This post is my answer to the previous post ‘Do you dress like your tribe?’. My tribe is my friends and family. Here is a part of mine – my mother and grandma. We have our own idiosyncrasies and grew into our selves with time. We don’t dress alike but really enjoy each other’s style. My grandma takes her sartorial pleasures seriously. She accentuates her favorite features and takes immense pleasure in dressing up. To me, my mother is drop dead gorgeous and everything looks great on her. I really like it when she wears red, blue and green. But she prefers beige and brown. My mom loves dressing me up. She has spend the time stitching and embroidering my clothing in the past. Whenever we meet, we go into each others closets and investigate. She once sulked for an entire hour when I wouldn’t let her re-oraganize my closet, when she visited me in Arizona a few years ago. I don’t think my grandma likes the way I dress but she keeps it to herself. Here are a few of our outfits :

.

grandma

Green Saree: She bought it 30 years ago for her daughter’s wedding. It has real silver threads woven in. She claims that they don’t make such (quality) clothes anymore.

Peach Saree : Mangalagiri cotton.

Scarf : Borrowed from me. A men’s Brunello Cucinelli scarf thrifted by me. I may have given her first taste of cashmere. Infact, she liked it so much that she said “so what if its second-hand ! Its nice “. Before-scarf, she was disgusted that I buy second hand.

.

img_8846

Florescent yellow saree : khadi cotton. Location: Great-grand-ma’s home in our village.

.

అమ్మమ్మ ( Grandma )

She is the bold and ‘passionate’ dresser. Loves her colors, weaves, jewellry and prints. Wearing glass bangles is her thing and she has a huge collection. Since my grandpa passed away, tradition demands that she stop wearing her colorful bangles and she did give them up. She makes an effort to look nice everyday and I never see her in ‘lounge’ type of clothing. Elegance is not something you turn on and off. She is the doll of the family – we love dressing her up. She obliges. She willingly poses for me when I pull out the camera.

.

img_8396 Saree: Pochampalli cotton. Shawl : Kashmiri wool.

.

img_8479-2

Saree: Crepe silk .

.

img_4005

With aunt ( at a wedding). They both raised me. They are bffs.

.

img_7149

Her evening wear collection : silk sarees from Kanchivaram & Uppada. The bottom most saree is her wedding saree.

.

అమ్మ ( Mom )

If you send her into a store, her eyes will filter out all the beige/brown clothes and see nothing else. And beige is what she wears on an everyday basis. She used to be a fashionista in her 20s but life got in the way. She currently finds dressing up a waste of energy and prefers comfort of her lounge clothing (salwar kameez) at home over a saree. She is subjected to gentle coaxing by friends and family to wear gaudy-er clothing. She sees it as a sign of affection. It doesn’t bother her. She obliges for weddings and events.

.

img_8385

Salwar : Blue dress by Celine ( second-hand). Kameez: Borrowed from mom. Shawl : Borrowed from mom. Black ballet flats : Jil Sanders ( best I have tried ! ). Earrings : Brass jhumkas from our local crafts village. 

Photo Credit : dad.

.

img_8517-2

Salwar : Black pinstripe dress by Stella McCartney (second-hand). Kameez : pink bottom in Mangalagiri cotton, stitched by my tailor. Brown Satchel: Campomaggi. 

Photo Credit : mom.
.

image1-2

This is how I (am supposed to) dress for weddings and other Indian events. I dont usually wear glasses but it was between eye surgeries. 

(Hot) Pink Saree: Uppada silk. It was my wedding reception saree from 2010.

Photo Credit : Harsha’s selfie skills.

.

And me.

I don’t want need to build an Indian closet. I now optimize my buying habits around consuming less and getting the most wear out of what I own. If I bought something with print or in a bright color or with embroidery, I cant wont wear it in my everyday life. Its too distracting for the workplace. It’s not aesthetically simple enough for my taste to wear for my pleasure. If I reserve it for Indian events, I will need 30 years to get my money’s worth out of of it. If I spend that 100-200$ on an everyday blue dress/silk blouse/denim instead, I will wear it 100 times at the least. If I spend 100$ on an Indian outfit, I would wear it twice a year and mostly for a show to please my relatives. I don’t see a point in it.

I refused to buy new clothes for this trip. I was selling my gold to raise money for Syria. Buying anything new on the side felt like a defeat. I have a few salwars from when I left India 9 years ago. But no longer have that lanky body and was struggling to get them to fit. So I made what I wear everyday in America work for me instead. My nice dresses. I used them as tops, borrowed bottoms from my mother and used my scarves for dupattas. Took the beg/borrow/re-use/repurpose route. It made me very happy.

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”

Zadie Smith, On Beauty


I am literally holding my mother and grandmothers hand to do my first outfit post. Serious fashion bloggers might dislike this sort of post. Atleast I hope so. I have more words than photographs to express what I want to show : The second order influences of my tribe. My dislike for open toed shoes and love for black loafers came from my father. Wear-your-favourite-color-all-the-time rule came from my mother. She also may have taught me the concept of “good color Vs bad color”. Don’t really know what I learnt from my grandma. My great-grand-mother’s closet color palette looks like mine – certain shades of blue, pink, green, burgundy and gray. She wore one color per outfit. It was very soothing on the eyes to look at her. Her simplicity was exquisite. We may not wear the same silhouettes or items of clothing but the influences are in there somewhere…

Questions : 

Do you think about sartorial inheritances in terms of tendencies or items ?

What did you inherit from your family ? 

Did your mother influence your personal style ?