Tag Archives: Style

I Wear: Lightweight Indian

I am a fan of Indianwear, primarily for its prints and fabrics. But the cuts and styles don’t suit me well, given that I don’t have traditional Indian features (tall frame, lean body, pointed chin, small eyes, prominent cheekbones). Most traditional Indianwear tends to swamp me in fabric or metal/stones. That’s why I rarely wear Indian designs in jewellery. I’ve also been a very infrequent wearer of salwar-kameezes. But in the past decade, I’ve found my own balance, my own ways to customise what’s available and suit it to my look. After all, Indian fabrics and prints really do suit Indian skintones and the weather better than any other.

So here’s one look:

* This video was shot by Reema Prasanna.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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I Wear: Indian Wedding

*This is a sponsored post.

Two of my friends got married this week. I attended a ceremony that lasted over 6 hours, included a pheras-around-fire ritual, several small in-family practices, a wedding dinner and reception. And this was actually an Indian Wedding Lite. I didn’t have much time to dress or even plan what I’d wear, considering it was a speed tracked wedding (7 days to organise, invite and conduct!). Also, it was in the middle of a  weekday in oppressive, pre-monsoon June in Mumbai.

I went to my saree cupboard, of course. Sarees are my staple wedding wear. And the past year of saree experimentation have given me a mean confidence about a quick drape. I picked out an old favourite, my first ever Kanjeevaram saree, actually. I chose this one because its blue/green colour would be different from the traditional red/pink/purple hues that dominate Indian wedding guest attire. Also, with its stripy design and brown-gold border, it defies the kanjeevaram tradition of plain hues with gold buttis and  border.

I’ve been struggling to find good blouse alternatives for sarees and the last year has been full of experimenting with tee-shirts, croptops and even a blazer once. But for a wedding, I wanted to go a little more traditional (convention having being defied adequately in choice of saree). I wore a chilli green readymade silk blouse that I found available under a brand called Ethnicity. The fit is good, the colours vibrant and the design, just the right blend of saucy and conventional.

And finally (or rather, primarily), the accessories. The jewellery would have to be gold or close (I went with minakari) to match the saree border. My regular steel strapped watch would clash with the gold/yellow/brown tones. My latest timepiece came in handy. I have a new Jord Woodwatch in an unusual Cherry wood shade. It went beautifully with my attire. The watch is entirely made of wood, including its strap so it didn’t conflict with the material/fabric ensemble either. Here’s how I looked:


I Wear:

  • Blue-green striped kanjeevaram saree: Nalli, Chennai
  • Chilli green silk readymade blouse: Ethinicity (available in InOrbit mall)
  • Minakari jewellery: Central Cottage Emporium, New Delhi
  • Woodwatch: Ely Series (Cherry), JORD

*JORD wood watches can be ordered at their online store. The one I’m wearing in the photograph is here.ely-11-front-angled


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: 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: Red And Gold

Dressing for the day often begins with one thing – an item of apparel, a colour, a fabric or even an accessory. The rest of the look is built around that point.

The newest addition to my closet is a handbag, a gift from the boy’s mum. As he gave it to me, he cast a wary gaze at my red tote and asked,

“You aren’t…terribly attached to that bag, are you?”

I laughed and told him a new bag was always delightful. He looked mystified. Ah well, the things a man will never understand about a woman! Sure enough, when I called his mum to thank her and tell her she needn’t have gone to the trouble, she just said,

“Shopping is always a pleasure!”

🙂 Cue rerun of mystified look.

So here’s what my bag collection looks like at the moment: A big lime-green Rhysetta handbag, the aforementioned red tote from Baggit (my favorite), a brown leather satchel and an identical black one (both used in my corporate days), a purple square bag from Esbeda, cloth bags from EcoFrendz (featured on I Style!), a kantha-embroidered jhola and sundry clutches of the neon-coloured plastic variety. (No, the boy still wouldn’t understand)

If there’s one thing the wardrobe has been lacking, it’s a dignified-not-boring, coloured-not-whacky bag. The colourful stuff has been fun to carry around and matches most of my looks. The staid brown and black are the ‘safe’ options for work and such occasions. But this new bag fits neatly in between.

It’s a sort of dusty rose coloured leather. My mum would probably call it cherry tan though I’ve never seen either a fruit or a skin colored that way. It’s a comfortable foot by foot-and-half size which makes it perfect for a day out (wallet, keys, handkerchief, make-up, water bottle, scarf, book, iPod). The flap has white criss-cross stitching over it which would have stood out starkly on a darker colour or yellowed in a dirty way on a white/cream bag. On this however, it blends in just right creating a subtle contrast with the rest of the bag without being in your face about it. The fittings are matted gold and include zippers down each pocket, a magnetic fastener and handle rings. In addition, a lock embellishment hangs down the front flap. To my surprise, I found a similarly themed key attached to the inner zip which fits this lock perfectly!

Now the colour proved to be a challenge for me. Red being my favorite colour, dusty rose would normally be a snap for me. But my look is usually silver (oxidized or polished), wood or plastic. Gold isn’t my usual theme but I liked the muted look of this one and how it added to the colour of the bag, so I set my brain to work.

It wasn’t long before I realised I already had several articles of the red-and-gold persuasion which had faced similar dilemmas earlier and hence hadn’t seen much use. I just put all of them together.

I started with a red wraparound skirt with bright prints and adorned by gold sequins (which catch the light when I move but make it a difficult garment to match with anything else).

This I paired with a muted gold mock turtleneck I once received as a gift and never had much call to wear (for the same reason). This top with its zipper that goes all the way up the front to the neck feels rather awkward, like it’s caught in an identity crisis between sportswear and glamour. Also, I’m not sure the gold fabric goes well with a silver zipper or with my complexion.

To break that up, I kept the zipper lower, opening out the flaps to look like a collar. To this, I added a bead-and-metal neckpiece bought from Delhi’s Tibetan market, years ago. A word on this necklace – I’d drooled over those exotic items of jewelery for years before I finally bought one. Once home, I realised that everything else I wore look drab in comparison. Yet another gold-coloured item relegated to the ‘someday I’ll figure out how to wear it’ pile!

My first choice of footwear was brown suede boots. But considering the drama of the neckpiece and the bright skirt, I thought that would be too much. I settled instead for my trusty red snakeskin sandals. Here’s how it turned out.

I wear:

  • Red wraparound skirt, embroidered & embellished: Lokhandwala market
  • Gold zippered top: unbranded, somewhere in the US
  • Dusty rose leather handbag: Suede, Kolkata
  • Red and gold neckpiece: Tibetan market, New Delhi
  • Red snakeskin sandals: JMC (nice designs, high prices, zero durableness, horrible service)

Cross-posted at Divadom.

I Wear: Coffee And Sunshine

You know what’s the best thing about being on a sabbatical/freelancing/independently employed? Apart from the being able to sleep in on a Monday, walk on the beach in the middle of the day, catch movies at more reasonable rates on weekday afternoons, spend more time with family, friends and whatever else..? Yes, there’s one other thing. It’s being able to wear exactly what I please, when I please!

I’ve always loved colour. I have a thing for stuff that doesn’t commonly show up in my environment like boots (oh, way before every filmi type made it popular and with heels…ack!), scarves (no, that’s not a rasta mawaali style!), headgear, funky jewellery et al. I Style! was an attempt to capture similar moments in other people’s lives. But my life, when it’s up to me is like this all the time! And now, it truly is up to me. I revel in the fact that I am not bound to black/blue/grey or trousers/salwar kameezes.

I guess I really am indulging the long repressed chick in myself. I’m not really a big shopper. But there’s plenty of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years (yeah, I’m a packrat) and I enjoy experimenting with different, innovative ways to wear them.

So, it occurs to me, that this (like so much else in my life) lends itself to a series of posts too. Here’s presenting a new section then. I toyed around with various names. Idiva? Naa, that sounds like Apple launched a brand of clothing. I’ll settle for I Wear. Feel free to boo and hiss at my lack of imagination…only if you have a better suggestion.

First up, this is a month of sales as shops try to get rid of their Christmas/New Year stocks. It’s a great time to go shopping. Footwear is a major thing with me and not because I’m an SATC fan. I have rather large feet which means finding a comfortable and nice-looking pair that will fit me is difficult. This means, I shop when I find something in my size and not when I need a pair.

I’ve been seeing this pair on the shelves of Catwalk for ages now and wondered who’d have the nerve to try them on, let alone actually buy them. My theory proved right since they were available in every size in the clearance sale….even mine! The boy insisted on buying them for me as a late Christmas gift, even if he had to suppress a shudder. They make me SMILE though! Take a look:

They’re made of orange elastic straps woven together with shiny silver threads. The soles are rubber and of the sort that line the light slip-ons that the bigger sportswear brands sell. They’re immensely comfortable and if they didn’t make so many people look my way on account of their colour, I’d probably forget I was wearing them at all!

Of course, finding the right look for an unusually striking pair of footwear like that is tricky. Since the shoes are so brightly coloured (and blingy to boot), I downplayed the rest of the look. Here’s what I wore today, to meet a friend for coffee.

Navy blue tee-shirt with old, old, you-wont-believe-how-old pale green cordruoy trousers. The outfit still looked blah ending with a huh?! at my feet. So I added my favorite accessory of this season – a shawl/scarf. Mumbai is having a rare winter, chill enough anyway to protect my sensitive neck/throat. This is a silky-cotton shawl thingy that was available in heaps at every street stall, a few years back. I have a whole stack of them. This particular one is made of big squares of yellow, orange, brown, red and blue. It doesn’t go with most of my clothes but it was a perfect match with this outfit.

I flung it over my neck like a dupatta, brought the ends back around and knotted them down the front. I think they add an element of interest to the upper half of the outfit. The neutral trousers give one’s eyes time to adjust before they’re snapped up by the shoes again.

I went minimal on the accessories, wearing just my steel watch (not seen in this pic) and thin silver hoops in my ears. And my bag was a plain beige cotton tote with black straps (featured on I Style! earlier). Overall, I thought the effect was colourful but not outrageous (my usual style). Even so, Moksh gave me a puzzled look and asked,

You dressed up to come meet me for coffee?

Oh well, dress the way you feel. I was happy on this gray evening and my attire showed it!

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

Retail Therapy

Today, I accompanied E Vestigio across the city. When I say across, I mean literally across. In the space of 6 hours, I’ve passed dug-up roads, flyovers, under-rail subways, main roads, a highway, bylanes and market roads. I’ve been inside a mall, foodcourt, chain store branches, thronged a bazaar, hunted down an inner-lane shop and bargained with roadside vendors. We started at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon East and worked our way south-westward ending at Santacruz station market.

Now ostensibly, today’s trip was her agenda, with routes, destinations and shopping lists laid out in careful detail. So how is it that I find I’m now in possession of three new handbags, two pairs of sandals, a ring, a bangle, an almost tee-shirt (returned for reasons we won’t get into now) and three packs of to-fry cheese fingers?

Let’s see, there was Inc.5 with whom my only experience so far has been these delightful creatures. If I hoped for a repeat of that, I was rather lured away by E’s more sensible and stable choices. I rather regret not picking up the omelette-yellow sandals.

Then there was the mannequin wearing a tee-shirt depicting ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ display signs, the kind you see on toilet doors in malls. Of course I had to check it out. I saw a really cool racer-back with a print of ghungroo-clad feet. Voila! It fit! It was only after I paid and looked at the bill, did I realize that I’d been charged about a third more than what was on the price tag. The salesgirl sniffed and stated pointedly that the price tag showed the material cost while any print was extra. E came to my rescue (or perhaps kept me from throwing a shopper-tantrum and screaming my head off). The tee was returned and we left. Oh well, the print wasn’t that great and anyway I can paint it on myself. Huh.

We lunched in the foodcourt, the largest, most varied one I’ve ever seen and it prompted me to exclaim,

The only other place I’ve seen such a food court is in Heathrow airport!!

Oberoi Mall has successfully pulled off what none of its earlier counterparts in the areas could. It combines the cool of the western suburbs’ InOrbit while also catering to the more ethno-diverse population in the eastern suburbs. Town be damned, Mumbai’s disposable income is never more visible than in the suburban malls. There is a certain new-money loudness in these places. There is also a refreshing lack of world-weary cynicism. E gushed and gushed about the food court before capturing our mood with,

Such simple things make us joyful, no?

Yes, indeed. We remember shopping centers, neighborhood kiranas and restaurant food. Malls, food courts and glitzy stores are still a big, very big deal in our lives.

As we were leaving, I just had to check out Rhysetta. Esbeda introduced me to colourful-but-classy bags; it was good to find another brand that offered the same. I was intrigued by a bright yellow bag with a black handle. The sunshine colour seems to have been my theme today. E very pointedly said,

If you wear them all together, you’ll be a dirty fellow.

…which of course meant I had to take the green instead. It’s neon green, not a dull/sensible colour by any stretch but I’m still rather in lustful desire with that yellow bag. Maybe I’ll trip back tomorrow to do an exchange. (Forgive me E, you’re just going to wear sunglasses when you see me next!!)

There was a black sequined bag I almost bought except that its strap looked more like a fracture-cast bandage on my arm than the mock-bracelet it was supposed to be. Undeterred, I stopped at another bag shop while E walked into the FabIndia. None of my shortlisted choices met with her approval though, so I walked out purchaseless. FabIndia, on the other hand, never failing to please, put me in possession of two bags. One is blue raw silk with buttis print and metal kadas for handles. The other is a black silk with buttis and looks like an open envelope. How could I *not* buy those?! Money is to be made so it can be spent on such wonderful things (okay, after the basic necessities).

The bazaars outside stations are throwbacks to creditcardless student days of raste-ka-maal-saste-mein bargains. My loss of the yellow sandals still smarted so instead we made up by buying two pairs of gladiators, one black-with-metal riveting dominatrix and the other brown-with-bronze buckles sensible chic. E’s superb bargaining ensured these two cost me less than the price of that one yellow pair.

And when all of this was done, I had burned off enough of calories and water-atoms to be ravenous. So I picked up the cheese sticks for dinner.

Yes, it all makes sense in retrospect. Try telling that to my wallet, though.

E thanked me at the end of the day for accompanying her on her errands. I said, “No, thank you. I had so much fun!!” Now I think she should thank me again. You see, when I shop on my own, I usually know what I want and how, where and for how much I want to buy it.

But malls, display windows and charming streetside sellers aren’t designed for people like that. They are focused, diabolical strategies to target unsuspecting people who haven’t really been intending to buy anything at all!! A good friend isn’t someone who puts up with bad roads, horrible weather and crowded stores with you. All of that is part of the thrill of shopping. A good friend is the one who is willing to take that final risk of putting herself in the eye of the marketer’s fire. It’s really like being on a diet and agreeing to walk through the diary products section of the store with your friend who wants to get to green veggies on the other side!

But this is all said in jest. At the end of the day, my toes hurt, my scalp feels itchy from all the dust and my face muscles feel like they’re sagging along with my limbs. But I’ve had an uncommonly long chat with a good friend, laughing, discussing serious stuff, being silly, grumbling about men, work, life and such, bitching about prices, brands, styles and other people. E Vestigio, poppet, thank you, love.

I feel good. Retail therapy? Maybe it does work after all.

Ideart: Rose Garden

This is part of my series on fabric painting (after Peacock and Kathakali). But this was actually painted much earlier than those two.

I had this terrycot shirt checked orange and white. The overall effect was a sort of mustard. It’s not a colour I’ve ever been fond of or one that flatters me. Painting it was a rather delayed decision since it doesn’t occur to one intuitively to paint over something that already has a pattern on it. But I realized that the pattern was neither overwhelming nor highly visible. And it would serve perfectly well as a background.

I used several pictures of roses to figure out the basic geometric shapes and swirl-patterns that I’d need to use. It turned out to be surprisingly easy. I started with a round wavy shape (like little kids drawings of flowers) using black paint (Fevicryl no.02 Black). Then I added more waves and curlicues inside it. After that it’s just a matter of colouring and adding leaves.

The painting was actually loads of fun, the messy, splashy way. I made blobs of the basic red paint (Fevicryl no.39 Carmine) on the fabric. Then before it was dry, I daubed on the shimmery pink (Fevicryl no.303 Pearl Pin). The pink was probably an older bottle so it had gone a little creamier while the red, newer was liquidey. The net effect was that the pink stood on its own but blurred into the red at the edges to give a lovely shaded effect. I waited for these to dry before outlining and highlighting in black again.

The leaves were done using a similar principle – outlined in black, filled in with basic green (Fevicryl no.06 Dark Green) and daubed with the shimmery green (Fevicryl no.357 Pearl Metallic Green). And finally redefined with black once that was dry.

The details came in later. I added hairfine strokes of black to show the stems. Tiny buds with triangle-shaped leaves in blue (Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue); these were done with  a thin brush dipped in colour and then pressed flat down on the cloth. These were given yellow (Fevicryl no.302 Pearl Lemon Yellow) centers. The leaf veins were lined with bronze (Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze).

I started intending to only paint the back since it had an unbroken visage (the front has buttons all the way down so it’s difficult to do one contiuous painting). Then it looked so good that I added some detail in the front to match the theme.


The front detailing is not uniform copy of the back. While the back is just one pattern of roses scattered all over, the front shows a rose-trellis creeping up on one side and small bouquet-like collection of flowers on the other side that look like they’ve been plucked off the plant and dropped on the ground.


On the same side, I added a tiny rosebud and leaf detail on the collar.


Garment: Waist-length shirt with short sleeves and collar

Material: Terrycot with tartan texture

Background colour: Orange-brown with white threads running through

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black
  • Fevicryl no.39 Carmine
  • Fevicryl no.303 Pearl Pink
  • Fevicryl no.06 Dark Green
  • Fevicryl no.357 Pearl Metallic Green
  • Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze
  • Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue
  • Fevicryl no.302 Pearl Lemon Yellow

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

The Tee-shirt For Women – Zoozoo Merchandise

The tee-shirt has long been standard youth apparel, worldover. Over the years, its fan base has extended outward and most people can claim to own at least a tee-shirt or two.

How do you wear your tee-shirt? Plain or prints? Bold colours, stark white or neutrals? On the front, the back or both? With a slogan, a picture, a photograph or a brand? Collared or round-necked? Half sleeves, short sleeves, the sleeveless ganji version or a ustad-ishtyle roll up? The tee-shirt is a personalized style statement that says something about the kind of person you are.

I’m afraid the women have been left rather behind in the tee-shirt movement. If like me, you don’t enjoy being a hoarding for a brand, you rule out the standard Levis, Nike, Reebok and so on. Then you end up being limited to extra-cutesy teddy-bear prints and Powerpuff Girl chic. Tantra may have brought in tongue-in-chic humour to tee-shirts but they’re quite clearly targeted at men.

That’s as far as the print and designs go. In terms of the fit, you have to shell out a high sum to pick up a well-fitting tee-shirt at one of the higher-end department stores. Some of my friends and I would scout the children’s section for tee-shirts that didn’t make us look like poles inside tent sacking. Unfortunately the best of those would still end up stretched wide across the bust and hanging out loose near the waist.

I daresay women’s wear in tee-shirts is so severely restricted that the concept of a well-fitted, smart tee-shirt is foreign to us. We either wear the badly fitted ones that invariably develop cracks in the rubber prints to too much stretching or we hobble about in tents that look like dad’s hand-me-downs. Since the latter is more common, a woman in a tee-shirt can almost safely be assumed to be unconcerned about her looks or lounging about at home. Tee-shirts aren’t really the well-dressed woman’s attire which is a pity, considering just how versatile they are.

So all in all, the concept of a tee-shirt, especially one that promotes a brand, doesn’t generally excite me. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised at the *launch of the Zoozoo merchandise line, a few weeks ago.

Line up

You may love them or you may detest the little bald white characters playing out different mini-scenarios in the ads while shrewdly alluding to the Vodafone services. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in this city who doesn’t know the Zoozoos or more importantly, have an opinion on them.

As a brand icon, the Zoozoo has probably been the classiest offering from Vodafone. Someone in there is sure doing their job well as they’ve picked up on the popularity to extend the range further. The Zoozoos are the first ever Indian-grown brand ambassadors for Vodafone to be considered for merchandising.

There are separate lines for men and women, both in unusual colours. The print shows Zoozoos in various actions and poses with a witty caption. I like the fact that the focus is on the cheeky humour element of the Zoozoo and not on the Vodafone brand itself. There are no marketing messages, nothing at all in fact about the brand.

Zoozoo pun

I was particularly impressed by the cut and style of the tee-shirt. These aren’t the mass-produced square-cut tee-shirts with factory-stamped prints on them. These are tee-shirts tailored for the female body, designed to flatter the form. The colours are pretty attractive too, ranging from fuchsia pink, slate grey, sky blue, lemon yellow, white and black. The men’s range has the regular navy, black, white but also a striking chilli-green and a rust-orange. The women’s range is available in S, M and L while men’s wear is in M, L and XL.

I’m rather partial to the Zoozoo prints on the men’s line (“Zoozoo rockstar” depicting a Zoozoo bending over a microphone) but the women’s range is fairly good too.

And finally the best part of the line is how affordable it is. The standard thick cotton versions are available at Rs.299 while the more slender, softer fabric is for Rs.399. I’ve only mine for a couple of weeks but the fabric looks like it’s durable.

The Zoozoo merchandise is retailed at all Shoppers Stop outlets.

Inexpensive, well-fitted, nicely coloured and with a fun print – I’d say that’s a perfect tee-shirt! Vodafone certainly got it right (for once) with their Zoozoo merchandise.

*The launch was brought to me by The Social Media Catalyst.

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