I Wear: Saree Funk

I’ve adopted the saree as my new go-to garment. I mean, mum has such an awesome collection that my wardrobe quadrupled overnight! Quadrupled because the saree can be worn in so many different drapes and styles. I grew up watching mum deftly drape sarees of cotton, chiffon, georgette and silk for the nights out. And when I was tall enough, I’d play dress up with her cast-offs at home. The saree is as versatile as it can get – it spans the entire range from girly-frothy to staid lady to seductive temptress.

I’ve worn sarees as an adult – for college presentations and then it was relegated as my wedding guest attire. Here’s one instance that I wore it the ‘regular way‘ (I know the photo on the left is bad but I was being plagued by trolls at the time of posting and needed to preserve some shard of anonymity) and another where I funked it up.

full lehenga1

But I wanted more occasions and a broader spectrum of fabrics and colours to experiment with. So, I figured, why not do with the saree what people have been doing with the salwar-kameez for the last fifteen years? The salwar kameez has attained that hallowed individualised status where every woman picks a cut, colour, fabric, length, fit and style that suits her. The saree offers at least the same range of options, if not more.

My biggest problem has been finding a good tailor to stitch the kind of blouses I want. Still, this problem is a blessing in disguise, given that it gave me the idea to funk up my saree look with what was already in my wardrobe. Necessity being mother of invention and all, I dug out my fitted tops and teamed them up with my sarees. Here are some of the things I’ve been trying.

It started with this, on Independence Day, with a saree too transparent for mum to want to wear it. I wore it with a plain green sleeveless top.

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Then there’s the orange and white saree that found its soulmate in a red mock-halter top that I don’t really like wearing with jeans. I wore it in December, on a cool day, with a leather cross-body handbag and a shawl draped over one shoulder.

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This beautiful grey silk saree that mum picked up in Delhi worked like magic with a purple-and-grey tartan croptop.

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And emboldened by the success of the above, I dared to wear this on a cold evening out with the family – a turquoise corduroy blazer with a cream printed Moonga silk.

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A couple of other things that I’ve tried that I don’t have good pictures for here – a denim skivvy with a pale blue saree (see picture below), a white lace croptop with a green saree and a black studded leather top with a grey silk saree (this one I really wish I had a picture for!).

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Update: I wore this the very next week. A return to the traditional but funking it up by going retro. I believe this style was very popular in the 70s, especially among the pioneering careerwomen. It’s a Bengal cotton saree with a slinky, sleeveless blouse and the same cross-body leather handbag I’ve carried in the earlier pictures.

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The saree is really just a really long length of fabric. It’s really not very different from wearing an ankle-length skirt and a dupatta. Pins in the right places and some practice make it a perfectly comfortable outfit to wear. If you’ve mastered the basic pleats-at-waist and shoulder drape, there is a whole range of things you could do with it. Here’s your basic saree drape (yes, it really is as simple as they make it look):

I Wear: Hot Stuff!

I brought a handful of chillis to lunch.

Hot Stuff collage

For the past four years, I’ve been evolving from my identity as defined by my family, my job, my age and my background and transitioning into something that goes beyond these things. I find I like vibrancy, quirkiness and originality. I also enjoy comfort, prudence and practicality. These things reflect in my style.

The October heat is here and I was having lunch with friends over the weekend. Here’s what I wore – a typical ‘me’ look these days.

This is crepe dress with a heart-shaped cutout neckline and a vibrant chilli pepper print. I added a red belt for definition. Especially post the fracture, heels and otherwise insensible footwear are a no-no for me. Mercifully, I chanced upon the Clark’s brand that has seems to know sensible doesn’t mean ugly and *wonder of wonders* stocks in my size. Given all of this and the heat, I didn’t think I needed any further accessorizing than that watch.

I Wear:

  • Chilli print dress: Shibori, Rs.1550
  • Red belt: Local bazaar, Rs.100
  • Maroon sandals: Clark’s, Rs.1700
  • Tan leather handbag: Clark’s
  • Steel strap watch: Tissot

I Wear: Wedding Belle Or How To Spice Up The Saree

This is a from a wedding in the family. Well actually, the wedding of the best friend’s kid sister, both the girls being as close to me as blood-tied family, anyway. The wedding extended over a weekend and passed in a flurry of sweets, dancing, guests and ceremonies.

I wore my trademark kanjeevaram to the wedding ceremony. (See a previous occasion here). But for the evening’s reception, I decided to spice up the old saree style. After all, the saree is simply a length of cloth and it can be draped in many different ways.

The saree in question, is a cream silk that I’ve co-opted from mum’s collection. It is hand-painted with circular motifs, a border of fading splashes and a palluv with a Radha-Krishna theme. This usually goes with a black silk blouse with a gold border.

Instead, I decided to wear the saree like a lehenga and switched the blouse for a short silk kurti. The kurti is from FabIndia and has a simple red-and-white border to complement the saree. I pleated the saree with about an inch distance between the top of each pleat (instead of lining them all together), to give it a box pleats look.

My plan was to drape the saree in the regular way and just let the palluv fall down my right shoulder, instead of bringing it across the front to drape over my left shoulder. But the gorgeous palluv design would be lost in that drape. Letting the palluv down over the arm only looked dowdy. So I improvised at the last minute and brought the remaining length of the saree, meant for palluv across my front.

The palluv is actually bordered too with the splashey design, making the Radha Krishna design sit within a rectangular frame. I centered the design right in front of the pleats and tucked in at the waist, a bit higher than usual, so the box pleats would show below. The corners, I folded along their painted ends and tucked into the waistband too.

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A last minute addition to the look, was a silk dupatta, of the same material and colour scheme as the saree. I wore it over my left shoulder, something that confused a lot of the guests, since they couldn’t figure out what I was wearing, where it began or ended. :-)

I didn’t want to carry a clutch or a heavy handbag, considering all the running around I’d have to do. So I strung a cloth mini-jhola across my torso. It blended right into my top in the front and nestled comfortably under the dupatta on my right. A peek-a-boo flash would only reveal an intriguing little pocket on the side of the outfit, since it matched the colour scheme too.

What do you think?

I Wear: Oppum Dishpa Style

I spent a crazy five months jumping back into (and subsequently falling off) the ratrace. But it wasn’t without its moments. And people.

Dispha is one of those delightful ones that people never tell you about when they’re scaring you about the perils of working life – a colleague who can become a friend too. Her crazy baby shrug/smile (see first panel in the collage below) alternated with good commonsense made the worst of my days bearable.

Here she is in an outfit that I think perfectly personifies her – feminine but quirky, mad and yet smart. It was one of those days when we didn’t know whether it would be Pune-cold or mad dog Mumbai hot. Dishpa floated into office in a dress that might have looked like a nightie on someone else but didn’t on her. And a crazy, lacy bolero shrug over it. We took a little stroll after lunch and I caught some Dishpa moments:

Dishpa collage

Here’s what Dishpa wears:

  • Full-length dress: Mansi Shah, retailed at Marwar Exhibition, World Trade Center, Rs.2100
  • Lace bolero shrug: Vero Moda, Rs.2000
  • Beige mules:  Nine West, Rs.3-4000
  • Hair clip: Zuni, ~Rs.200

Dishpa 3

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

I Wear: Hipster In Progress

‘Hipster’ is a term I see thrown about in the Western pop-culture sources that I frequent. I’m yet to fully understand the meaning of this, especially in the Indian context so let’s just say my perceptions are evolving. From what I see, hipster isn’t a complimentary term. On the other hand, that’s probably just one viewpoint. Hippies were thought to be unsavory in the 70s but I’m pretty sure I’d have been a hippie had I been around then.

Hipster sounds to me, like a millennium-plus version of hippie and that’s not just because of the first three letters. Counter-culture? Rebellious? Intelligent but too cool to prove it? Ironic in a way that few people get? Fusion that clashes and complements all in one? Here’s my interpretation. The weather was cool enough to co-operate (read grey, skin-dulling and cold).

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Going by this infographic, my look is probably closest to 2004 but the scarf seems to put me closer to 2007. What do you think?

I Wear:Smiles

  • Blue and white tartan sweater: Athens flea market
  • White workshirt: Allen Solly
  • Black skinny trousers: Mango
  • Ladybird print neckscarf: Linking Road, Bandra
  • Zebra print canvas shoes: Lifestyle
  • Abstract brooch/scarf pin: Alfa, Irla market
  • Greek key earring: Athens flea market
  • Postbox red lipstick: Maybelline

* Also spotted on Divadom. Photographs shot by Adnan.

I Wear: Lady Red

I spotted a trinket seller on the train selling something interesting, something I realized could be the answer to what I’ve been style-lusting for, over a year over – a fascinator.

This is a big red confection of lace and cloth attached to a slim red headband. Isn’t it beeyootiful?? I still think so.

It’s been getting some pretty odd reactions. I wore it to a post-dinner coffee I had with Annkur the same night. He wouldn’t stop staring at it and talking to it instead of to me so I finally let him take this picture and took it off and put it on the table.

I wore it to work a couple of days later and people are still making jokes about it. In defiance (or call it pride), this picture is now my Twitter DP. I still think it looks gorgeous, no matter how many jokes I have to endure. After all, people said the same thing a decade ago when I started wearing scarves around my neck. Now that the hospitality industry has co-opted the trend, no one would think twice about it (and of course that means I’ve had to give it up!). So, once the world has caught up and everyone is wearing fascinators, remember you saw it here first.

Anyhoo, I had a chance to bring it out the very next week. It was Durga Puja after all and religious or not, I’m not going to let a chance to dress up and celebrate womenpower get away, am I? It was a stifling hot evening though and I knew I’d have to stand for a long time. Usha Uthup was performing and she’s worth enduring a suffocating October evening, mosquitoes and all, for. Here’s what I wore.

I fell in lurve, lurve, lurve with the top the minute I set my eyes on it. If the top were a man, I would marry it. It’s white, it’s cotton, it’s got self-embroidery, it’s FabIndia and it fits me in an age-and-style-appropriate manner – what more could I ask for? Trusty blue denims to go with, of course.

And the bag is a conductor-satchel from Esbeda, which brand I’d really given up on since they went all aunty-bling. This piece though caught my eye and made me walk in. It has a criss-cross pattern across the front, three compartments and is the exact size of an iPad which means it’s big enough for my stuff without being too big. Purrrrrrrfect!

And here’s my Lady Red look! After all, you don’t need to wallow in a colour (or an attitude) to wear it with style. And you don’t need a crown to call yourself a queen; sometimes even a flower will do.

I Wear:

  • Red flower fascinator: Train-seller, Rs.40
  • White embroidered spaghetti strapped top: FabIndia, ~Rs.1000
  • Green suede moccasins: Pavers, ~ Rs.800
  • Brown conductor-bag: Esbeda, Rs.1200
  • Basics – blue jeans, steel watch & girl-on-moon medallion.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

I Wear: The Blues Welcome Summer

This is something I put together in the middle of February when deliciously cool evenings and woefully warm afternoons were playing peek-a-boo with us. I’d worn a pullover the previous evening and as it turned out, I needed a jacket the next day but this cool little ensemble did signal the start of summer for me.

First, this adorable wraparound skirt from FabIndia. Most other wraparounds I’ve seen look quite sloppy and ill-cut. This one skips the ubiquitous too long straps and goes with buttons instead. Actually on the inside the two flaps fasten, not with ugly hooks or unsightly buttons, but little ties! No chafing of the thighs since they’re cloth, the same material as the skirt in fact.

It is a pretty awesome fit too, with no folds or bunching up. The skirt comes exactly to my knees which makes it neither teenybopper mini nor auntylike midi. It makes me feel classy and comfortable both in one.

My last note of eloquent waxing on the skirt is going to be about a little seen but delightful feature – POCKETS! Yes, this beauty also rids you of the need to carry unwieldy clutches because it has a neat little pocket hidden on either flap.

The top is another comfort/class staple I’ve had in my wardrobe for a few years actually. I haven’t worn it too much because it always felt too staid with jeans. Suddenly it doesn’t seem staid anymore, which I take to mean that I’ve grown into it, chronologically speaking and not sizewise. There is a neat little self-embroidery yoke which isn’t visible in this picture but take a look at the neck detail instead.

The only diva aspect of this look is the jewellery – silver danglers fitted with lapis lazuli stones. In the past few years, I’ve grown an affinity for certain semiprecious stones and this navy blue-flecked-with-gold stone is definitely one of them. Royal colours both of them and they look splendid even with modern styles.

Slip-on heels picked up on a whim and an anklet of glass beads just to dial up the whimsy.

Here’s me saying hi to summer. I Wear:

  • Pale blue cotton blouse:
  • Blue blockprint wraparound skirt: ~Rs.700, FabIndia
  • Lapis lazuli silver danglers: ~Rs.500, silver shop in Galleria, Hiranandani
  • Purple slipons: ~Rs.400, Lifestyle

* Cross posted to Divadom.

I Wear: Mad Men Mania!

There’s much that’s great about Mad Men – the story, the characters, the “Oh my God, it’s Lucky Strikes!” kind of references that have adpeople drooling. And then of course there are the clothes. Spanning the swirly skirts of the sixties to bellbottoms & miniskirts of the seventies (my favorite decade!), Mad Men is a visual delight. I’ve been lusting after the perfect polka-dotted full sleeved blouse for over a year now but haven’t found one as yet. None of the stores and few of my friends seem to get the reference.

So I was delighted to spot this lovely young lady at a blogger event last month. Radhika Sarin is a student and that day, she was tagging along with her sister, a style blogger. Seated further down the row, I didn’t notice it immediately. But when I saw her across the room at lunch, there was a distinct Betty Draper feel about her. Though having talked to her, I think she might be more Peggy Olsen (in attitude, not dressing). Now, before I get too Mad Men geeky on you, here’s the look:

Something about her face reminds me of Peggy Olsen, in the later seasons when she’s found herself a career and some confidence. But the dressing is very much the earlier seasons, more the Little Woman thing. And the print too – in her later, liberated avatar, I think Peggy prefers solids & geometrics to floral prints.

The length of the dress is a later decade too but again, I’m probably nitpicking. I love short dresses that flare out at the waist and end a little above the knee. They do wonders for the curvaceous Indian woman’s figure.

Getting off the Mad Men reference and back to Radhika’s look. The dress was a nice stiff material that held its shape and didn’t go over all floppy. It actually had a little ruffle running across the top and a zipper to match.

Radhika wore a pair of yellow-pink wooden bangles which offset the dress print wonderfully.

And on her feet were these:

Radhika wears:

  • Floral printed dress: Vero Moda
  • Bangles: Forever21
  • Sandals: Metro
  • Hairstyle: Hakim Aalim’s Hair & Tattoo lounge

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

I Wear: The Promise of Flowers

I want to believe that flowers bring me luck, good luck only. I want to enjoy wearing white jeans and not be thought tacky. I want to revel in the bright colours of summer without having to worry about heat stroke. Here’s all my summer desires captured in apparel and on camera.

Those jeans! White with brilliant blue colour splashes of flowers. And my crochetted pendant of course.

Reversing the code of nature, I top it with green (for the stalks of course).

Here’s bidding goodbye to summer and hoping the monsoon will turn all that promise into reality.

I Wear:

  • Pale green tee-shirt: Pantaloons, Rs.399
  • White jeans with blue flower print: Zara, Rs.4000
  • Grey moccasins: Enroute ~Rs.700
  • Crochetted pendant on turquoise chain: Self-made
  • Straw handbag

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

I Wear: A Mermaid On Land

This is the second of my acquisitions from the summer shopping spree. Like the inkblot top, this print too was available in a wide range of cuts and styles (including the one I picked in the inkblot print). I daresay the square cut of the inkblot top might have been interesting in this print and given that this fabric is soft & thin as opposed to the stiffer black & white, it would fall very differently. But I  was really drawn to the cool, swirly blue print and so the loose, flowing shirt/kurta seemed the best.

I had a chance to wear it the very next week. It was a hot day, one where I’d have to travel the length of the city, work for a few hours at a stretch and also fit in a salon appointment. I wanted to be comfortable and cool and this was perfect!

Jeans would have looked good with this top, especially since it has tails long enough to be tucked in. But it was too hot for denim. So I picked out this off-white cotton pair of drawstring pants, that mum got me awhile ago and that I’ve been waiting for summer to wear.

I love the comfort of drawstring pants but they tend to create a ‘muffin-top’ effect. So I let the top hang out loose.

Given the ultra casual vibe, I did feel the need for extra special accessories to keep this from looking like something I’d wear to a pajama party. I ditched my summer staple of earstuds for these dainty danglers from FabIndia. An unrelated aside – did you know talcum powder can work instant wonders on blackened silver? The pendant is a souvenir from my Goa trip last month and the Tibetan market that I chanced upon.

I had a salon appointment later, to rectify this horror inflicted on me by Enrich Matunga. And I decided to throw in a pedicure to pamper myself too. Here’s the before and after of my feet. The green gladiators are almost two years old and unimaginably comfortable. The glittery blue nailpaint was a whim to match my clothes and is what gave this post its name.

The haircut didn’t come off as well as the original but Tabu did a damn, fine job of getting it out of its mess. That’s her reflection in the mirror. What do you think?

And finally here’s the whole look:

I Wear:

  • Blue tie-dye sleeveless cotton shirt: Rs.799, Cotton World
  • Off-white drawstring pants:
  • Crisscross silver earrings: FabIndia
  • Eternity symbol silver pendant: Tibetan market, Calangute, Goa
  • Green strappy gladiators: Lifestyle
  • Haircut & pedicure: Enrich, Lokhandwala

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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