What it’s like for a 30-something girl to #WFH in the middle of nowhere

Last July, I took a flight from Mumbai’s T2 and flew to Bagdogra to spend the rest of the lockdown with my parents in a sprawling tea estate in the Dooars. I was accompanied by a hastily packed duffel bag of my most precious belongings and mild PTSD. The past four months—from March to July—had been tough, what with being locked in a Bandra bedroom with minimum cooking skills and maximum workload. To give an example, I once ate a raw tomato for lunch, gulped in mouthfuls in between back-to-back Zoom calls. Even then, despite my growling tummy and weakening brain cells, I laughed, telling anybody who’d listen, the contents of my meal. There was also the involvement of a certain stubborn garden rat, persistent fungi and a soaking almirah—things I’d rather not get into now to avoid summoning repressed memories.

The circumstances that led me to the airport and back home hadn’t been smooth. While the onset of flights had brought hope, there was still a hurdle—the tea plantation had tightened its regulations, mandating institutional quarantine for all outsiders. The below average accommodation reserved for the purpose had become overcrowded, said my dad, giving me details of the parties the quarantined people were hosting on the premises. Needless to say, these developments kept me on a diet of burnt granola and undercooked pancakes for an additional one month.

Meanwhile, my very enterprising mother had been busy. She’d been getting after everybody she could get after, to allow me to come home. She even went to the extent of drawing a map of our house for the local medical officer (I pity him for having been subject to my mum’s wrath), proving that I would be quarantining in a completely different section, away from the rest of the property. After multiple tries, he complied, perhaps tiring of my mother’s persistence. God had finally agreed to conspire with us. And I took an Indigo flight home.

As my cab drew up the back gate after the three-hour long drive from the airport, my mother stood waiting by the doorway. The raging pandemic made sure there weren’t any hugs or kisses exchanged. Unconditional Love retorted by serving steaming hot rajma-chawal. I had been transported to heaven in a matter of hours and have been comfortably coddled there ever since.  

After renting a Bombay apartment with a writer’s income, graduating to slightly larger “matchboxes” every appraisal, living in the annexe of a Burra Sahib’s bungalow can be overwhelming. One never quite gets used to all the help. Or the sheer scale of the property. Waking up at dawn on a feather-soft bed facing wall-to-wall windows overlooking an expanse of green is consistently surprising. Not to mention the on-call mug of tea that appears by my bedside every morning. The spotting of a new and often exotic species of bird never fails to elicit inexplicable joy. Nor do the hot meals, many of which are whipped up by the cook under the trained eye of my younger brother, a chef.

I discover the joy of indulging in slow-cooked biryani and succulent pepper chicken. Of multi-course meals on special occasions. Of tall, chilled glasses of smoothies, blended with chickoos, bananas and peaches handpicked from our backyard. Of hot cake straight out of the oven. Eating is no longer an activity spent in front of a laptop watching a ‘Friends’ rerun. It’s now a family affair punctuated with laughter, arguments and my mother’s attempts at warding off awkward silences.

As I recuperate gastronomically, nature decides to show off. This is perhaps its attempt at a warm welcome. There are psychedelic sunrises and fluorescent sunsets. There’s the clatter of crickets and the buzz of bees. There are squirrels noisily bounding on the tin roof at night. There’s that deafening thunder and blinding lightening. I note how nature’s cries vary with the changing seasons. I take in the bursting gladioli in the spring, and the watery hydrangeas in the monsoon. I witness the occasional band of monkeys causing squeals and cries in the household (“Protect the pineapples!”). I join in the tensed activity when wild elephants, trumpeting loudly, cause a ripple of fear, horror and excitement.

Oftentimes, I feel like I want to reach out and touch the beauty. But I can’t. Like one of those dreams when you are chasing something, but somehow can’t catch up. I have felt this way in places that are too beautiful to fathom. Places that are so magical, it hurts. Is this why we take photographs, I wonder? So that we can be active, for once? Engage with the scene? Interact with it through shutter speed, exposure, frames, and filters? I feel mesmerised and trapped at the same time. Mesmerised because I love what I see. Trapped because even rolling on the lawn and climbing a hill don’t feel enough. They just tire the limbs without tiring the eyes. And when it comes to beauty, all our senses want to be tired. We want to climb the mountain while also admiring its view from afar. We want to run in between tea plantations while also observing it from a vantage point. We want to float on the lake while also having a birds-eye view of its expanse. We want to actively engage all our senses at the same time to truly drown ourselves in the view, to completely derive the joy of the universe. And even when we do, it somehow isn’t enough. There’s still a dull longing, one that doesn’t know how to fulfil itself. 

After the initial few months of absolute awe at my new-found elevated lifestyle—not having to mop the kitchen for starters—I gradually find myself having bouts of restlessness. I have the uncomfortable feeling that life is passing me by. That time is running out. That while others, in cities, are living, I am in a time warp, where things stand still. Like I am in a limbo. Like this tea plantation is a desktop wallpaper and I am a tree stuck to it. Unmoving. My world has begun to consist of screens, my folks, fictitious characters in shows and the occasional wild animal. The surrounding greenery, when I am on a deadline, becomes just a pretty painting to appreciate during breaks. And once the work starts and the deadlines loom, the plantation fades to the background, like a photograph hanging on the wall of an office. 

Sometimes, I need to force myself to look out of the window. To drag myself out of the door. The emails compete for attention. The words “need by EOD” cut short my cycling trip. There are days when I am not stepping out at all. I am pulled into the dystopian world run by technology where between 10 to 6, I am staring at my laptop, making decks and sending briefs. Working remotely from the middle of a plantation looks great on social media. But, there are days when nature can’t compensate for the joy of a good old laugh with a colleague.

I often feel like I am the only one experiencing this surge of emotions. This dissatisfaction with life. This frustration. This unfathomable helplessness. This obsession with the time before. What keeps me awake at night is the fear that I might not make it to the end of this with my mental faculties intact. It’s discomforting to feel discontent when one is so incredibly privileged. It feels wrong to complain. I often feel like kicking myself in the gut for these negative feelings. What gives me the right to crib? I hold my thoughts in for fear of being judged. Or, at least, I try.

As we prepare for the third wave of the virus, the future seems all the more uncertain. One minute I can’t wait to break free and live on my own again. The next, I can’t imagine having to pick out food bits from the drain, breathe the dusty air and look out into concrete. What bothers me most is the nagging feeling that the past year has undone years of progress I’d made, managing independently in Bombay. I have grown dependent on luxury and comfort, and on my parents’ support.

My gratitude feels privileged. My privilege unnerves me. And this whole essay, on re-reading, feels tone-deaf. I feel guilty for being too happy. I feel the same for feeling frustrated. Maybe, going back to the city, living life within my own means, paying rent and managing meals, will help sort this conundrum. Maybe, all I need to do is eat a raw tomato for lunch again.

—–

Behind the scenes of fashion.

Hello People,

It’s been a while since I have posted anything here and I have been feeling so so so guilty. Been caught up in packing my house, working at work (yes. FINALLY), and watching Game of Thrones. Woohoo!

How have you all been? Anyone else planning to shift house? Any packing tips you’d like to give me? Cause I am going positively insane trying to wrap things up, stealing and begging for cardboard boxes from anyone who’d listen, and washing my face a zillion times. Thanks to the year-long layers of collected dust on my bags. *sigh*

Last to last weekend, I attended (or rather volunteered) at an exhibition. Both Saturday and Sunday. My friend Pallavi Dhyani is the founder of THREE, a darling label of anti-fits, innovative cuts, cottons, linens, whites and stripes, and she needed someone to mind the stall with her. Now this exhibition was quite an interesting one. Firstly, the venue was unlike the usual hall or ground. It was held in the backyard of a colonial style bungalow; an area in Bandra, Mumbai called The Vintage Garden.

You can follow The Vintage Garden here.

Vintage Garden, Patkar Bungalow, 34D, Turner Road, Bandra (West)
Patkar Bungalow, 34D, Turner Road, Bandra (West)

Doesn’t this bungalow look cool?

So on the 23rd and 24th of April, I walked into the Vintage Garden for the first time. A sweltering hot day, with just some half-hearted floor fans for respite, I began helping Pallavi sell her gorgeous clothes.

Here’s a glimpse.

THREE clothing by Pallavi Dhyani at The Vintage Garden, Bandra West, Mumbai

A muted palette  of light greys, whites, off-whites and stripes met soft cottons, linens and cotton-linens, in a collection that instantly brought your temperature down by a couple of degrees. One look, and you’d feel easy-breezy, summery and happy, even as the sun scorched its angry rays, trying to get you to furrow your brow.

Pallavi Dhyani wearing her own creation from THREE at the Vintage Garden. Her collection is fabricated from cotton and linen and has plenty of stripes. She wears her THREE shirt dress with a striped under-slip and white sneakers. At the Vintage Garden, Bandra, Mumbai.

That’s Pallavi, the mastermind behind THREE. She’s wearing a light grey semi-sheer shirt layered over a navy and white stripes slip dress – an outfit from her creation. In fact, everyone who passed by our stall, wanted to wear what Pallavi was wearing.

I mean, what better brand ambassador than the designer, herself, right?

Her clothes are a delightful mix of wrap jackets, thin-enough-to-be-sheer cotton shirts, long dresses with slits,  button-down skirts with attached pants and more.

Pallavi Dhyani wearing her own creation from THREE at the Vintage Garden. Her collection is fabricated from cotton and linen and has plenty of stripes. She wears her THREE jumpsuit with white sneakers.

Pallavi wears a comfy overall on the second day of the exhibition. Once again, everybody wanted to wear what she was wearing.

Ratna Gupta and Pallavi Dhyani pose in front of the RESTORIES stall. RESTORIES is Artist Ratna Gupta's pet project. As the name RESTORIES suggests, she upcycles ordinary everyday objects and converts them into stylish extraordinary designs for your home.

Neighbouring stall owner and artist Ratna Gupta wore a THREE playsuit. It wasn’t long before the jailer stripes-meets-daddy’s shirt vibe had engulfed everybody present.

Mansi Kadne wears a long slit dress from THREE and geometric jewellery from her own label, at the Vintage Garden, Mumbai.

Manasi Kadne, a jewellery designer wore this THREE slit-dress with her self-designed geometric jewellery. You can follow her super-fun jewellery brand  here.

Mansi Kadne wears a long slit dress from THREE and geometric jewellery from her own label, at the Vintage Garden, Bandra, Mumbai.

The fabrics are so comfortable to wear and so loose and flowing, that the sweltering Mumbai weather doesn’t just ask for THREE, it DEMANDS it.

I mean, look how actor, TV host and anchor, Kubra Sait pulls of her THREE creation. This slip dress can be wore with shorts underneath (like Kubra) or even layered under THREE‘s semi-sheer button-downs.

Actor, TV Host and Anchor, Kubra Sait wearing Three at the Vintage Garden. Three is a label by Fashion Designer, LFW regular and Pearl Academy graduate Pallavi Dhyani.

The vibe of the place was so happy. There was music, jokes and a lot of mutual admiration with people buying each other’s creations.

Here’s an example. Pallavi of THREE wears a Manasi Kadne nose stud. And Manasi wears a THREE dress. 😀

Pallavi Dhyani of THREE poses with Mansi Kadne. While Pallavi wears jewellery by Mansi Kadne, Mansi wears a dress from THREE clothing. At the Vintage Garden, Bandra, Mumbai.

Well, well, it was indeed a lot of fun. So many well-dressed people in one enclosed space! Wow. 😉

Here’s a glimpse of artist Ratna Gupta‘s brand – Restories.

The Vintage Garden | Bandra | Exhibition | 2016 | Ratna Gupta | Restories | Upcycling the ordinary into the extraordinary | Recycle | Product Design | Creative | Mumbai | People

She creates these extraordinary products by upcycling the ordinary and the everyday, into gorgeous, innovative designs.

Artist and Designer Ratna Gupta poses in front of her stall - RESTORIES, at the Vintage Garden, Bandra, Mumbai. She is wearing a playsuit designed by Pallavi Dhyani of Three.

Well, with this, I come to the end of this blog post. Hope you enjoyed going through it. 🙂

P.S: I managed to shift my luggage today. Yes. I started this a while back. :/

Have fun. Tomorrow is Friday. So yayiiiee. 😀 😀

Great Design at wholesale price? That’s Thieve.

We all know buying straight from wholesalers is cheap.

But isn’t it too much effort in real? And too dubious online?

So what if someone swooped out of nowhere and applied a couple of filters to the process?

What if, someone went to AliExpress.com (China’s largest direct buying portal) and put the awesome-est, most reliable products in one neatly designed space?

That is exactly what Tim Scullin’s Thieve is doing.

Curated by bloggers, photographers, designers and other creative people around the world, Thieve brings you designer products at ridiculously low prices. Plus only those products with really good reviews have been selected. Which means zero fakes.

And FREE or low shipping costs on these already low-priced designer products, makes these cool products even cooler.

So you can get yourself a delightfully designed product that is genuine and cheap, easily!

Thanks to  Tim Scullin’s Thieve.

Here are some of my favourites.

(Once you go to the link, click ‘VIEW ON ALI EXPRESS’ to buy)

  1. Colourful Pendant Light Socket | Know more here.

colourful pendant light socket

2. Men’s Quilted Duffle Bag | Know more here

Mens Quilted Duffle Bag

3. Genuine Leather Macbook Sleeve | Know more here

Macbook Leather Sleeve

4. Bamboo Handle Toothbrush | Know more here

Bamboo Handle Toothbrush

5. Wood Leather Watch | Know more here

Wood Leather Watch

6. Bamboo Wooden Sunglasses | Know more here

Bamboo Wooden Sunglasses

7. Canvas Hanging Hammock Chair | Know more here

Canvas Hanging Hammock Chair

8. Gold Antler Ring | Know more here

Gold Antler Ring

9. Moscow Mule Copper Mugs | Know more here

Moscow Mule Copper Mugs

10. Youth Embroidered Baseball Cap | Know more here

Youth Embroidered Baseball Cap

 

I love all of these products. And more. Especially as these are indeed one-of-a-kind.

So I suggest you go to Thieve and shop for your favourite products. There are games, clothes, lamps and a zillion other things, all handpicked by creative people. So, yes, it’s all in good taste. 😉

Moreover, the website’s neat design makes shopping and scrolling a joy. It indeed feels like a walk into a designer’s personal website. Think bright popping objects on white background and all. Truly, love at first sight.

In fact, now each time I have to find a gift for someone, I’m going to go to Thieve. It’s got stuff everybody would like to receive.

If you want to read more about Thieve, click here.

You can make collections, swipe left or right like Tinder, and get directed to shop some really cool designer stuff.

I hope you love Thieve, as much as I do. 🙂

If you want to know what else I like apart from the above, click here

 

The 10 best dressed everyday showstoppers

If you follow Chai High on Facebook, you’d know about this. For others, Everyday Showstoppers is an album I created on Facebook. An album populated with pictures of the best dressed men and women.

This post will compile the 10 best pictures of Everyday Showstoppers, Season I.

Those of you who haven’t been featured yet, don’t worry, Season II will be happening soon. 😉

 

  1. Me. Of course 😉 me2. Naina | Read the full article on Naina’s style herenaina3. Reemareema4. Azra
  2. azra_daily_style5. VedantVedant6. Sangeetasangeeta_daily_style

7. ShivendraShiv

8. Sarahsarah9. Rebeccarebecca

10. DipikaDipika

Well, with that we come to the end of the 10 best everyday showstoppers on Chai High.

Stay tuned for Season II.

🙂

 

 

10 outstanding examples of creative dressing

I am not a good photographer. At least not yet. Which is why, to illustrate my yarns of copy (yes, I love to write), I shall attach images borrowed from Indian blog wearabout. Beautifully shot by photographer Manouwearabout curates images of street style from Indian and Bhutan.

And I’d like to share some of these photographs to help you guys get an idea as to what I mean when I say “dress creatively”.

Check it out.

  1. Opposites attract | When Check met Floral

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What I love about her is how she has combined seemingly contrasting prints (checks and florals) and made it work so well together. Well, well, on first glance, most of us if asked if the two go together would undoubtedly exclaim, “Hell no!”.

Doesn’t hurt to experiment does it? Well, the results clearly show. The fitted vest balances the looseness of the anti-fit skirt/lungi.

Chai High Tip: Next time, think twice before you throw away that old wraparound.

2. Layer, layer on the wall

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He has worn a shirt. And then another shirt. And then wrapped a jacket around his waist. Wait, are those pants knit? Love his flair. Especially because, not many men can pull it off.

3. Because, Orange is the new black.

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Don’t shy away from wearing socks with pumps. See how it good it looks!

4. Comfy in a saree

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A striped blouse and a printed saree? OMG! One would never think, right? You’d be like, “Hey ,wear a hot-pink blouse. It’ll look epic.”

Thank God, she didn’t take your advice.

5. Flower girl

Here’s how to wear the midi skirt. Go today and buy one.

6. Librarian-chic

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Stern yet fun. Wine and purple and brown and white. Interesting colours. Interesting silhouettes. Interesting hair. Interesting expression.

Who said, dresses were just meant for “girly”girls?

7. Dark romance

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Dark slinky fabrics, a burgundy lip and Mary Janes. It’s like the girl-next-door just found her dark side.

8. Local inspiration

carolh3

No earrings. Just a chunky choker and a matching watch. Love the ethnic inspiration in this uptown look.

9. Sieves for style

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Nothing like a bright smile and happy shoes to lift up an outfit. The sieves? Well, she’s pulling it off!

10. “My sun and moon”

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Night-sky dress and a morning-light jacket. With a neckline that cuts through it all. “Small” women, when it comes to skimpy necklines, you’re blessed. So don’t take it for granted. 😉

_ _ _

Well, so with this gorgeous selection of images from wearabout, I’m sure you guys will now look at your wardrobe in a completely new light.

As for the people featured here, guys keep doing what you’re doing. Cause its working.

 

Until my next post.

Shivani

 

 

From the real world

naina00

If you’ve been reading my blog, chances are you’re wondering why I seem to be obsessed with “craft” and “creativity” in daily dressing.

And honestly, I don’t blame you. Apart from attaching a couple of links to some great labels and designers, I haven’t really shown you any real examples of women who dress well. Who put some thought into what they wear. And yet emerge looking effortless.

While “thoughtful-effortless fashion” may seem a tad oxymoronish, there’s a very strong difference between effort-fashion and thoughtful-fashion. The judge being the end result.

You could be wearing jeans and a tee and it could seem as though you put in a lot of effort and someone else could be dressed in a dress and tons of jewellery and still look effortless.

It all has to do with how you pull off what you’re wearing. If you pull it off, like its your second skin, you will look effortless.

One of my favourites quotes is “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.”

I wrote it on one of those days in 2014 when the amount of effort people were putting in their fashion (and still failing) was getting to me. (yeah, yeah, I get dramatic sometimes.)

Enough of the jargon, let’s see how Naina effortlessly pulls off this beautiful look.

naina

What I love about her is that she has combined contrasting elements and made it work so well. She’s borrowed a belt from a kurta and matched it to these lovely handcrafted beads and sandals. Her face is scrubbed clean, her hair tied back, and her bubbly personality – all the makeup she needs.

And the result is this well put-together outfit that’s effortless, breezy and oh-so-summery.

Girls, I am going to give you more examples of creativity in daily dressing, soon. Till then, get inspired from this lovely lady.

naina2

Love,

Shivani

 

 

 

 

Colouring outside the lines

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Most Indians seem to suffer from a serious lack of imagination, when it comes to everyday dressing.

Not that I am an expert.

I mean yes, crop tops are everywhere. BUT HELL, go easy on them. I am serious. My Pinterest page was full of them about two years back. And while the world has graduated to other forms of styles, India seems to have discovered crop tops and maxi dresses yesterday.

Why are we the laggards when it comes to fashion? Yeah, yeah, we have better things to concentrate on… Like inventing the Zero and landing on Mars, but a little experimentation wouldn’t hurt. Will it?
Instead of blindly borrowing the styles worn in the West and following them when propagated by our so-called-fashion magazines.
Why?
We only rely on fashion designers and the professionals to do the thinking.
Sarees are widely perceived to be ‘shaadi’ or ‘graduation’ worthy, thrown out of the work-culture with the polyester sheer shirt somehow being handed that advantage.
God I have begun to hate that shirt.
From the slimy streets of Bandra to the shimmering ‘hi-end’ malls, the racks are stacked with the Polyester Georgette Sheer shirt with metal buttons. Sheesh!
I wouldn’t hate it so much, if my colleagues and contemporaries teamed it with an interesting skirt or a hand painted stole. Or wore something that didn’t look so much like a signature copy-paste from a magazine or a TV show. I mean yes, we all need inspiration and we do look at celebrities and movies for interesting styles, but wouldn’t our world be a little more interesting if we just had a little more colour.
If people built their brands around themselves, and their clothes were the packaging?
And everything they wore hence forward would just be building blocks of the narrative on the journey that they, the human being as a brand, would build? I mean, people, GO OUT. Discover India. The world is knocking on our doors for we have the craziest and most awesome of crafts.
Try making a dress from a block printed fabric. Or even a crop top, if you insist.
Add a border… Not a thick one. Choose the narrow gold one, that gets lost in a sea of eye-hurting borders that your tailor chooses to unceremoniously heap onto the edge of that hideous Anarkali.
Wear some beads. Not the inglorious ones you see hanging from Forever 21 or Aldo.
Wait! I am not supposed to dictate these terms. So yeah, if the Forever 21 accessory department is you, go ahead.
Choose your beads. Handpick your stole. Scout the streets for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that you can play up or play down. Wear the sheer shirt if you must! Of course it’s not bad. JUST add some story to your outfit.
I mean we’re all born creative right? And it doesn’t hurt to look good.
Why must we all be a product in the mass-produced, heavily industrialised market of today, wearing what the export houses churn out in billions?
When Gandhiji said ‘spin’… he had a point.
When I say so, I have another.
Assert yourself through curating your look.
Assert your independence when it comes to style.
Stop following.
Start leading.

‘Effortless’ style and how to get to it.

Ok. So a lot of people comment on my “unique” sense of style. They say it’s distinct. A lot have even used the word “fashionable”. And of course, there are others who turn up their noses and coax me into wearing something more “normal”. Normal meaning tighter pants, asset-enhancing dresses and shinier Indian-wear.

That’s not “me”. My standard reply. And of course, people don’t get that. After all, how can a material thing be you? Come on Shivani, aren’t you “deeper” than that? How can your outfit be “you”… is what they’re probably thinking as they roll their eyes and smile disdainfully within.

1912032_10152177620796878_1524289218_oI’m wearing Skirt: Forever 21 | Jacket: Pret, GK-I | Boots: An exhibition at DLF mall, Vasant Kunj | Neckpiece: Lifestyle | Camisole: Lifestyle

Buying an outfit is an action. You pay money. Money that exchanges hands. That goes from the retailer right down to the dexterous eye that picked the fabric amongst hundreds of swatches.

The act of picking and choosing an outfit is literally paying homage to the designer who visualised the outfit, pattern-master who used his years of perfected skill to draft the pattern, the craftsman who laboured for hours on his sewing machine, no thought to trends or design, food for his family being the only motivation, and the smiling sales lady determined to not sit at home and be just a “wife”.

And yes, you could say that applies to every other thing we consume.

Maybe being a fashion student opened my eyes to the hard work that goes behind every glittering red carpet appearance that people so easily dub as “shallow”. The hours spent draping and re-draping an outfit, months before a Sonam Kapoor wears it to Cannes. The long hours spent by junior designers for a meagre salary, all justified because of their passion for fabrics, embroideries, craft and art. The multiple sampling and redo’s, the search for the right colour combination, fit and finish…

There is a story behind every outfit, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Which is why, what you wear could be an expression of you. It could be your way to show your support towards a certain striving group of talented professionals toiling to create a piece of art, that you’re going to strut around in.

Which is why, when I pick an outfit, I make an experience out of it. I touch the fabric, feel it, try it on… It’s not as easy as going to Hill Road and picking up a zillion tops just because they’re ‘cheap’. Though, I can’t deny there’s a charm in getting something stylish for less, but it should be driven by a quest for art rather than a mad scramble for a bargain. Or, that’s just how I feel. And I bet, others who you think have a “unique” sense of style feel.

We make an event out of our fashion. It’s something to be cherished. Which is why, owning a saree from your mother’s trousseau is so special. There’s a story to it. A legacy. Which is why, the dress you wore on a special date always holds a dear place in your heart. Which is why you never part with certain old t-shirts and warm mittens.

They’re special. And they deserve more than just a cursory glance. Which is why, each time you buy an outfit, you need to really feel it. To be it. Until you and the dress are one. United in that brief moment of passion. And not every store or boutique has the power to make you really connect with a dress, a top or a scarf.

11751878_10153380165531878_706715836365228757_nI’m wearing Maxi dress: Cottons Jaipur | Bag: New Market, Calcutta | Neckpiece: Lifestyle

I personally love plaids, loose silhouettes and natural fibres. I love clothes I can breathe in and float about. I like contrasting styles, textures and breaking mental blocks in daily dressing. I like glamming up a ‘sack’ of a dress with bright beads or giving it some seriousness by pairing it with brogues. I love baggy denims, oversized boots and ultimately breaking its androgyny with a fluttery chiffon top. I like playing with my outfits. I love walking into the big fat Indian wedding wearing a cotton backless choli with a Nagaland hand-woven skirt and a Kalimpang fabric as dupatta. And to arrive to raised eyebrows as everyone has piled on more glitter than they can handle! Ha Ha!

There’s beauty in fashion, no denying that. But there’s more beauty in being creative on your own. By carefully handpicking pieces that connect to you. And then putting it all together in a flawless display of art.

So enough of the jargon. Should we get down to business? Here are a few designers, brands and stores that I love. I have covered all price ranges and all kinds of looks for a holistic approach to dressing. Don’t claim you’ll find your “The One” here but no harm in looking. Right?


SHOPPING GUIDE

Cherry Fig | assorted

This Mumbai brand sources outfits from all over. Slashed labels, minor defects, Global brand redo’s… you get the drift. But, and I am serious, if you really look, you will find some adorable clothes. I got myself a faded plaid ‘Vero Moda’ dress, some quintessential ripped denim shorts and an embroidered mini dress. Needless to say, I am very happy with Cherry Fig.

Addresses:

Dr BR Ambedkar Rd, Pali Village, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050

Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050


Khara Kapas | for dresses and contemporary Indian wear

If you love cotton and long flowing silhouettes, this is the place to shop from. I haven’t bought anything yet (I am on a budget), but if you have money to spare and a style sense to create, here’s where you should go. I absolutely love everything on display.

blue_pink

Khara kapas

To shop Khara Kapas, click here

Mohh | for jewellery

Wedding or no wedding, festival or no festival, this collection of Indian-heritage inspired silver jewellery is going to leave you gasping for air. Yes, it’s that good. And I think Khara Kapas and Mohh are two brands that go well together. So, the next time you’re looking to give yourself a new look, you know what to do.

mohh

To shop Mohh, click here

Forever 21 | dresses and basics

Well well. It’s a cliché and you’re already probably shopping from here. But, I couldn’t help myself as I absolutely adore this brand. From basics to not-so-basics, their dresses and ganjis are just fabulous. The piles of clothing and jam-packed aisles may be a deterrent, but if you can muster up some courage and grab a bottle of cold water to keep dehydration in check, you will love what you get. In fact, even if something seems too blah at first, once you’ve got it, you will end up wearing your Forever 21 dress more often than any other dress. Just make sure you buy something simple and wearable rather than an over-short number that you’ll wear just once.

For instance, don’t you just love these plaid numbers?

forever 21

To shop Forever 21, click here

SSS OR Street Style Store | for shoes

Whether you’re on a budget or not, this is the place for shoes. I got myself a nude pair of Oxfords and they are extremely comfortable. And I paid just 700 bucks! It may take time to arrive and you may need to call them up a dozen times, but rest assured when it does come, it’ll all be worth it.

sss

To shop SSS, click here

Well, that’s all for now. Happy shopping. 🙂

Fashion. Style. And why rental is the hot, new way to nail the two.

Fashion. Hmm… what is it exactly? Art? Style? Or just plain advertising? Here’s what I think.

It is art at her vainest best, amidst trumpets, drums and all that finery. The sparkle of an earring, the shimmy of feathers, the rustle of silk…

It is Art’s dramatic outburst on stage. A tantrum that inspires millions. Crop tops, palazzos, leggings, culottes… A gust of wind that goes as swiftly as it comes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 1.04.38 pmPhotography by Saurabh Dua | Click here for more of Saurabh Dua’s work…

A stubborn bang of the judge’s gavel. Order, order. A summer fling, tugging at your heart-strings (and budget), until you’re exploding into 50 shades of desire. *Sigh* those butter-hued platforms

It is art that lasts a season. “The only thing constant in fashion is change.”

Fashion is art that cannot be ignored. Because it’s been worn, carried, walked-in or slung-on by your friend, neighbour, colleague or the boy you brought home…

Until finally… wait for it… finally you jump onto the bandwagon only to find your mother already there and heck, it’s too late to jump off now!

elle-india-5Editorial Photography by Tarun Vishwa for Elle IndiaClick here for his portfolio

Fashion doesn’t last. It is not an investment. Unless you’re purchasing it as Art. Then feel free to hang it in your living room mantelpiece out for display in all its lace and net glory, fast gathering dust. Visitors and guests can be encouraged to admire it for hours… Or not! Considering you wore it last year AND uploaded pictures for your 1079 Facebook friends to see.

In which case, you could choose to retire the once-in-vogue masterpiece to your gigantic walk-in closet, reserving an entire corner for ‘Costume Art’ or ‘Fashion’. Yes, doesn’t sound half bad, right? Except, that you probably don’t have a walk-in closet. 😛

13_04_2009_0289344001239576745_craig-mcdeanPhotography by Karen Elson |  Click here for her work

So what do you do with all those gorgeous, expensive once-‘in’ dresses already worn enough to make a collective impression?

Unless you’ve got a truly eclectic sense of style handed to a chosen few who can manage to snip, cut and transform old clothing into new styles, you’re stuck!

Which is why, fashion rental.

“Fashion doesn’t last. Style does”

While basics and classics can still be considered an investment, anything else qualifies to form a giant show-piece in the drawing room of your wardrobe.

So, yes go all out and buy white shirts, blue jeans and black tanks. For everything else, look to fashion rental.

11694142_1700654610170289_2756000955207278483_nRent this outfit on Flyrobe

Going out? Order a dress 3 hours before. Not sure if the midi skirt is right for you? Rent one to try out. Have a meeting to nail, date to impress or are just feeling happy, sad, excited or experimental, rent an on-trend outfit and get ready to feel heavenly.

Because, there is nothing more liberating than seeing a newer, happier and more empowered version of yourself.

And of course, the joy of an unlimited wardrobe online and a clutter-free one at home! 😉

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Some fashion rental sites you can check out:

FLYROBE  | http://flyrobe.com/#/home

SWISHLIST | http://www.swishlist.in/

KLOZEE | http://klozee.com/

SECRET WARDROBE | http://www.secretwardrobe.in/