TO UNIVERSE, WITH LOVE

Buying for Keeps ( 2016 MVPs )

Posted on December 3, 2016

Since its the sale season, I am doing my bit in reflecting on my most worn items this year. It helps in my making better decisions. December is the month of temptations. Net-a-porter has a sale. I can not read any blog without it telling me what you buy for myself or for MY loved ones.  A shopping anthem possesses the internet. So let me not do that and talk about how I block out the noise.

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Crinkled items spewed on the floor :

Short Trench by Everlane ( second-hand, age : 7 months )

Blue dress by Madewell ( 3 yrs )

Brown Satchel by Campomaggi ( 7 yrs )

Brown Belt by Ralph Lauren ( second-hand, 3 yrs )

Workout Clothes by Lululemon ( 5 yrs )

Navy Silk Shirt by Everlane ( 2 yrs )

Black Loafers by Saint Laurent ( second-hand,  1 yr )

Black Flats by Jil Sanders ( 2 yrs )

Black Denim by R13 ( 1 yr )

Navy Cashmere Sweater by Everlane ( 8 months )

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Most Used Ten

Not everything I buy will become my most used but they should atleast contend for the spot right? Before any potential purchase, I ask the following questions :

  1. Is it ethically made ?
  2. Is it likely to join this list of most used items  (at some point in time ) ?
  3. Do I see myself wearing it 100 times ( I believe in wearing it down ).
  4. Do I see myself wearing it 3 years down the lane ( They need to be durable for me and I will be loyal to them ).
  5. Is it something that caught my eye today or have I been waiting for this to become more affordable ?

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My sale shopping haul

I usually buy things that needs replenishing every year during the thanksgiving sales. Its usually my years supply of skincare, innerwear and a pair of black ballet flats. I didnt stray. Not even a little bit. Here is what helped :

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Commit to what works : Personal Style above all

Shopping drains my energy. I have a signature style. Whenever I try to deviate from it, its a mistake. I end up wasting the item. Conclusion : Stick to what works. Getting dressed is not an end in itself, but a means to get on with the day.

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A closet has to be built.

I don’t really need to shop at all. But I do so because I am used to the excitement of adding a few new things a year to the mix. A few ‘fall-in-love’ finds per year is a good plan. As long as its ‘a few’. I have reached the end of my buying and closet building saga. I hereby declare my closet built !

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Understand the word ‘chic’

Its not a list of items that Jane Birkin wore or wearing only shades of gray. Its not what you buy, but how you buy. It’s a concept of “casual done well”. And simple high quality items purchased to be worn everyday. My purchasing habits changed once I understood this idea. Sale shopping should be an opportunity to pick up high quality everyday items which were previously a little too expensive. It should not be a reason to buy random pretty things because they became more affordable in the last two days ago.

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Craftsmanship matters

A purchase is only the start of the relationship with an item. You gotta love it. Take care of it. Wear it. And not get prematurely bored of it. In my experience, it helps if you know that the item was made by someone who knows the craft. You respect the process and the item more. There is pleasure in good design. The time, the skill and the labour that went into it … matters. All my purchases haven’t been cheap. They hurt, just a little. I know that in time, they will make it up to me.

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The idea of buying for keeps is still something I am working on. I make mistakes, let go of items before they are thread bare, seem to get bored of things that are durable and publicly complain on this blog if they are not durable.  I am hoping this year is the tipping point. I hate wasting the energy that goes into decluttering. While I can’t guarantee that something I purchased this year will age with me forever, I certainly do hope so. No more of the buy and cull cycle for me.  

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Any strategies that you use to resist sales ? Or any strategies you use to shop the sales ? 

Also, are MVPs what they technically call ‘closet staples’ ? Are you doing your yearly roundups ?

Thanksgiving ’16

Posted on November 24, 2016

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Story of this Life

I am most thankful for this guy and my parents. And for all the little fleeting moments. A reunion with our grad school mates and a long road trip is in the books for us this weekend. Perhaps some gluttony and puppy time – for the cherry on top. And a little detox from the internet.

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National Shopping Cup, I forfeit 

Its become normal to bump into acquaintances and have them casually ask ‘Any good deals ?’ Shopping becomes a sport this week and we watch America’s total spending like its election polling data. I would love to make buy-this-buy-that guides. Who doesn’t like giving free advice on the internet ? But I choose to not participate this year. I am opting out of the sale shopping madness. 2016 has been my turning point with least amount of store browsing and consumption. I have found peace. I don’t want to muddle the calm waters.

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Dear Readers

I have gotten to know a little about you and you probably have gotten to know a lot more about me. Thank you for reading, agreeing, disagreeing, conversing and commenting on this space. Without the interaction, this blog would be a one-women-ramble about some rather unimportant things. I go ahead and say some things I have no business saying on the internet because I think of myself as a pot stirrer. The intention has been to start a good conversation. And every comment contributes. It also prevents the blog from slipping into the narcism zone where I show what I wear or own. “I approve of vanity, but not narcism”, said Diana Vreeland. Me too Mrs Vreeland, me too !

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Happy Thanksgiving ! Cheers.

 

Can Gentlewoman wear Pink ?

Posted on November 19, 2016

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Move over Kinfolk, there is a new magazine to flaunt on gray countertops.

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As we hone into our personal style, we identify with a certain aesthetic and ideology. Some can easily be categorized : tomboy, French classic, bohemian, Scandi chic,… Most of us don’t fall into any of these buckets. If I were to label mine, it would be ‘gentlewoman’. Respect for quality and expert tailoring, a certain pared down aesthetic, utility inspired clothing, a reverence for everything Margaret Howell, wish list full of Celine, activism of Stella McCartney, women-first-clothes-later sort of idealism, love of neutrals, well-edited closets, basics morphed into rockstars, lots of men’s wear inspired classics, …  sum it up for me.  So, what about pink ? I have gone through an entire suite of judgements on this color. Call me a victim of cultural brainwashing, gender stereotyping, bra-burining-feminism and general lack of exposure to the world outside my bubble. Self pity aside, I can console myself on having lesser prejudices than a decade ago :

  1. (Age 10) : It belongs on barbie. Its for silly girls.
  2. (Age 13 ) : Its a muslim color. ( I apologize for this. I no longer think this way. I was uneducated and didnt travel. I was repeating what I heard, like a parrot. )
  3. (Age 15 ) : I hate pink. Its girly (meant like an insult). I avoid it at all cost. I am a tomboy ( like its a color preference ). I will become a scientist ( like its part of the curriculum ).
  4. (Age 20) : I wont wear pink. Never !
  5. ( Age 21 ) : Straight men shouldn’t wear pink.
  6. ( Age 22 ) : Men can wear pink.  ( America changed my mind. I met people from different nations and cultural backgrounds . Its just a color. )
  7. ( Age 25 ) : The saree I wore for my wedding reception was pink. I never wore pink before that day. My mother convinced me. I looked like an Indian bride.
  8. ( Age 26 ) : I buy a camera. It changed my life. I read ‘Tao of Photography‘. If you judge the morality of the characters in a book/movie, you can not appreciate the story. Un-relatable characters also have a story to tell. Imperfect flawed characters interacting can be very interesting. If you judge the elements in your shots, you will not do justice to the photograph. The camera taught me a lot about perspectives and life.
  9. ( Age 27 ) : Its a non neutral color. Like any other non neutral color, I will stay away or use in very tiny doses or an accent color.
  10. Currently : Its a nice color. I will wear pink if its the right shade. In small doses of-course ! I still dislike the way its marketed aggressively to little girls. I still dislike the Disney princess aesthetic.

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“the deeper freedom, I hope, is that of not being stuck inside a particular perspective, or thinking that your way is the right way. I worry sometimes that in an age when we’re lucky enough to have access to more cultures (and therefore more points of view and mind-sets) than ever, it’s easier to surround yourself with people who think and look just like you.”                           – Pico Iyer

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Dear California

Posted on November 13, 2016

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You are incredibly beautiful. Thanks to you, I get to live in a hub where people are driven by a passion to innovate and in vicinity of a dozen national parks. For the last 4 weekends, we have been packing our backpacks and spending a day or two in the forests that surround us. When we first got started exploring outdoors, it was about the milage of a hike or elevation of a climb or chasing a perfect photograph. But something in us changed over time. We slowed down and started to appreciate the beauty and let go of our pride in chasing the numbers. We now check out trails because we have been told of the numerous sage and bay leaf trees. A fragrant trail, yes please.  We do the unpopular trails for the solitude. We have been going back to our favorite places to explore better. The highlights of the month have been :

Fashion’s Obi-Wan Kenobi : Christophe Lemaire

Posted on November 12, 2016

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 The silhouette and the serenity of Lemaire

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Instrumental music is what drew me to fashion shows in the first place, way before I cared about fashion. Some of the highest paid DJ’s mix music for the luxury fashion houses during Fashion Week. Hermes always had some fantastic soundtracks and that is how I discovered Christophe Lemaire, the closet music buff. As it turns out, his clothes are even better. This is not an introduction to a blog post which ends with me showing what I purchased from Lemarie or a compilation of shopping links of what you should buy from Lemarie xUniqlo. He is one designer I adore without ever wanting anything he created. It’s possible. Yohji is another. Rei Kawakubo, Rick Owens, Alber Elbaz, … all brilliant craftsman. But wearing the same feathers is not a requisite to admire someone, is it ? Their minds are exquisite and I can always learn a little.

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I am creating a dictionary of StarWars association for every fashion designer I admire. I have someone in mind for most of the Jedi council. If Yohji is the Yoda, Lemaire could be Obi-Wan.

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In the Company of Women

Posted on November 9, 2016

On 11/9 :

I knew this was coming. Harsha was confident when the ballots closed yesterday. On the other hand, I couldn’t breathe. Trust the polls he said. I couldn’t. My sixth sense told me otherwise and its always right. I need something uplifting today. The long silences around me are numbing. I usually find solace in Lord of the Rings but none can be found today. I would have made a Jedi-had-to-go-into-hybernation sort of analogy from StarWars or loose-the-battle-win-the-war analogy from Game of Thrones but its not working. The ‘IT’ candidate has won. What does it mean for the country that opened its doors and let me in ? We will know soon enough. What does it mean for the the people who are facing the aftermath of climate change ? NatGeo has a prediction. And it breaks my heart. There is no point in my pondering over ‘why’ on repeat. Perhaps we already know why. Its time to get back to work and move forward.

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Something Uplifting

Let me take the time to cheer for a book I have been reading. Its newly published. It would make a great gift for anyone in your life who is a woman and/or aspires to run her own business/life. It contains interviews compiled by Grace Bonney, the founder of Design Sponge who is a creative mogul in her own right. She has collected some wise words from 100 women who have deserving tales to share from chasing their dreams. I picked a few favorite quotes to share. Making this post cheered me up. Hope it does the same to you.

– To Universe, with Love.

On Perfume

Posted on November 5, 2016

I looked for a perfume ad that doesn’t follow the formulae : a naked woman crawling on the floor. My search converged on to this shot by Peter Lindbergh. 

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When it comes to ones style, fragrance is as personal as it can get. You don’t buy it because your style muse wears it or a an internet influencer recommends it . We don’t like it because a celebrity endorses it or a gorgeous model stars in the campaign. The way they make perfume ads id certainly lost on me. A scantily clad bronzed girl sprawled on the floor is the formula. But why ? Perfume doesn’t work that way. Its pure in some sense. You like a scent or you dont. There is no snobbery in it. It can cost 2$ or 1400$. Can be a bottle from the drug store, a celebrity fragrance, a brain child of Roja Dove or a vial of oil gifted by a friend from the middle East. Only you and your nose can work together to pick one. You got to smell it in the air, smell it on yourself, and wait. Wait for it to mature over the day to see how it develops on your skin. Then, if you fall in love with it and people around you can stand it, great ! Some rules from by book :