Essay : My Style Evolution

Posted on February 25, 2017

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Found this pink dress of mine in my mother’s closet. She kept it for 28 years. I don’t have an archive of my photographs through the years. Hopefully words will suffice. Don’t know if this sort of thing is interesting to read but I wanted to pen it down for myself. Chronicle my life so far through clothes. 

c/o Parents

School uniform of pale blue shirt and navy blue skirt of a certain specifications. Hair braids were compulsory. When not at school, it’s a mix of hand me downs from my older cousin and presents from my aunts who would live in America. My parents lived on a very tight budget and I don’t remember ever going shopping unless it was for a very special occasion – a wedding or a birthday. Also, it was a very confusing time style wise. I lived in a small town where people dressed conservatively and anything ‘western’ was deemed evil. I was once asked to to change out of a dress I was wearing or wear a burka on top, by an uncle. The dress was knee length and he said it looked vulgar. There were strong feminine/masculine associations for garments in my society with no scope for cross over ( at that time ). My cousin lived in the city and her hand me downs were dresses, jeans, t-shirts, etc. I was not comfortable in her clothes but never complained. I spent my time reading and outdoors. A book called ‘History of medicine’ from my fathers library made the biggest impact. I wanted to become a scientist. When I told my dad about it, he bought me biographies of a well know scientists. And would make me read one per month #bestDad. India launched its first PSLV into space and it was an exciting time to dream big.

Age 15-17

No more uniform for school meant that I had to choose for myself. My father gave me a yearly clothing allowance. My mother and I, would go to a fabric village to pick out plain cloth by the yard, get some embroidery done and my tailor would stitch them for me. The colors I wear today are from the color palette I discovered back then. The college I attended was conservative. They would chide you if you weren’t covered head to toe. Wearing pants or dresses meant that you will be sent home to change. I was told that I need to should start using fairness creams. I also got told that I need to wear off-white and yellow because of my complexion. I never liked those colors and refused. But I did believe I was ugly. Sort of had no interest in clothing or vanity or grooming. I wore traditional clothing like the rest of the women in my town. And spent my days studying from dusk to dawn to make it into Engineering school. But I did know the meaning of the word – content. I had a dozen outfits in all and never never was in the ‘let me shop some more’ mode. I was very content with what I had. Was a minimalist.

Maanasa’s Shoe Collection

Posted on February 19, 2017

A mathematician’s closet:

She has a well rounded shoe collection. I have been begging her to let me photograph it and make some style posts. “I wont answer shit like : describe your style in 3 words. Don’t you ask me such inane questions”, she said. I agreed.  Easiest things first – presenting her shoe collection :

“Ten years ago, I lived in three pairs – sports shoes, covered or semi-covered flats, and slippers. Moved to America for my PhD. Lived in New York, which marked the beginning of a huge transformation in how I looked at dressing up, grooming and taking care of myself. Today I own a variety of shoes – loafers, oxfords, sandals. And still want to add a few more styles into my collection. “

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 Brown Sandals : Made to measure by Kikanyc. You send in your foot impressions with measurements as per their specifications. The shoe artelier is run by a protegee of the legendary shoe maker Barbara Shaum

Cognac Sandals : Jerusalem.   ( Between Maanasa and me, we bought 8 pairs from the brand so far. For our husbands, dads, uncles, cousins, … The sturdiest sandals I have laid eyes on. Excellent value for money. Pairs well with Indian clothing. )

Outfit : The Black Winter Coat

Posted on February 17, 2017

The mauve statement coat can be a source of ‘don’t spill food’, ‘don’t let the dog jump on me’ and ‘cant sit on the floor’ related anxiety.  My life is more rustic than glamourous. A black coat is what I wear on an everyday basis. My check list :

  1. A blanket wrap coat with some structure

2. Double layered wool.

3. High quality heavy weight fabric.

4. Should keep me warm without making me look sloppy.

5. The length should stop right at my knee ( works for my body proportions ).

6. Should not look like a bath robe but be roomy.

7. Should not be trendy or look expensive.


….  I hit the jackpot on this one. Its kept me warm in peak Seattle winter, San Francisco’s stormy winds, ski trips to the snow mountains,  …

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Black coat : Phoebe Philo for Celine. Consigned. 

Black denim : R13 100% cotton

Black t-shirt : Cuyana

Black loafers : Saint Laurent

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Winter is the one season where I see the need for jewellry. Black and gray clothing makes a great blank canvas. Dainty jewellry stands out and adds the spark & joy. I actively rotate through the contents in my jewellry box to add that one special element. One piece of jewellry per outfit is enough for me. To me, its the perfect balance between not being boring and austere simplicity. I wear earrings or a necklace or a bracelet. Never together. This turquoise cuff belongs to my friend Maanasa. We share/swap/borrow/steal from each other. I intend to wear it too many times before I return it. It peeks through the coat adding some saliency to the noir backdrop.

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Turquoise cuff : Vintage, Zuni Native-American tribal jewellry, borrowed from Maanasa. 

Painting : Street art from Jaipur, India. I like how they embellished the black garments. 

Style Notes :

THE THEORY OF TWO WINTER COATS

The primary coat should be a neutral easy to pair one and the warmest garment that can be owned. The second for the days when you are sick of winter and need some cheering up. It can be less practical, be in a non neutral color, have bold details, …. I gave myself permission to invest in both. Why just two ? Dry cleaning is essentially rinsing your clothes in a toxic soup and I wont do it. I don’t what those chemicals on my body. Hand washing is a pain. Two is enough. One more coat to wash at the end of the season is not worth the pleasure I would get from the third. Law of diminishing returns applies.

Style Tip :

BUYING A WINTER COAT

I advocate buying a coat from high end luxury makers consigned. Its easier to find 100% natural fabrics with mohair, angora, cashgora, virgin wool, alpaca, … content at affordable prices upon some patience.  The aim is to get the best design, construction and quality for the money spent.  Not to buy something brand new for the given amount of money. 

Non negotiable details : Pockets. Full sleeves that don’t let in the cold air. Big lapels/collar that I can lift up to cover the neck when needed.

For black garments, quality of the material is what matters the most. It can look shiny when its not supposed to. Black can looks ashy and age terribly. A color like bright pink can hold out on its own even in cheap polyester. But black is a different story. The simplest garments need to be in exquisite quality.

Silhouette : I like the roomy kind. It should be able to fit me into it after I layer a thick sweater. I like the ones with some structure and an A-line silhouette.

Fit : You cant bike if your coat fits you just right. You should be able to stretch your arms out. You need to bend forward for extended period of time. Clothes wear our faster on you if you bike. You sweat more. They need to be washed often. There is more stress on the seams. I size up to reduce the wear and tear.

I think of buying a coat as a ‘7 year contract with the garment’. Find quality accordingly. Spend accordingly. Invest in a garment brush. Store it properly. Make it last.

Valentine’s day Gift Guide

Posted on February 12, 2017

This one book will do : Soppy, a love story.

“time stands still best in moments that suspiciously look like ordinary life”

Flipping through this book made us smile the entire time. Its a celebration of a life built together. God of small things. All the moments that go by that I would have written off as normal. But seeing it all in print made me realize – we are the people in that book. And we have experienced these moments. Even on the days when we don’t realize it, we are collecting the memories. ” Do you need a book and a day to realize it? “, you can ask. In the everyday hustle, its easy to forget. In chasing the big moments, its easy to forget the simpler ones. Date nights in restaurants filled with trained chefs are awesome. But so is eating a ripe watermelon crouched over the sink. Getting a bouquet of red roses is nice. But so is getting a tiny wild flower on a random Wednesday because he spotted it on the way home and thought of me when he saw it ….. the little things matter.

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Other gift ideas : a potted plant, seeds and an empty pot filled with mud, a couples tango lesson, cooking class, yoga class, rock climbing lesson, an adventure race, a road trip, a hike, woolen socks, a sketch session where you make your partner sit and you sketch her ( and record her reaction when she sees your final product. do this every year and save the sketches ), going together to pick out a nice bottle of wine, disco date on the couch with mandatory DIY costumes and flashing colorful lights, sleeping in a little longer, ordering breakfast in bed, make a reading date with your old fav books, organize a treasure hunt, go for the longest walk ( break your previous record ), go surprise visit your parents, volunteer at a local food bank together, buy the book I recommended-tear out the pages & mail one page each to all the couples you know, ….


Please suggest some more ideas :

Outfit : The Statement Coat

Posted on February 10, 2017

Operative word : THE RIGHT PINK. It needs to be in the correct shade and appropriate dosage. Two years ago, I was looking for a light color coat to add to my winter closet. White/beige is not a color I wear. Powder blue wasn’t exciting enough. I couldn’t find a flattering shade of Camel.  Taupe or beige with pink undertones was what I zeroed in on. And this mauve Stella McCartney piece checked all of the boxes for me. Not a regret since.

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A funnel coat is my transition-into-and-out-of-winter coat. Its warm but not peak-winter-warm. Its has a cape like silhouette but is practical and wearable. Its for the days I tire of black, gray and winter. Its for the nights in the city when I don’t want to dress up and but want to end up looking like I did. Its what I wear to winter gatherings and refuse to take off when indoors. It doesn’t have any contrasting details, brocades, velvet, shiny buttons, bright colors, fun prints, fur collars, … the elements that are needed to qualify as a statement coat. But its special to my eyes. ( MY TAKE on a statement coat : I don’t want all eyes to take notice. But the right eyes. ) The rest of the outfit stays simple and becomes a blank canvas. Works well with my winter capsule wardrobe of gray, black and navy basics. #myPersonalStyle

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Mauve Coat : Stella McCartney ( my fav ). 70% wool and 30% cashmere. Consigned. Available in other colors ( black, slate blue, navy, army green, navy & cotton, cotton )

Black long sleeve cotton t-shirt : Cuyana 

Black Denim : R13 100% cotton jeans

Black Loafers : St Laurent ( Consigned )

Black BagEmerson Fry office bag ( discontinued )

Style mistake : A trench coat should be long enough to cover the winter coat. I bought a trench jacket which does not keeping the rain out of my clothing and looks funny when layered over a coat. Also, this traditional OOTD format doesn’t suit my blog. Makes me feel like a saleswoman trying to sell the coat (presumably off my back since its old-season). 

Wish List : A magic portion that I can feed my husband that will make him photograph my outfits.  

Staring at a shopping cart …

Posted on February 5, 2017

I vowed to never do this sort of post. Never to show products that I haven’t tested out. If anyone else buys them after I featured them on the blog + if its of shoddy quality for the money … I would feel responsible. I stand by my quality assessment and take it very seriously.  But I am a list maker and wanted to share. Since coming back from India, I am in a weird state of mind. I missed my clothes terribly. I missed the fashion that I usually surround myself with. Been admiring the exquisite simplicity of APC, Row, Lemaire, Jil Sanders … Perhaps its the antidote to what I wore in India … I was meeting my family after long and everyone wanted to to buy me something as a token of affection. Perhaps its a reaction to going to all these beautiful stores/handloom villages and resisting hard … Or perhaps its from writing blog posts about clothing every week. My shopping cart is full and looks like this :

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My selection from A.P.C.  

Blue Dress ( Trigger word : indigo dyed, linen )

Turtle Neck dress ( Triggers : wool felt, winter )

Black pumps ( Am getting over it as I type this post )

Everlane Loafers : I want to review them. See if Everlane is worth the hype.

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The only thing that is stopping me is this blog. Its grounded me and made me accountable to myself. I get emails saying I have inspired people to shop less. I also get emails that I shop too much and am not simple enough when compared to the minimalist Joneses. I ignore the latter for the most part and am old enough to hold out on my own. Weighing everything in, I am sleeping on them and waiting for it to pass. If not, the shoes look good.

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Questions :

Do you have the occasional late night/weekend whirlwind browsing sessions ? 

Do you add items to the cart and stare at them till you loose interest ?

Is your current wish list empty ? If not, please share ?

Favourite Illustrators

Posted on February 3, 2017

Art of art’s sake. Art for a purpose.

These two categories sum up how I perceive various creatives. Being an artist is way more than ability to sketch. Creating something original takes imagination, intelligence and a vision. And making art for a cause – takes a strong heart. These illustrators have been my cheerleaders for the last 10 days. Here is my tribute and thanks. My Valentines day card.

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Her Instagram

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Her Insta

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Her Instagram

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Her Instagram

5. Carrie L

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Her Insta

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Her instagram

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Her Insta

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Her Insta

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His Insta

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When the music changes, so does the dance. A shout out to lifestyle bloggers Reading my Tea Leaves, Man Repeller, Ecocult, Fashion Law, A cup of JoGarance Dore, … who are speaking up. They could have kept with their usual schedules like nothing is happening. But they are using their platforms to stir the pot. I didn’t participate in the women’s march. I am back in America and here is my protest in solidarity.


Questions :

“We still have to protesting this shit” ?

Am I time traveling backwards ?

… why ?

Do you think internet activism works ? Or do you think we are better off yelling on the streets ?

Will protest be the new brunch ?