An Ode to the Old Favourties

Posted on April 22, 2017

” Oh this old thing ? They are finally getting broken in. Aren’t they gorgeous? “

Rescued by shoe polish every week. I can get 100 more wears out of them.

Its difficult to convey in words as to why I find worn in clothing beautiful. Been trying to write it down but can’t seem to succeed. There is a familiarity. There is a warmth. There is a sense of loyalty. There is a quality of earthiness to it. The way you look at the bark of the tree and don’t complain about the scratches on wood. When they say “Valar Morghulis” (all men must die) in Game Of Thronesthere is a sense of siege the moment and accept the inevitable in those words. The sense of comradeship in the reply Valar Dohaeris ( all men must serve ) is most apt. I also see it as an antidote to the youth obsessed culture of apologizing for every pimple and calling out on every wrinkle.

Closet Inspiration : Sara Berman

Posted on April 21, 2017

Source : Read the full article here. Her closet is currently on display at the MET museum ! Closets now have cultural significance? Interesting times we live in, right ?

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The right amount for her.  Very elegant. Reeks of orderliness. If I were to judge from the closet, she is the woman who knows her mind and is in control of her life. She buys exactly what she needs and works for her. She has a strong sense of personal style. 

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Things carefully chosen and cherished.

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Useful objects adorn the shelves.

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Her closet is primarily white. I want mine to be army green, red, blue, gray and black with white shelving. I want all of my books on fashion, shoes, handbags, my camera, this watercolor, perfume, jewelry box, an olive tree branch in a vase, … – in my ideal closet. And this amount of orderliness.

Style Notes

On an Ideal Closet

When you live in a 400 sft cottage, every addition is a matter of optimizing the space. It’s a miracle that we keep our home in order. When we were apartment hunting, I vetoed this place straight away. There is no way I can fit in here, I declared. But a chance to live in the nature that surrounds it, made me accept the challenge. It was the start of my journey to simplify my life. When my home is in order, I feel better. Perhaps I inherited 5% of my mother’s compulsiveness, which is still too much for me to handle. There have been days when I left work early to clean my house. I actually enjoy laundry and organizing my closet … because … look at the beautiful things in it !  My current 4 ft by 4 ft closet has all my spring/summer clothes hanging with space between the hangers. This is my litmus test of not having too much – space between the hangers.

My closet isn’t a minimal one. It’s more medium size one with about 42 items of clothing in it excluding shoes, accessories, pjs and workout clothing. Yes, its very uncool but I counted. (Wardrobe inventory post coming next week). Reducing my closet down to some popular random number isnt a priority to me. After spending a year or two competing with the minimalist Jhonses and convincing myself that I was an evil person pillaging the planet, I quit. I did try to write down what makes my ideal closet :

  1. Enough space. Ease of finding clothing. Ease of pairing what’s in it. Peace of mind.
  2. Having enough to rotate through so that my favorites don’t wear out too soon.
  3. Don’t have so much that your favorites don’t get worn enough. How can I appreciate something that gets used twice a year?
  4. All the items in my closet are my favorites.
  5. Having something to wear for every situation life throws at me. Gardening, Warriors basketball game, work, teaching, conference, freezing temperatures, play dates with pets, backpacking expeditions, day hikes, Indian wedding, Indian family gatherings, cocktail party, Xmas formal gathering, visiting a brewery with friends, house party, lounge day, …
  6. Have nothing that I dislike but am anchored to (out of guilt).
  7. My ideal ratios: ( 80% timeless classics, 20% contemporary pieces. ) ( 40% blue, 40% black, 20% accent colors.) ( 80% casual, 10% dressy, 10% Indian. )
  8. Lots of accessories.
  9. Quality and versatility are non-negotiable.
  10. Vintage treasures.

At this point in time, I am not concerned with owning N items per season. I am in no race to get rid of anything in there to hit an arbitrary number. My needs are different. I am more concerned about NOT prematurely discarding 10 of them and eventually buying 10 new items to refill the void. Getting most wear out of a clothing item and wearing it through the end of its life cycle is more of a priority. For the first time in my adult life, I am deeply content with my wardrobe and happy about my personal style. Learning to accessorize made the biggest difference. The same people who have told me I dress boring have been telling me that I can make the simplest of clothing look good. Not that I need external validation, but I am no island. It feels like a victory to be able to do my own thing and be appreciated for it.


Question :

Have you arrived at your idea of an ideal closet ? Have you arrived at your ideal closet? Is the ideal closet a mythical concept or an attainable one?

From my interaction in the comments, I get a feeling that none of you are big shoppers and are very happy with your closets.

True / False ?

Outfit : Inheritance and Loss

Posted on April 16, 2017

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Men’s Shawl: Inherited. 100% wool. 

Black wool shirt-dress: Stella McCartney, purchased second hand. 

Ballet flats: Frye. Their ‘burnt red’ is an exquisite shade.

Location : My fav tree on Mt.Hamilton. 

Still reading : Secrets of Sommeliers. This book makes me appreciate wine the way Richard Feynman talks about beauty

Tune on Repeat : Charlie (malayalam movie) OST #5

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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Style Notes

My Grandfather

The shawl was a present to him from my mother when she visited Delhi, India’s capital city in 1980. He didnt cherish things but respected them. He wore it until the day he died two years ago.

His uniform : Crisp white cotton kurtha and pancha with no distinction between day wear and evening wear. He didnt associate brocades and silks with elegance. He saw it as excess. He in fact asked his daughters to give up the traditional clothing and wear menswear inspired clothing. They were repulsed and horrified by the idea. ‘His suggestions were too Coco Chanel in a society that liked its voluminous gowns and ruffles’ as my aunt puts it.

He wouldn’t approve of my shoe closet. I know it. “How many feet do you think you have”, he would have asked. If I shop less, he might approve of this blog.

I asked for the shawl and my grandma let me have it. How could she part with it? She mumbled something about how she wants the shawl to become a swaddle blanket for my future baby in his memory.

This dress worn as an Indian salwar kameez .

Walking around town with a shawl isn’t exactly a practical outfit choice. I don’t like or wear beige. But clothing has never been just about utility or sustainability for me. I don’t own a cardigan. I use this shawl to wrap myself when I work at my desk.

My 5-year-old nephew has a superman cape that he wears and runs around at his top speed. This shawl is my superman cape. I want to be like my grandfather.


Request:

What’s your grandpa like? Please share a story if you can.

The Vintage Bag

Posted on April 14, 2017

Balenciaga Le Dix

Bag : Balenciaga. Price: 280$.

Consignment Store: Goodbyes, San Francisco, California.

Bags that competed for the spot in my closet :  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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Style Notes

Bag Shopping ( sigh ! )

Ideally, I want a Hermes Kelly. But I am not in the income bracket that can afford it. Even if I saved for it, not sure I can spend the money when it comes to it. Don’t know how I feel about Kelly inspired bags. That left me with my only choice: a vintage bag. This shape was popular back in the day.

It’s not in pristine condition. The stains on the back, I could get them out with some leather cleaner. The sagging on one side –> I put a small book on the back and it stands up straight. I suspect the bag was not stuffed on the inside when in storage. I will take it to my leather expert and get it reinforced. I plan to mend my bag and make it perfect.

This is a bag I can afford. I haven’t been treating it like a baby. If I scratch it, I won’t fret about it. If it sags some more, I won’t welcome it. But I will accept it. I can afford to use it like a sac, which it is.

I am not for bags as status symbols or precious objects. I used to own a Proenza Schouler PS1. It was very expensive for me. I could buy it but couldn’t afford it. Every scratch and sag caused me anxiety. I sold it away because I didn’t want to live like that. My closet should work for me, not the other way round.

When I saw this bag, I gasped. It is exactly as melodramatic as it sounds.

I am rather good at second-hand shopping < pats her self on the back >. I had a learning curve which wasn’t pretty but I got here.

A structured bag feels a world different from the brown satchel I was using. It’s very prim and proper. Things stay in place. It’s easy to find the keys. I can use it for evenings out.

Another first for me: a bag with feet and a solid base. It sits up straight like an elegant lady when I put it down.

“Are you sure it’s vintage, it doesn’t look 20+ years old”, says my aunt Renu. I don’t know. I am going with the story I was told in the store.

The flap closure : I have been warned by you guys about how impractical it can be. I agree. I never handled a Kelly to compare. But my bag needs two hands to be closed. Its only a month old and I am still very enamored. If the novelty wears off in a few months, I might complain about the closure … just a little. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


Question :

I don’t like bag shopping.

They are expensive. They are not easy to sell or buy. There is too much pressure to get it right. I have no leather expertise. I for one, want to use a bag as a sac in which you put your stuff and lug it around. Get it dirty. Put it on the floor. Get it scratched. Stuff it up when needed. Not think of resale value. Not caring about the bag is what makes it a luxury bag in my book. The ultimate luxury is when you buy a quality item, can forget the price, use the heck out of it and find pleasure in it even after years of usage.

Do you like bag shopping?

Outfit : Navy Shirt Dress

Posted on April 8, 2017

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Blue Dress : StevenAlan, bought secondhand. Red Flats : Frye  Cuff : D&H Jewelers

Location : Our first home together, after 6 years of long distance relationship, on Mt. Hamilton. Instead of using a white wall for background, I want to record all of my favorite spots on the mountain.

Currently Reading : Secrets of Sommeliers. ( Fine wine meets beautiful story telling. I feel like I am sitting in on intimate conversations in wonderful vineyards when I read the pages. Didn’t know you could tell everything about a wine from just the color and smell ! )

Tune on Repeat : Statues, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Style Notes

BIRTHDAYS !

The 30’s metabolism kicked in and I feel my age. (I turned 32 this week.) My body sized up in the last year. I am glad that I built my closet around boyfriend shirting, jeans with stretch and shift dresses. Those silhouettes are weight change friendly.

Personal style definitely is a privilege of age. When younger, I didn’t have the confidence to stand my ground and state my preferences. ( I now think I am overconfident looking at the nasty things I say on this blog.) I finally learnt how to shop and how not shop. After years of good and bad choices, the good ones paid off. I declare my closet built ! I finally learnt the nuances of applying makeup. Found my shade of red lipstick. Found a signature perfume. Style wise, I welcome age. Energy wise, not so much but regular exercise helps.

On my birthday, I wore a blue dress. Everything else felt inappropriate and not worthy.

My bold statement combination : navy mixed with red.

As a kid, I would get a new outfit on my birthday. I think I followed that tradition every year till now. My old blue dress outshone everything else I could have wanted. I have been waiting to break into cotton dresses and the Californian weather finally granted my wish. I needed the trench to survive the rainy evening.

A picture of this dress worn on a short hike near our home.

Upon some investigation, I got to know that none of my blue dresses were dyed naturally. I really want to try my hand at indigo dying. For a brief while, I considered getting a second hand white dress and dying it indigo as weekend project. I could dye it a lighter shade of blue, wear it for a few days and change the shade to a darker tone until I find the perfect blue. But in the end, I didn’t need another dress. Maybe next year !

Cinco, the cat, got me a snail for a present whom I photographed (featured) and let go. (He usually gets me mice and lizards.) We ate dal at home and drank sake on the side to celebrate. #aMovableFeast


Question :

Do you find it silly that I talk about bday clothing like a child would ? Do you get excited about your birthday assuming you are no longer a teenager … Do you wear your absolute favorite item of clothing too, on your birthday ? When is your birthday ?

Guest Post : Lakshmi’s Style Essay

Posted on April 7, 2017

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Editor’s Introduction : Every time you comment and share something about yourself, I build a mental image of you from the information you share. My image of Lakshmi is that of Latika in yellow scarf. I read a new comment, and I imagine her writing it while wearing a yellow kurtha while sitting in her garden. I imagine her closet to have gorgeous colorful and simply cut Indian clothing that she cherishes. She is the image of the modern Indian woman who lives in the city, juggles household duties and her work, can stand up for herself and is opinionated. Here is an essay she shared :


I believe that personal style is an extension of who you are. Sounds very obvious, doesn’t it? I fervently believe that everything we do in the outer world is a natural and spontaneous expression of our inner self. Call this my personal hypothesis, a pet theory, a life philosophy. Knowing oneself can seem like a monumental task. People spend a lifetime searching. They seek help from enlightened masters, ancient teachings and practices, wisdom in books and scriptures. Does this mean that good style can only dawn, post enlightenment? Not really. Knowing oneself may be easier than you think. One can embark on the path of self-knowledge in many ways. As you gains greater clarity and insight, life changes inside out. Appearance, mental make-up, perspective, outward action, expression, relationships… all of it. So here I am, curious and introspective, a little more aware of myself than before, and naturally that knowledge manifests in my lifestyle choices, relationships, future dreams, etc… Including personal style.

OOTD, A Satire

Posted on April 1, 2017

Hello lovely readers. Hope your week is going well. If you follow my instagram, you know how busy I have been. The dreadful weather wasn’t doing me any favors. It was chilly for the last few weeks and finally the sun is out. I am excited for spring and the new clothes. I showed my purchases on Snapchat and you guys loved it. I was asked on tumblr on ideas to pair them by my followers and decided to post a picture of my outfit to show you how its done. The pictures are not staged and are totally spontaneous. I was snapped crossing the street while I was going about my day by my Instagram husband.

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*Illustration : The Unknown Hipster