical story got me through many a bored afternoon in the dusty verandah of my grandparents’ ancestral home in Ludhiana, India.  As my father was in the Merchant Navy, I went to boarding school at a young age. Consequently, vacations where I could not join my parents were spent at my maternal grandparents’ joint family home in Ludhiana.  This was a huge house, headed up by my grandparents, with many wings and even more relatives and a dog named Johnny who was permanently seated under the big cooler. It was a happy childhood that was unique in many ways.

So I would come to Ludhiana, wake up the next day, the first official day of vacation, and there was nothing much to do.  I would go out and sit in the main verandah and after making small talk with various family members, there was still nothing to do.  I would eat my ‘parantha’, wander around the rooms, talk to ‘Pinky’ the cleaner and ‘Baldev’ the electrician and if I was really lucky I would see ‘Nota’ the nail cutter man in action cutting my Mamaji’s nails (as a child it amazed me that there was a man who made his living cutting nails). The few cousins who lived in the house were all boys and furthermore, went off for the day to school or college, leaving me waiting for lunch or death, which ever one came first. I would like to remind the younger reader that I grew up in the 80’s and in the 80’s there were no malls to go to in Ludhiana or anywhere else for that matter. Back then, the only entertainment in town was ‘Sutlej Club’, an esteemed establishment favoured by the Ludhiana gentry.  If you were so lucky you may get taken there in the evenings, eat chicken, play tombola, reflect on the state of the universe (not really), talk to some really interesting people (not really) and then return to the ancestral home to eagerly await the dawning of the next action packed day – not really!!!

Given the above scenario, my best friends during my childhood vacations were books.  After much pleading, my grandmother would take me to a bookshop in ‘Padhor House’ and buy me lots of books which she reminded me cost a fortune. They did, but I figured one could not put a price on sanity. Having stocked up, I would then proceed to read day in and day out.

Having said that, there was in fact one more mode of entertainment available in the Ludhiana of my youth.  The cinema; the old-fashioned single screen cinema that ran the same movie five times a day, for at least a week at a time.  My maternal family owned and operated a cinema and as such you could go there, sit in the family ‘box’, eat popcorn, drink thumbs up and watch the same movie a hundred times.  Now as a child I can’t really say that I was fascinated with Hindi movies, but inadvertently Hindi movies were a big part of my childhood vacations.  I say this honestly, even as a ten-year old child I distinctly remember thinking why are so many of these movies so boring?

The point is that even as a young girl the run of the mill story, of the run of the mill Hindi movie, insulted my intelligence.  This wasn’t because I was so intelligent; it was because the storylines were extremely poor and devoid of any real entertainment value. The Hindi movies I saw all summer long were never able to capture my imagination as the books I read did.  My books allowed for a magical suspension of disbelief, which in turn catapulted me into different worlds every day. Hindi movies of the 80’s (which I think may have been the darkest decade of Hindi cinema) could not even create a remote feeling of being entertained in a ten-year old. Instead, they trapped you in a limbo like state where the captives’ only other choice was utter boredom which may or may not be as painful as the current viewing.

I now realize that the foundations of my desire to be a Hindi movie script writer were laid during my childhood. Alongside my books, I would sit in the verandah and make up stories for Hindi movies.  My young mind would imagine various scenarios and settings, plots and casts, and many a day would pass by with me writing scripts in my head.

Childhood meandered into adulthood but two thoughts that embedded themselves into my psyche at a young age have remained unchanged. The first one is that I would like to write scripts for Hindi movies. My subsequent return to India in 2010 allowed me to complete and register my first Hindi movie script but what I do with it now is the million dollar question!

The second childhood trauma that has never left me is the fear of boredom. I am absolutely petrified of being bored. The many a hot afternoon spent sitting in the verandah in Ludhiana contemplating whose life was more boring, mine or Johnny’s, has scarred me for life. I can physically not board a plane without ample reading material in my bag! No amount of assurances by my husband that I can watch movies or that he will stay up and talk to me (like that’s ever going to happen) will get me to step foot on an aircraft without sufficient books and magazines.

When my grandmother passed away, it was decided that the aforementioned ancestral family home in Ludhiana would be sold. Even I was taken aback at how saddened I was by this news. My children will never experience ‘sitting in the verandah with nothing to do’, which was an instrumental part of my childhood.  That verandah, boring as it seemed in those days, gave me the gift of books and most importantly, the gift of imagination.

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I love it when you end up purchasing clothes that seem to last season after season.  I am a huge fan of argyle patterned sweaters and they are a staple you can come back to every winter, as I do to this pink jumper. This black woollen A-lined shaped skirt has stood the test of time and works perfectly with black leggings on those days when you just want to wear something other than trousers. I have paired this old outfit with velvet ankle boots that are a fun take on a black shoe and the small heel makes them perfect for wearing all day long.  Have a great weekend and thank you so much for reading.

(Clothes and accessories: Jumper – Fred Perry, Skirt – Marks and Spencer, Velvet boots – London Rebel)

Reuse and Restyle: White Dress With an Embroidered Jacket

It is almost the end of February and the official start of spring will take place next month. While it is still cold outside, the weather is getting warmer, the garden greener and the days longer.  I find the coming month is a great time to start pulling out some of those cotton dresses, that while still can’t be worn by themselves owing to the cold, can be worn paired with jackets and boots on one of those warmer days. OK fine  – I know that it could also snow next month but a girl can always hope…

I have lookbooked this dress before in the following post – Classic White Shirt Dress: Simplicity At It’s Best .  It is hard to go wrong with a well tailored white dress and I love the full sleeves and low-high hem on this one.  It really is a blank canvas in terms of styling options and seems to work with almost anything. I have opted for a neutral theme for this look and paired it with a lovely embroidered jacket and grey over-the-knee boots. I find that neutral coloured boots work really well in the final months of cold weather as they don’t appear as heavy and overpowering as the darker coloured boots often used in the dead of winter. I have continued the colour palette with a complimentary neutral bag and used a red lip to provide the only pop of colour.

I hope you like the styling and thank you so much for reading.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the quality and composition of the blog so that I can improve it further.

(Clothes and Accessories: Dress – COS (similar), Jacket – Zara, Boots – Zara, Hangbag – Givenchy)

Fridays Fabulous Finds: Quirky Is The Order Of The Day

What does ‘quirky’ mean?  According to the dictionary, it means having or being characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits or aspects. I have always liked quirky clothes and quirky dressers . I admire their self-belief in wearing something a bit different and their comfort level in being willing to stand out in a crowd. When I see someone wearing something quirky I often think, “I wonder where they got that? I haven’t seen it on the high street so you obviously know some shops that I don’t!” Immediately, my estimation of their fashion prowess goes up a few notches.

One fabulous effect of incorporating ‘quirky’ pieces into my wardrobe is that their inherently fun nature always puts a smile on my face. They also catch other peoples attention and you may get a smile and a compliment out of it – which can be rare these days!  Finally, the great benefit of wearing quirky clothing is that you can say with some certainty that the chances that some one else in the room will be wearing the same thing are relatively slim.

In my book, there is ‘wearable quirky’ which is great fun, and then there is ‘crazy quirky’ where you have to remind your self to stop staring but your head refuses to turn! I always advise adding a few ‘wearable’ quirky pieces to one’s wardrobe  – they make a great style statement and show off one’s ‘fashion chops’ at the same time . Below are a few quirky pieces that I would be more than happy to incorporate into my own wardrobe.

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

quirky-coat - COS
COS – I love the murky print on this coat – it would liven up any outfit and make a great splash on a monochrome outfit.
map skirt
Chicwish – This map print is fabulous! I would love to wear this skirt on holiday with white sneakers and a simple t-shirt – cool and comfortable. Think of how good it would look in holiday pictures…
quirky-from-sister-jane
ASOS (Sister Jane) – The bees on these trousers have me weak in the knees! They are so beautifully quirky and would look great with a black top for an evening out.
quirky-zara
Zara – The belt on this dress looks like sleeve ends. I love the simplicity of the design and the resulting quirkiness.
quirky-hm
H&M – Tigers and flowers – it’s loud and makes no apologies for being an eyeball grabbing dress!