Chic Diwali gifts: Light up a friend’s home

What’s a Diwali without gorgeous diyas and candles to light up the home of your loved ones?

Seeing the lovely candles and candle holders in the stores, I thought why not gift them to friends and family. These Diwali gifts would be light on your pocket, and would double up as decorative living room accessories during get-togethers, and be used often as well. 🙂

We suggest you pick candles and candle holders from Good Earth (if you’re in Mumbai) and the Bombay Store. For more affordable options, try Westside and Marks & Spencer stores in your city.

I particularly liked the coloured glassware and the gold motifs—they’re super stylish and trendy! Check out a couple of affordable gifting options (from Marks & Spencer) in the pictures below:

Looped candle holder from Marks & Spencer Decorative candle holders- Marks & Spencer

Are you gifting candles and candle holders to your friends this Diwali?

Advice: It’s raining sales!

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It’s the Independence Day weekend, and even after a long month of sales, it’s raining sales all around. (Is it just me or has the monsoon sales run lasted longer than usual?)

I’m sure there are plenty of us who are in the mood to empty their pockets this weekend, what with the apparently irresistible offers by our favourite stores. But here’s the big question—with so many awesome great deals and bargain prices, what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

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Speaking Chic has put together some simple questions pointers to help you go easy on the sales shopping so that you don’t regret your purchases later.

  • What do I need? Make a mental note of what you really need before you head to the mall. Check your wardrobe, shoe rack and jewellery box; and assess your life. Maybe you’re being invited to lots of parties, so you need an LBD. Or you don’t have the very trendy statement rings.
  • Will I wear this in the next three months? Ok, so an awesome tee’s on sales for Rs 300 only! Ask yourself: will I wear this t-shirt? If your cupboard is bursting with unworn tees, then keep it back on the rack. 
  • Who else is wearing this? When I was shopping a few months ago, my friend pointed out a great Zara bejewelled tshirt at a great price. Wearable, comfortable, convenient, the works. But did I buy it? No! Why not? Because every Pooja, Priyanka and Payal is wearing it! Do you really want to wear exactly what everyone else is wearing?
  • Can I experiment with this? Always look for one garment or accessory that can overhaul your wardrobe, something you’ve never worn before. It could be a new silhouette (slouchy pants), colour (electric blue) or garment (pencil skirt). Word of caution: Experiment, but don’t look like a clown.
  • Can this item replace something in my wardrobe? If you’re throwing away your office shirts, you need new ones. If your favourite office bag is in tatters, you need a replacement. Look specifically for these about-to-be-discarded garments and shoes while sale-shopping.
  • Does it fit/ suit me? Get real, everyone has a different shape and size. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing someone else’s tunic, or get painful blisters, do you? If it’s not in your size, or it makes you uncomfortable, move on. You’ll find something better.

Do you have any more sales shopping tips? Share them with us! Have a great Independence Day!

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Zara Review (with spy shots)

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I’ve just come back from a wonderful trip to Turkey, which included tonnes of shopping, including at Zara and Mango. So I thought it’d be a perfect time to test the Zara store in Mumbai. Here’s my honest review (with cool spy shots).

I’d heard scary stories the day before I visited Zara’s Mumbai store—there was a queue to go in, it was packed, long lines at the cash counter… you get the drift. But surprise! No lines to get in, enough elbow space, though Zara was a bit crowded for an Indian store.

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Zara is a sprawling two-floor store, with men, kids and women’s casuals on the first floor, and the ground floor dedicated to women’s wear. The men’s section was unexpectedly crowded, which is good news, because it indicates that Indian men are acquiring good fashion taste. I spotted some basic guys’ tees for Rs 895.

Coming to the casuals range (the TRF line), there were basic half-sleeve tees for Rs 445, jeans-like-leggings (Rs 1590; not called jeggings here), graphic tees, leggings, and a couple of really cool jackets. One was a pink cotton ruffle jacket (Rs 1790), and the other a smart short-sleeved blue leather jacket. A lot of the garments reminded me of the Istanbul store, indicating that they from the latest collection.

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I brought out my camera, but I’d only taken two pictures before an Oriental-looking guy called Mike said, “Sorry, photo not allowed.” I mumbled a sorry and put it back inside. Moments later, I saw an Oriental-looking girl, and guessed that Zara has sourced staff from other stores in Asia.

On the lower floor, I spotted formal blazers (useful for formal meetings), cocktail dresses, tunics, blouses, jeans and trousers.  

The striking trends in the Zara collection were floral prints in easy, flowing silhouettes, whites, graphic prints, and a bit of lace and cutwork. And then there was the key trend this season—denim. Besides the jeans, there were skirts (Rs 990), shorts, a dress or two and even denim-look slouchy pants (Rs 2190)! The party dress selection was more classic than trendy, but very wearable.

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Among accessories, the stoles and bags didn’t deserve a second glance, but there were plenty of shoes to keep us girls happy, and several were available in my hard-to-get size (a tiny 36). Again, Zara had made an effort to stock the hottest shoes, such as strappy flats and gladiator-style stilettos. Unfortunately, the shoes are priced similar to or bit higher than Charles & Keith and Nine West. I even saw a pink pair for Rs 5000!

BTW, I noticed Zara had tried to give their collection a desi appeal with a FabIndia-like printed skirt on display and several tunics that were clearly India-inspired.

The Verdict:

Will I go to Zara again? Yes. Is it now my favourite store in Phoenix Mills? Nope, that’s still Landmark. Would I recommend the store to others? Yes.

BUT… Zara needs to get its pricing right, since I found prices undeserving, even surprising or just appalling! And if you’re an avid shopper abroad, then you don’t need this store.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping Zara’s mere presence in India spurs Mango to pull up its socks and give us better stuff.

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