How I, a 20-something girl, started wearing sarees to work

I almost missed my graduation ceremony because I was at the salon to get my saree draped. I didn’t trust the “eyebrow didi” (who had enthusiastically agreed to help every single girl who’d asked her in the days leading up to D-day) to find time for the relatively soft-spoken me. And I most definitely did not trust my mother’s off-white silk saree in the hands of my 21-year-old classmates who’d have a better chance of accidentally throwing the nine yards in a fictitious paper shredder than managing to get halfway through a draping exercise. So, I ended up missing my batch photograph, and just about made it to collect my certificate and award.

Five years later, today, I can (almost) drape a saree in my sleep and get through a day without fearing a minor wardrobe malfunction every time I have to do a little more than breathe. So, what brought about this shift? Apart from an all-prevailing boredom with the contents of my closet (yes, really), an innate need to experiment with my look, and one of Anavila’s earlier shows (where linen sarees actually looked super comfy!), it was an admiration of the simple elegance with which the Maharashtrian ladies on the local trains carried themselves; their neatly parted hair, gajras, gold hoops and sensibly draped sarees (no floating pallus, please) inspired in me the need to emulate their effortless aesthetic. I found myself wanting to normalise the act of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, to put it in the same league as a bright floral dress or a pair of jeans.

This combined with a lifetime of admiring my mother every time she emerged from her boudoir in a saree, and having two grandmothers with diverse aesthetics—fluttering chiffons and ornate, heirloom jewellery on one side, and starched kota sarees with pearls on the other—helped nudge me into the saree-wearing world armed with a mishmash aesthetic that, I believe, is clearly my own.

Around the same time as I was beginning to consider the possibility of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, I was just about finding my personal sense of style. Increasingly, I was gravitating towards handlooms, linens, and cottons, with skirts and dresses tailored out of traditional textiles and weaves. A trial of one of my mother’s Bhutanese skirts brought about this shift—I had nothing to wear one time, and she happily lent a skirt to me, mainly because it was a far cry from the shorter lengths I would sport at the time. Reminiscent of lungis, straight cut and ankle length, my mother’s “skirts” could be considered the transitional outfit that helped ease me into wearing a saree.

It took me several attempts of putting on a saree only to discard it seconds after, till I mustered up the courage to ignore the nagging feeling of doubt and reach work. As expected, the initial reaction in a legging and denim-wearing world was, “Puja at home?” But when I told them no, I wore this of my own accord, to mix things up, the response was heart-warming. I was bombarded with compliments all day, with people going as far as saying I should wear sarees every day! By the end, I was encouraged, and my confidence was at an all-time high. “I can do this”, I thought to myself.

I started my saree-wearing journey with a single white cotton. Within a few months, I had added a black version to the mix. A year later, my school friend decided to gift me a black and white cotton saree. Now, I knew, I was a saree wearer! Soon, I was rummaging through my mother’s closet, picking up hand-painted and hand-embroidered versions that had been handed down to her by her mother. I realised, I had a “type”. Dull, “ugly”, sarees, that no one my age would be caught dead in!

What helped in normalising the saree, was making the drape as comfortable as possible. Think shorter lengths, pinned pleats and compact pallus that could be swung around, teamed with loose blouses or tank tops for a relaxed, easy vibe. Also, staying as close to my everyday slightly-undone aesthetic—messy hair and everything—helped me feel like me, by emphasising that I had not been airlifted from a puja and dropped off at work. With time, I got bolder, and added sneakers and bright socks to the mix (such fun!).

People still tell me “Only you can pull it off”, to which I tell them, “So can you”, not out of politeness, but because I strongly believe everyone can take a saree and make it their own. For me, simple cottons work well, because I tend to add interest with sneakers and a random hairdo. For you, bright printed chiffons with Grecian sandals and poker straight hair, may work wonders. Or a starched kota with a crisp and sheer organza blouse and leather broguesOr a plain georgette saree with a matching georgette blouse and simple thong sandals. But you have to try it to believe it.

Once you find your very own kind of everyday-friendly drape, you’ll find yourself looking grudgingly at denims and leggings, dresses will no longer occupy prime real estate in your wardrobe, and a whole new world will open up in the form of frilly petticoats, crop tops, statement blouses that double up as underpinnings for a solid saree, and jewellery! You’ll begin to see every new trend in the context of a saree. Soon, questions like this will fill your mind: Can I team a corset belt with a crepe saree? Can I wear an off-shoulder, peasant top with a simple mul saree? Can I add ruffles to my blouse? And, just like that, you will have one more option to choose from, every morning. And who amongst us, apart from the Steve Jobs-inspired, does not want yet another outfit choice?


 

 

In defence of the “ugly” dress

The uglier the better.

Every wardrobe should have at least one ugly dress. The long, loose kind, that hangs on your frame reminiscent of a scarecrow wearing your grandma’s faded nightgown. You know, for those days when you feel particularly lazy to rack your brains on what shirt goes with what skirt.

The ugly dress covers flab. The ugly dress allows you to overeat. The ugly dress allows you to run on the platform when you’re just about missing your train, without fear of ripping your skintight jeans, dropping a strap and having a minor wardrobe malfunction in the face of 100 creepy train travellers.

The ugly dress makes you look “prettier” than you really are. The ugly dress is so ugly that anything compared to it looks stunning. So, even if you feel like shit, when you put on your ugly dress, instantly you will feel better – after all you can’t be “uglier” than this dress can you?

The key to buying an “ugly” dress is to buy one that’s a few notches below you on the looks scale. By which I mean – a dress that won’t steal your thunder. When people see you, your dress won’t be the first thing they see. Instead, the focus will be on your face. That’s the best thing about the ugly dress – it’s completely missable.

The ugly dress comes in ugly colours. Like yellow ochre, mud brown, rusty red, algae green; earthy hues.  Extremely flattering especially when you darken your eyes with some kohl, and enhance your natural lip colour with a lip jelly that changes colour with your lip temperature and ph. The ugly dress is great for those fuss-free days when you aren’t in the mood to dress sharp, yet want to feel beautiful.

The ugly dress can also be made pretty. With silver jewellery and pretty sandals. Then, you can take the dress out for brunch. It can also be made sporty – with a pair of white converse sneakers, in which case you’re fully equipped to race against time to catch an about-to-depart train or flight.

So, the next time you’re out shopping, don’t let your eyes gravitate towards the shimmering pinks and delicate laces. Instead look out for the rugged, sensible cotton counter, with the ultra-ugly printed dresses.

Happy shopping. 🙂

 

 

Dear Designers – Here’s some inspiration for 2017.

Hello People-who-want-to-design-something-but-don’t-know-what,

I’ve been in your boat. A boat lost in the Pinterest sea. So many pretty ideas. But which one to choose?

I have been attempting to design a few Indian outfits to wear to weddings – since everybody has suddenly decided to get married in the first half of 2017. And while my Masterji like all Masterjis is being a bit of a tantrum queen, a glimpse at his creations sort of makes it worth the wait.

Since frills and ruffles are going to be big in 2017, why not incorporate these elements into your Indian outfit?

2017 Trends | Inspiration for Fashion Designers | Fashion Design Ideas | Fashion Week Inspo | Pinterest Fashion Ideas | Design your dream saree and lehenga blouse | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

A little layer here, a flounce there, and you’ve got a lehenga that transcends cultures.

2017 Trends | Inspiration for Fashion Designers | Fashion Design Ideas | Fashion Week Inspo | Pinterest Fashion Ideas | Design your dream saree and lehenga | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan | Bridal Trends | Wedding Fashion Ideas

Embroideries on dresses are back. Especially the interplay of embellishment with sheers and overlaying it on strategically placed opaques.

Embroideries | Filling Stitch | Satin Stitch | Colourful Embroidery on Black | 2017 Trends | Inspiration for Fashion Designers | Fashion Design Ideas | Fashion Week Inspo | Pinterest Fashion Ideas | Design your dream saree and lehenga | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan | Bridal Trends | Wedding Fashion Ideas

Mixed textures are the rage, be it in the form of applique, or pairing contrasting fabrics together.

Fabrics | Mixed Textures | Embroideries | Embellishments | Indianwear | Indian Designers | 2017 Trends | Inspiration for Fashion Designers | Fashion Design Ideas | Fashion Week Inspo | Pinterest Fashion Ideas | Design your dream saree and lehenga | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan | Bridal Trends | Wedding Fashion Ideas

The off-shoulder trend ruled the western world. And while Manish Malhotra and Payal Singhal have brought it to India, a lot of scope for experimentation still remains.

Off-shoulder | Cold shoulder | Shoulder show | Frills | Indian off shoulder blouses | Saree Blouse Inspiration | Ethnicwear | Traditional clothes | Embellished blouses | Manish Malhotra |  Indianwear | Indian Designers | 2017 Trends | Inspiration for Fashion Designers | Fashion Design Ideas | Fashion Week Inspo | Pinterest Fashion Ideas | Design your dream saree and lehenga | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan | Bridal Trends | Wedding Fashion Ideas

There’s tons of inspiration out there. But sometimes, you need someone to put it all in order.

Someone like me. 😉

Have a fun weekend.

 

 

In case you’re bored and want to shop…

Hi people,

So I am back with my edit of shopping suggestions and this time, the list focuses on two websites that I recently discovered. It’s almost like a “What would Shivani buy – Part II” except that Who am I kidding – I can’t afford it. Yes… yes, they aren’t expensive but when you make little and pay a lot of rent, you really have to count every buck.

Moving on, here are some things I discovered that I couldn’t help but share with you guys.

Denim Halter Dress, Nicobar

Buy here for Rs. 4800

Wear this Denim Halter Dress with Tan lace-up boots found on Vajor.com

Buy here for Rs. 1990

Tan Lace-up boots by Vajor.com | Fabric detailing | Textile | Derby Lacing | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Chanderi Shirt Dress, Nicobar

Buy here for Rs. 7200

Huhu Dress, Nicobar

Buy here for Rs. 3800

Huhu pale blue-green dress found on Nicobar.com | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Wear the Huhu Dress with these Sequinned White Sneakers found on Vajor.com

Buy here for Rs. 2250

Sequinned White Sneakers | Embellished White Sneakers | Pureskin | Vajor.com | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Ashwani Chanderi Dress, Nicobar

Buy here for Rs. 5200

An ivory coloured cotton-silk chanderi dress found on Nicobar | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Try wearing this gorgeous number with these sandals found on Vajor.com

Buy the Oxblood here and the Candy Pink here for Rs. 179o.

 

Lastly, two more outfits that I sort of found interesting…

Jumpsuit with Ikat Detailing | Vajor.com

Buy it here for Rs. 2790

Black Jumpsuit with an Ikat Yoke found on Vajor.com | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Printed Skirt | Vajor.com

Buy it here for Rs. 1375

Printed Pencil Skirt found on Vajor.com | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Well, hope you liked this edit.

Happy Shopping 🙂

 

 

 

 

What a shopping trip is like when you’re broke.

Today I stepped out for a run. But ended up going to Forever 21 instead. (Don’t say it – I know – it’s silly). It started off quite ordinarily. After watching quarter an episode of The Good Wife on Netflix and downing two mugs of tea, I suddenly realised that if I didn’t step outside now, it would be too late. Daylight would’ve disappeared. So I changed into my sneakers and shorts, almost didn’t take my wallet (which on second thoughts would’ve been much smarter) and bounced outdoors.

Once I was actually out on the street, I got this sudden itch to spend money – which is surprising as I am literally in debt with most of my recent purchases being on a credit card. However, I thought – a few steps in the crisp, fresh November air may inspire me to stick to the healthier original plan. So I continued walking towards the park. The itch, sadly, was a stubborn one. I couldn’t walk it off. And by the time I reached the corner, I found myself hailing an autorickshaw – “Bhaiya, Infinity Malad?” And fate decided to take me on with a slight nod to the affirmative.

I sat in the rickety rickshaw, my thoughts racing. What do I do once I reached Forever 21? Shop or just browse? What if I actually liked something? Shit, that would suck as I can’t afford it. What do I do when I am back home? Maybe I should finally start writing the book I’ve been meaning to write for the last gazillion years. The book about love. But what part of love? My first boyfriend? Current boyfriend? But, I have no clue on how it all turns out! Should I assume? No. I should concentrate on what’s elapsed. Finish a story that’s already finished. This happened and then this and finally this. Oh, but would people want to read it? And what if it sounds too rushed? Maybe I should just stick to an incident and elaborate every little detail. Maybe, I should add a hint of magical realism like Murakami? But what? Murakami’s books are mostly metaphors about uniting with your dark side or shadow. What would my books be about? I need to discover something and then use metaphors to explain it. What have I discovered?

And like this, my brain raced on and on and before I knew it, me and my auto were speeding along a windy backroad that ran parallel along a sewage drain. For a brief moment, I thought we were near the sea but the black colour gave the drain away. What a disappointment. A sea would’ve been the perfect sign for me to begin work on the book. Romance. Possibility. Freedom.

The auto screeches to a halt near Forever 21. I get off and rush to the women’s loo. I find a stall that seems it’s about to get vacant any second -a brush against the flimsy door somehow seemed to me an indication of pants being being pulled up clumsily – however I was wrong and the lady in my stall decided to have a nice, long dump.


I got to Forever 21 and the first thing that caught my eye was a faux leather button-down miniskirt. Love at first sight. My mind began racing – I would team it with a t-shirt and a boyfriend shirt. Or a vest for a night out. And  I found myself throwing it in the black mesh bag, an overenthusiastic sales person handed me.

The collection was very streetstyle inspired – hence I was in love with it. There were jackets – military, bomber, trench-style, fluffy, straight – all kinds. And there were skirts – corduroy, military, pink georgette, rust hued. The bralets and bustiers didn’t fit well – so I didn’t pick up any- I wanted to wear one with a saree. However, the skirts were lovely. Boots were a colossal disappointment – they had barely anything that fit my large feet. Plus the designs were very blah.

Anyway, after a bunch of clothes I tried, I ended up buying nothing.The faux leather skirt was awesome – but was I really going to travel in a local train looking like a goth-inspired monkey? Nah. So, reluctantly I placed it back on the shelf I’d borrowed it from.

A lady walked over to me, “Ma’am, would you like me to find you another size?” “No, I murmured, I am just putting it back” How could I explain to her that the skirt fit me like a glove and how I wish it had been too big or too small so my heart wouldn’t tear when I placed it back like that?

So, sheepishly I hailed another rickshaw. And took an hour reaching home. Evening traffic.

A run would’ve been more fulfilling after all.

 

Dress like Kangana – Look 1

So yesterday, a couple of us were talking about celebrities, plastic surgery and what we’d like to change about ourselves, you know, the usual, and the topic landed on Kangana Ranaut. We all agreed on how much we love her, though for different reasons, and I heard myself say, “I like her dressing sense.” Someone nodded, someone disagreed, you know the works, but since I was relatively free and the Google Search button was looking at me invitingly, I typed in, “Kangana Airport style” and sure enough a couple of images popped up – looks like others had searched for it as well. And I was astonished at how much I love the way she dresses – which is a lot I can say for celebs – Except Sonam Kapoor – I love how she dresses.

Anyway, so I pulled out 9 looks of Kangana’s that i absolutely adore and I was going to post them all, but then it struck me, “What if I do a bit of research and help people get the look?”

So, here’s the first look I have created. Hope you love it.

Get Kangana's look on Kharakapas.com, H&M India, StreetStyleStore.com and Amazon.in | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan
I took the liberty to borrow Kangana’s image from http://6degree.co/

Keep dressing well, people. 🙂

 

What would Shivani buy? 8 things to shop right away.

Hello people,

I know I’ve been away for quite sometime. Been  busy with stuff. Something really exciting is underway. (Shhh. Tell you about that later.)

For now, here’s a Chai High guide to WHAT TO SHOP this week. Here’s a quick look at everything that’s caught my eye in the affordable fashion market.

 

What: White cotton sleep shirt

Where: Buy in online here.

How much: Rs. 1790

White Nightshirt by The Label Life | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Cotton off-shoulder dress

Where: Buy in online here. 

How much: Rs. 2140

Pinstripe off shoulder dress by The Label Life | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Basic black tee

Where: Buy it in the H&M store

How much: Rs. 699

Tip: It looks blah, but trust me, it will go a long way. Wear it tucked-in with all your skirts.

Basic black tee by H&M | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Organic Cotton Box Shirt

Where: Buy it online here.

How much: Rs. 1600

A box shirt in a subdued lilac hue and wispy organic cotton by The Summer House | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Organic Cotton Pleated Midi Dress

Where: Buy it online here.

How much: Rs. 2600

A cloudy blue, organic cotton pleated midi dress by The Summer House | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Organic Cotton Night Shirt

Where: Buy it online here.

How much: Rs. 2800

An organic cotton nightshirt by The Summer House | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Off-shoulder cotton top

Where: Buy it online here.

How much: Rs. 750

Off-shoulder top from Spring Break | Chai High is an Indian fashion blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

What: Backless maxi dress

Where: Buy it online here.

How much: Rs. 1490

A backless maxi dress by The Spring Break | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Well, that’s all for today.

Happy Shopping. 🙂