Dress Up! If not now, when?

You don’t actually have to have a million bucks to look like a million bucks. Sure, a Chanel Jacket, a Kelly and red soled shoes help, but if designer-wear is not an option, there are other ways…

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When you are dressed well, you get more of the right kind of attention, better service in stores, restaurants, and are taken more seriously at work. You also feel more confident, and this boosts your self-esteem. And as we know, anything that can be done to boost our self-esteem, must be done!

The only thing wrong with updating your wardrobe,  is when you go overboard and spend money you don’t have. Don’t do that! You can look super chic with Just a few tweaks to your wardrobe. Here’s how you can do it, without breaking the bank.

Invest in one designer handbag

A good, high-quality handbag should be right up there on your wardrobe list. A well-made one will last years. High-end designers use the best quality leather and hardware, and their workmanship is excellent. Designer bags don’t start falling apart after a season. They hold their shape, and often look good as new decades later. Women have inherited Chanel handbags from their mothers, grandmothers even, and they  look as classy today as they did half a century ago. Needless to say, you don’t have to splurge on a Chanel. There are many designer handbags that are extremely durable and available at a lower price-range. So if money is tight, save up, buy one handbag, and carry it until it lasts –  very possibly a decade or two. The price per wear will whittle down over time, and this one accessory can upgrade your look like nothing else can.

Consider opting for a mid-size handbag that could transition from day to night, in which case black with  gold hardware would be an elegant and classy choice. Handheld handbags look very chic, so get one with a detachable strap, which can be removed for a formal event, and clipped on during the day.

Chain straps look fancier than leather ones, and are an easy way to sharpen your look. I’d do a gold chain strap, thus reducing the need for jewellery. The Falabella Stella McCartney Foldover Tote has chunky gold chains and is a great option as it can be carried three ways – folded over as a clutch, as a smaller shoulder bag and as a large tote, making it extremely versatile and obliterating the need for a second bag. It is not as expensive as other designer bags and retails for around 1100 USD. If you wait for the sales, you may luck out and get it even cheaper.

Sure you can get cheap faux-leather bags for a lot less, but quality shows. They will not look as nice, and will need to be replaced within a year.

Jewellery

While diamond solitaires look great, there’s no need to fret if they don’t fit into your budget. Stick to a single metal, gold, to match the chain on your handbag. If you get a thin gold chain,  you can hang a chunky pendant as a dressier option. Two pairs of gold hoops, one big and thin and the other small and chunky, will work for all events. Remember to ease up on the bling – you’re already getting a lot of it from the handbag.

Colour

Wear everything in one colour or in shades of the same colour. Instant chic.

Fabric

Stay a mile away from polyester. Other fabrics mixed with some polyester is fine, but if the entire garment is a 100 percent polyester, don’t, unless you’re in your teens or probably early twenties. Invest in a fewer clothes, of better quality, and look after them. Remove them as soon as you reach home so dry-cleaning bills don’t skyrocket. If the fabric is washable, then at times you could get away by simply washing the underarm area instead of throwing it in for a wash, to get more wear out of each outfit. Always wear an anti-persiperant, aluminium-free if possible, so you don’t stain your underarms or cause odour.

Undergarments

Try and match the colour of your bra to your outfit, and never wear a white bra with a black top. You could do away with white bras completely and wear nude bras with white and most light colours, black with black, and red with red. Lace bras look very pretty hanging in the stores, but not so much under slinky clothes.

Shoes

Minimise your shoe collection! Get a few, good pairs, made with leather or material built to last. Gold sandals for parties that require bling, black wedges or flats for daily wear, a pair of well-polished (always) black boots and nude heels are all the shoes you need. Stick to the same formula – less items of better quality. You will accumulate less clutter, discard less, create less trash, be more environment-friendly, and will make better use of the items you do have.

And, you will look better.

Win-win!

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Shorts

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This summer, it’s all about shorts. For the longest time I kept looking at all these teenagers around me rocking shorts, and while I thought it looked great on them, I never once thought of shorts as an option for me. Then one fine day I realised, damn, it’s HOT! Maybe it’s time I tried shorts too. So I did, and boy, am I glad.

I headed out to Marks and Spencer. I love that store. You get great basics here, just simple tanks, trouser and shorts. Can’t beat the price and quality combo. I picked up a khakhi pair of shorts, thought I’d try it and see how it looks. The shorts were kinda long, around 2 inches above the knees, so they were age-appropriate. If you’ve got the legs you can definitely wear shorter shorts too at any age. But considering I was thinking of wearing shorts in public after many years of covering up my legs up to my knees, I couldn’t go any shorter. Plus, you need to have really thin legs for short shorts, and while I’m slim, I’m not teenage skinny. So I gave the short shorts a skip. The best bet for most slim body types would be shorts that are at least three-forth the length of your thigh or longer. Anything mid-thigh or shorter is kind of dangerous territory. It may look good, or it may not. It depends on whether you can carry it off. A slightly longer length  is safe for those who don’t want to show too much leg, but still want to be cool and comfortable.

If you’ve not worn shorts in public for some time, you may wonder if if makes sense to pick out a new pair. Well, give it a shot! Once you’ve gotten over the initial hesitation and get used to seeing yourself wearing something shorter than you normally would, you will wonder how you managed all those summers without shorts, or why you didn’t wear them as often as you could’ve.

Carry your shorts with confidence. Maybe you’ll inspire your friends to try them out too. They can be a glorious addition to every wardrobe this summer. Team them with fit flops and you’re good to go anywhere!

But shorts don’t just need to be worn to the gym or when running random errands. We’ve all done that. Shorts can easily be dressed up with the help of a belt and heels. While khakhi shorts can never be dressed up, red, black or white shorts can be worn for lunches or nights out. This summer, wear your shorts all over the place and try and get a lot more wear out of them. Experiment! See how gorgeous you can look in your simple shorts.

I was so thrilled with my khakhi shorts that I hit M&S again the very next day for another 2 pairs – black and red. And since then I have worn them every single day. And babe, you will too! Happy shopping! 🙂

Shoppingggggg!! Online.

I heart shopping. I wish someone paid me to shop, and I could make a career out of it. I can’t imagine a better job! Although I know there already are some professional shoppers, I can’t imagine such a profession taking off in India, so I guess I’ll have to be content with shopping for myself and spending my own money. Damn. Image

So these days I’ve been checking out online stores, and while I haven’t shopped from any of them, it’s great to compare prices between India and abroad. My husband keeps travelling to the US, and so it makes sense for me to compare prices in India with prices in the US – and most items are invariably cheaper in the States. Also, as my brother is in the US too, it’s easy for me to have the items delivered to him. My husband will just pick them up from there when he goes, or my brother can get them.

There are great deals online too. Last week there was a flat 30% off on all items from Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. These deals are online exclusives so save yourself some money and petrol, and start browsing the online stores.

Myntra… another great website. Now I haven’t yet shopped from there, but the stuff seems fairly good. I compared prices of FCUK here with FCUK in the US, and guess what! The brand is cheaper here… Wow! And Myntra actually had a sale on, where you can buy one FCUK dress, the most expensive ones, natch, and get 2 free! Now that’s a deal.

I don’t do very low end shopping as I’m 35+, and I don’t shop very high end designer brands either. So no Versace gowns for me! But I’m happy with the mid-level high street brands for now. The quality is good, fits are good, and in my books, clothes that retail for hundreds of dollars are really not worth it unless you are buying it for a special occasion like a wedding. Even then, I’d think twice and would rather buy something more versatile, that I can get much more wear out of.

I have kids too, and while I can understand some of us not wanting to shop for something unless we try it on, surely the same rule doesn’t apply to kids clothes. Go for it! As for me, I’ve just seen a skirt I love on Mango.com. Flat 30% off on the new collection for online shoppers! Yippee!

 

The Basic Black Tee

photo Now that’s your basic tee. And you can’t get more basic than that. Round neck or Vee neck, a basic black t-shirt, not too tight, is a MUST in your wardrobe. Here are just a few ways you can wear it.

One of course is just don it with simple blue jeans. Add a statement necklace, and you’ve taken it up a level. Shop for necklaces at Aldo, Chemistry, Forever New. You get great deals during sales.

photo (3)Now to this tee I’ve added a fringe necklace from Zara. It dresses it up instantly. It’s still not complete for a night-out though, and so, I add my shrug.

Voila! Am set for a night out.

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Here’s one final look, with the same jacket and top. I’ve just cinched it in at the waist with a belt. Ain’t it cool?

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All you’ve got to do to achieve even more looks, is to change the jacket and necklaces. Try crochet sometimes, a thin gold jacket at other times. A simple black t-shirt is an incredibly versatile garment. Invest in a good quality garmet so it doesn’t look faded before its time. As you can see, you will be wearing it a lot, so it will be money well spent!

Stay fabulous! 🙂

Shop Smart

chain-beltEveryone goes shopping. Everyone spends money, but few make great additions to their wardrobe.

Dressing well is an art, and it is much harder than it looks. Easy access to a ton of cash helps of course, but not every one with a ton of money dresses well. Similarly, there are many on a tight budget, who dress better than their friends who may have more money to splurge.

Dressing well is important. It makes you feel better about yourself, that contributes to mental well-being and a higher sense of self-esteem.

It makes others look at you with greater admiration and respect. Remember Pretty Woman? The bitchy salesgirls were falling all over themselves to serve a posh Vivian, who they had treated like crap a short while ago because she was dressed trashy. Yes, it DOES happen. Few of us are such extremes though, but still, in general the rule of thumb is, the better you dress, the better you will be treated, whether you go to the bank, an insurance company, or to a shop, a restaurant, a hotel… etc etc.

If you dress sharp at work, your bosses will treat you better, and so will your colleagues. They may hate you though, ‘coz you’re so cool!

So how do you become a better dresser?

I have a friend who dresses horribly. She goes to cheapy stores and picks up a ton of t-shirty lycra tops. She’s in her mid-thirties, and will wear jeans and a t-shirt with a chunky necklace for formal parties. It doesn’t work.

Stop buying a dozen similar-type tops. Instead, buy accessories.

Belt

Buy a fabulous belt. A belt can add a great finishing touch to any outfit. Everyone should have a thin chain belt that sits prettily on the hips. Instead of wearing your (longer) shirt tucked inside your jeans all the time, leave it out, don a pair of jeggings or skinny jeans, and clasp that belt around your hips. It gives the same shirt a whole new, and better look.

Another belt that is a must-have is an elastic belt. They can be worn around your jeans like a regular belt, or around any dress to dress it up, or even to cinch in the waist of your cover-up.

Shoes

Do not underestimate the power of shoes. You do not have to own hundreds of pairs, but just because you have a pair of black shoes doesn’t mean it will work for every item in your wardrobe. Buy another one! You need black stilettos, black casual shoes that are not too clunky, black boots, black slippers, again for casual days. None of these will go very well with formal work trousers, for which you need a pair of black pumps. Do not EVER buy shoes with fat elastic straps. They look horrifying.

Get a gold pair and a silver pair of stilettos. These should see you through most dressy events.  Cut down on buying another t-shirt the next time, and opt for a pair of shoes.

Bag

Get one large sequined or glittery clutch bag that has a gold chain attached, and you’re good to go.  While some drop multiple thousands and even lakhs of rupees on bags, needless to say, it is not necessary to spend that much. Check out the bags at Mango and Zara.

Shrug

A long summer shrug is a great buy. You can wear it day or night, especially if you get a colour like red, grey or even white, which will look good at night if you wear it with a black singlet or an LBD. Wear your shrug with an elastic belt around it for yet another look. Crochet shrugs are also cute and extremely versatile.

Vests

Marks and Spencer has some totally awesome vest tops in stock right now. They fit great, are just the right length, and have a lace border. You get them in a number of colours, so check them out. They can be worn under a cover-up at night, or with jeans during the day for a casual look. Like most vests, they can be worn under any top with a deep neck. That lace peeking out looks tres cute.

Hoops

A pair of gold and silver hoops will see you through a ton of outfits. Invest in a couple of pairs. Also, check out Anokhi for fairly reasonable, wonderful earrings that can be worn daily and will pump up any outfit. I like Anokhi earrings because that they use pure silver, which doesn’t irritate my ears.

So there you have it. Build up your accessory base, and before you know it, you’ll rock!

The Eva Clutch

Eva Clutch, worn cross-body with the chain hanging out front

My husband, my dear, dear husband, bought me TWO Louis Vuittons!!

Now, excuse me while I pause to shriek in delight….

As I wrote in my previous post, Raj, my husband, my dear, dear husband, initially bought me the Speedy b that I had asked him to get. When he was in the store, the Azur Speedy caught his eye. He went back a second time intending to buy me that. When he consulted the sales lady, she guided him in the direction of the Eva, which is what he ended up buying. It was supposed to be a surprise, but because he just cannot keep anything from me, and because he lurvvves me, he blurted it out on the phone to hear me… what else… shriek!

I have been researching the Eva clutch with maniacal intensity and have decided that I love what I see. It’s versatile as it can be worn formally with the short chain or casually by hooking on the long strap. Both straps can be removed and it can be carried as a pure clutch, but its much prettier with the chain. The chain can also be worn in a couple of ways, the strap can be made longer and shorter, and basically I can create a number of looks for the clutch. I can also chuck it into my Neverfull or Speedy b and use as a wallet or cosmetic case.  So I’m going to be using this baby all the time, that’s for sure.

I have a Bottega knot clutch which is pink, and I don’t get to carry it around that much. I certainly do use it, but somehow I tend to take it to more formal occasions. If it’s just a lunch out with the girls, my Bottega stays in my closet. I can, however, see myself taking the Eva out with me a lot, which is great because its just so much more bang for the buck.

The Azur is probably not the ideal colour for nights out although I just might be able to pull this off as a contrast. At any rate, we do get called for a lot of brunches and I can definitely carry this with me for formal occasions during the day, if not at night. The Mono Eva or the Eva Damier Ebene, which are both brown, are more appropriate if you are looking for something that you can also easily carry off at night as well as during the day.

For me, well, this will do jes fine! 🙂

Speedy B Heaven

I must admit, I wasn’t too excited about going to the Louis Vuitton boutique here at UB City, because I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything. As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband is in the United States, and the rates there are a lot less than in Bangalore. But as I needed to get a final decision on which bag I wanted, I knew I had to make the trip, see the bags in person, harass the sales people a bit to show me all the bags on my list, in all the colours, strut around in them, and decide once and for all. Just seeing the bags on the website is not the same. You really do need to model it a bit before deciding.

So my options were the Lumineuse PM in Orient – ie the orange colour, the Artsy MM, colour undecided, and the Speedy B in Orient.

I tried them all out, and fell in love with the Speedy B, monogram empriente, in Infiny – the dark blue/black shade. It was OMG Awesome. Although I thought I wanted the Orient, I changed my mind when I saw the Infiny.

First of all, the size, Speedy 25, was perfect. Yes, it’s too small if you need to lug files along, or a magazine or an iPad, but I just need it for my wallet, sunglasses case, make-up pouch, cell phone, little notebook, pen, keys and a couple other random items like a hairbrush. I would certainly be able to fit all these items into the Speedy 25. And the greatest advantage of the

1. small size, and

2. colour,

is that it works perfectly as a super stylish evening bag too.

The gold hardware looks awesome against the dark blue colour.

Unlike the traditional Speedy, the Speedy b comes with a strap, so it can be worn cross-body, on the shoulder, or the strap can be removed and it can be hand held. It looks great whichever way it’s worn.

So I came home and called my husband with the info, and he loved the bag too. He bought it for me the same day! Yes!!!!! Come home soon baby! I can’t wait to see my new beauty!