Chic Picks: Hot leather travel bags for a cool summer

Summer time is vacation time, people! And every summer I get on the hunt for cool travel accessories since I believe in travelling stylishly. This season, I’ve found some great bags that will last you many many trips.

For travel, I strongly recommend a spacious, sturdy, durable bag to stash all your stuff- whether for an overnight trip, a weekend getaway, a cruise, a flight or a very long vacation. These leather bags from Viari are roomy, good-looking and multi-purpose. They even come with a shoe bag, so you can later carry them to gym or work.

For women: Soho travel bag, Rs 11,900

Lots of colours to choose from, but the tan one is an all-season classic.

Viari Soho Travel Bag Tan

For men: Camper Bag, Rs 6000

Gotta love the rugged look.

Viari Camper bag small Khaki

Happy holidays!

Are cricket players more fashion-conscious?

In the past century, fashion has evolved tremendously—from corsets to crop tops, and coat tails to tshirts. With hundreds of fashion brands vying for attention, people across the world have become more trendy and fashionable. Not surprisingly, two of the most glamourous fields in the world- fashion and sports- have collided and sports persons have turned into fashion icons. This global trend began with football player David Beckham early in the 21st century.

Just like fashion, cricket has evolved as well since the 1800s, and from being role models, cricketers have become style icons as well. Unfortunately, this seems to have come at a cost. The cost of True Style.

Imran Khan cricketer

Days of cricket past: When style went beyond fashion

Your personal style is a means of expression of your personality and is an all-encompassing concept, going beyond what you wear. Style reflects in your clothing and hair, the way you speak to someone, hold your fork, or write a letter. This traditional sense of true style was something the gentlemanly cricket players of the previous century possessed and practised. You couldn’t be dressed to the Ts and use abusive language like a drunken slob at the local pub.

For instance, the dignified Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was known as much for his quiet charm as for his understated luxe clothing. The dashing Imran Khan made women swoon with his smart shirts and suits, thick wavy hair and his elegant conversation.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

Cricket players have also sought different means to express their individuality and personality. With his carefully groomed side burns à la Elvis Presley, India’s “Brylcreem boy” Farokh Engineer was a vivacious, talkative man and continues to be one. While Sir Viv Richards with his swagger, doffed cap and murderous smile, epitomized Caribbean cool much before a certain Mr. Gayle.

Days of cricket present: Cricket and fashion in the 21st century

Some of the younger Indian and international cricketers are eager to try new trends or even forge their own trend. So Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh carry off grungy jeans with elan, while Kevin Pietersen’s super confidence puts him equally at ease in a printed tee and chinos, as well as in a tailored suit. His versatile style is the envy of a lot of young men.

Virat Kohli tee and jeans

Off duty, most cricketers like to play safe with their fashion and opt for well-known international fashion brands (a number of them often go shopping on their overseas tours). Of course, there is more focus on personal grooming, along with hot trends, high street and premium fashion. Famous cricketers have been spotted in brands like Ed Hardy (Harbhajan Singh), French Connection (Shikhar Dhawan), Lacoste (Michael Clarke) and H&M (Virat Kohli). At formal events several cricketers sport designer suits from luxury brands.

Current off-duty styles

Off the field, the gentlemen (and fashion icons) of today’s cricketing world have opted for a range of looks and styles, such as:

  • Classic– Neutrals like white and black with straight cut jeans (favoured by Kumar Sangakkara, Alastair Cooke)

Kumar Sangakkara

  • Grungy – Distressed jeans, acid washed denim, printed graphic tees (loved by Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers)
  • Sporty– Polo shirts with badges, casual shirts with chinos and jeans (such as Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith)

Graeme Smith polo tee

  • Versatile– Wear a range of looks (like Kevin Pietersen, Brett Lee)

Kevin Pietersen

On-field fashion

The current crop of cricketers also set out to express their individuality on the field as well. Despite being in uniform, their distinctive features stand out:

  • Tattoos: Brendon McCullum, Kevin Pietersen, Dale Steyn

Brendon-McCullum

  • Hair: Lasith Malinga’s coloured locks, Brett Lee’s spikes, MS Dhoni’s ever-changing hair styles

Lasith Malinga hair

  • Sunglasses: Chris Gayle, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh

Chris Gayle

  • Facial hair: Shikhar Dhawan’s curled moustache and stubble, Mitchell Johnson’s handlebar moustache, Ravindra Jadeja’s royalty-inspired moustache

Mitchell Johnson

Style, fashion and “uniforms”

In the first decade of this century, the idea of style has given way to “fashion statements”, and thus style has become equated only with what you wear. Men and women have become clones when it comes to sartorial choices (solid or graphic tees, skinny jeans, chinos and sneakers). These off-the-field “uniforms” may make you feel part of the peer group, but they don’t express your personality or style.

This limited definition of style has unfortunately percolated to current cricket players as well. While some of them may make a strong fashion statement, their unique style is lacking and invisible. Let me explain: I have never met Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, nor do I recall watching or reading any interview with that legendary cricketer. Yet, one look at his off-duty picture and I am convinced that if I were to meet him, he would be a true gentleman- courteous, respectful, benevolent and, of course, charming. That is the magnetic power of True Style.

True, we shouldn’t judge a wearer by his or her clothes, but what about style as a holistic concept? Somewhere in the past few decades, individual, meaningful True Style has almost disappeared.

Bodyline (sorry, bottomline): Style vs Fashion

Yep, cricket players these days are smart, suave and well-groomed. Some of them endorse fashion brands, appear on fashion magazine covers and sell beauty products, while others are trying their hand at fashion themselves (Virat Kohli’s fashion line WROGN and Zaheer Khan for Sher Singh).

Shikhar Dhawan GQ India

With the overwhelming number of clothing and accessory options for cricket players today, the bright young lot these days is more fashion-conscious than ever. Despite this, the timeless appeal of the erstwhile cricket players is universal, eternal and magical. Young people across the world may want to copy the current players’ clothes, but how many can truly emulate the charm of Pataudi, the playfulness of King Viv, or the elegance of Imran Khan? Now THAT is True Style.

This blog post is an entry for the Blogger Dream Team activity run by Blogmint. (Check out #BloggerDreamTeam on Twitter.)

Anushka Sharma’s style pick for a road trip

So, the NH 10 trailer starring Anushka Sharma and Neil Bhoopalam just hit YouTube and the film’s premise seems thrilling. Anushka Sharma is on an unexpectedly dangerous road trip, and luckily she’s dressed perfectly for it, with a HOODIE.

Anushka Sharma in NH10

Anushka’s bright yellow hoodie gets dirtier as dangers loom and she faces growing threats. The hoodie is perfect for a road trip because it keeps you comfortable and warm, and can be taken off when it’s hot. And a hoodie is totally fashion-appropriate as well: it’s sporty, outdoorsy and super stylish! Check out these chic options:

Hoodie from Superdry available on Myntra.com

Superdry-Women-Hoodie-Myntra

Treble green hoodie from American Swan.

American Swan green hoodie

Nike hoodie available on Koovs.com

Nike sporty hoodie

Wake Up Competition blue striped hoodie available on Jabong.com

Wake-Up-Competition-Blue-Hooded-Sweatshirt

And BTW, here is a complete breakdown of Anushka Sharma’s complete road trip look in NH 10:

Striped tee + light neutral cardigan + skinny jeans + light sneakers + brightly-coloured hoodie.

Anushka Sharma in NH10

And here’s the trailer of the film NH 10. After the hoodie, my eyes are on the sneakers. What about you?

BIG NEWS: Amazon.in gets fashionable

JUST IN: Amazon.in is the official title sponsor of the 25th edition of India Fashion Week, to be held this March- it will be named Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) this season.

Amazon.in India Fashion Week

Surprising? Not really.

This is a giant step for Amazon.in to make a mark on the Indian fashion scene. With the title sponsorship, the website will strike a chord for shoppers of premium and high-street fashion. And oh, Amazon.in will now be ready to face its rival Jabong.com head-on. (Jabong is the associate sponsor of the Lakme Fashion Week held in Mumbai).

Yay! More shopping!

Amazon.in has to compete with Jabong.com which has several brands and designers on board for exclusive collections, like G Star Raw, Dorothy Perkins, Vikram Phadnis, Rohit Bal for Jabong, Gaurav Gupta Tribe and Alia Bhatt.

To attract customers who are label-conscious rather than price-sensitive, Amazon.in will need to offer more exciting fashion choices on their website. The “exclusive” options are currently limited (Holii, Bulova and Imara, among others) as are the high street brands and designers already on the Indian website (Steve Madden, Hemant-Nandita).

Amazon-Fashion-India

All of this means one thing—more shopping choices for us!

My Amazon.in fashion wishlist

Internationally, Amazon retails several premium brands and designers on their website such as Kate Spade, Nanette Lepore and Calvin Klein. I would be delighted if Amazon.in could bring such brands for us. Now that would be exciting!

Also, I’m not a fan of Amazon.in’s interface for browsing clothes and accessories. They’ll need to make it slicker, cooler and more stylish if they want me to shop with them for my fashion needs.

End note

All this talk of shopping reminds me- bet you’ve already seen the Amazon.in Fashion ads on TV. It’s all part of their grand strategy to be taken seriously in fashion. Enjoy!

WINTER TIME: 20-plus chic essentials for the ladies

Ahh, the lovely winter days. The mercury dips, you pile up on the layers and sip on hot chocolate. If you hate the cold weather, why not let these stylish choices perk you up? Indulge in one of these stylish knits, jackets, coats or accessories and look chic!

Knitwear- The basics

Long camel knit from Zara

Zara camel long cardigan

Round-neck sweater from Arrow

Arrow sweater for winter

Zipped white knit from Calvin Klein Jeans

Calvin Klein Jeans _womencardigan

Funky sweaters- for the teenager in you

Animal print sweater from French Connection

FCUK animal sweater

Christmas hoodie from B: Kind

B Kind hoodie

Jackets that spell C-h-i-c

Jacket from Splash

Splash winter jacket

Puffed jacket from Guess

Guess winter jacket

Statement coats- The real head-turners

Edith Wrap Coat from Forever New

Forever New- EDITH WRAP COAT

 

Greene Coat from American Swan

American Swan Greene Red Blazer

Furry styles- Faux, of course!

Animal print coat from French Connection

FCUK fur coat

Abstract print furry jacket from Guess

Guess winter fur jacket

Camouflage print fur coat from Splash

Splash- Winter special party wear- Fuzzy fur coat

Cool leather jackets- ‘Coz biker chicks rock!

Leather jacket from Calvin Klein Jeans

CKJ_women leather jacket

Boots to make your feet look sexy

Thigh-high boots from Clarks

Clarks Kendra Candy Black Leather

Fur-trim ankle-length boots from Clarks

Clark Lisette Blues Black Leater

Blue boots from Metro

Blue boots- Metro Shoes

Accessories- To complete your winter ensemble

Hats, gloves, scarves and snood from Accessorize

Winter accessories from Accessorize

SHOE STORY: A Day in Aerosoles

Like every woman on the planet, I’ve struggled with finding the right foot wear. Shoes are either too tight, too loose, too drab, too blingy. But mostly, they’re uncomfortable. And in my experience, the comfort of any pair of shoes is inversely proportional to how good-looking the shoes are. So the prettier the shoes, the less comfortable they will be. At least that’s what I thought before I got introduced to Aerosoles.

Aerosoles shoes India

Aerosoles are touted to be stylish and comfortable shoes (yep, both features in the same pair!!!). Given the dozens of shoe bites I’ve had, ill-fitting shoes I’ve worn and owned, and the horrible foot ache that shoes give me, I decided to put a pair of Aerosoles to test for its claims. The test was simple—I would wear a pair of Aerosoles for a day and blog about how my feet felt during and at the end of the day.

9 am: First impressions

These Aerosoles are a no-fuss pair with great texture and subtle metallic shine. Can’t wait to wear them. I’m already making a mental list of outfits I can pair my Aerosoles with, or where I can wear them. So far I’ve listed: shopping, errands, luncheons, meetings and parties. This covers a lot, doesn’t it?

Aerosoles shoes flats and heels

10 am: Meeting time, the first test

I slip into the shoes. First reaction: soft, natural, and great fit. Of course, that all means COMFORTABLE! But will they be just as comfy throughout the day? Too soon to say. Fingers crossed. I pair the Aerosoles with a shirt and black trousers for a meeting. The shoes go well with my formal attire and work bag.

12 noon: Shoe bite? Nah!

The meeting just got over and guess what, no shoe bites yet! The last time I wore a new pair of shoes on a Monday morning was a month ago, and I was in intense discomfort throughout the meeting and after- painful shoe bites! But in these Aerosoles I don’t even feel a slight pinch. Like I said, perhaps they were made for me? My phone buzzes, there’s a last-minute lunch plan with the ladies. I quickly rush home to change.

Comfortable Aerosoles shoes for shopping

1 pm: Lunch-time perfection

I changed into a peach light knit embroidered top (brand new!) and beige pants, but forgot to put on a matching pair of shoes, so I’m still in the Aerosoles. But as my mom points out, they look perfect with my outfit. Yay! Comfort level still high. (An aside: Little-known trivia- Aerosoles have been brought to India by Tata International. Yep, surprised me too!)

3 pm: Easy peasy driving in Aerosoles

After lunch, I’m headed to a fashion bloggers event at Infiniti Mall. It’s a long drive with some serious traffic, which can be very tough on my arms and feet. Driving in heels is usually a pain, but today I’m wearing my Aerosoles. When I get off, I feel like I wasn’t driving at all. 🙂 I guess it’s the patented diamond pattern technology with the tiny shock absorbers and the cushion comfort that have made my long drive easier.

Driving in Aerosoles shoes India

4.30 pm: No pain, no problem!

At the mall, I’m running between the store and the press conference, and again to the store, but no problem! It’s like a mini-marathon, except that my feet are cooperating despite the heel. In Aerosoles shoes, the heel rests on a platform so your calves won’t ache.

6 pm: Fresh as a daisy

I head back home after the fashion event. It’s been an action-packed day but my feet are loving the soft feel of the leather thanks to the fine fibre structure. Why can’t I have more such shoes?!

Aerosoles shoes at mall

7.30 pm: Romance in Aerosoles

The husband’s booked tickets for a play so we head to NCPA at Nariman Point. Since we’re early, he suggests we take a stroll on the Marine Drive promenade. On any other day, I would have said a firm NO on account of the shoes, but today I say “Let’s do it!” We enjoy the sunset and gentle breeze while we walk down the picturesque stretch. A truly romantic moment at the end of a super busy day, and it was possible because of the diamond flex soles in the Aerosoles.

10 pm: My feet thank me (I mean, errr… the Aerosoles)

We head home after the play and I get into into my home slippers. It occurs to me that the Aersoles were more comfy than this pair. I get into bed with my book after dinner and for a change, my feet and calves aren’t screaming in pain. Also, the leather Aerosoles don’t stink or smell. And that’s when I realize- the Aerosoles shoes are not just any pair of shoes. My feet didn’t feel them at all, these are shoes like they were meant to be made.

Aerosoles are available at select stores of Regal, Inc 5, Metro, Mochi and Westside across India. Price range from Rs 1900 to Rs 5500.

Shoes courtesy Aerosoles.

Picks of the Week: The cool jackets you need this winter

While us Mumbai folks are sweating it out in the afternoons, folks across the country have a winter to face and dress up for. So for this week’s online picks, I’ve selected parka jackets to be your go-to outerwear options this season.

Available in neutral tones and with faux fur trimmings, these jackets will keep you warm while adding a classic touch to your style. Treat them well, and they could last you the entire season and even the next.

For women:

OASIS leopard faux fur collar parka jacket (available on Koovs.com). Price: Rs 5800

OASIS winter jacket- women

For men:

River Island Navy Faux Fur Duffle Jacket, Rs 5214 (available on Jabong.com). Current discounted price: Rs 5214

River Island winter jacket for men

Just Jewellery: Indian accessories you need for the festive season

Diwali! The festival of lights heralds good fortune and the upcoming Great Indian Wedding Season. So when you shop this week, make it worthwhile and shop for those weddings as well.

I headed to the Just Jewellery store expecting for a one-stop shop to all jewellery needs for the season, and I wasn’t disappointed. This ethnic-inspired store has the answer to all your needs for Indian accessories to take you through the season and beyond. Located close to Mumbai’s famous Mahalakshmi temple, the store is a little haven for the ladies who love semi-precious Indian jewellery. It’s especially a hot favourite for brides-to-be and guests headed to destination weddings.

As I walked into the store, I spotted vibrant colours, quintessential Indian styles with contemporary design elements. The Just Jewellery store houses gorgeous pieces of jewellery such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, kadas, and hair accessories.

Just Jewellery store Mumbai

While entrepreneur Jasmine Shah introduced me to the collection, I took in the statement necklaces, ornate earrings and super-cute rings. Keeping in line with current trends, there was plenty of play with colour and contrasting elements. For instance, bright orange with royal blue on a ring, or a Buddha motif with a wooden panel on earrings. Each piece has been made in Jaipur, using elements conceptualized or sourced by Jasmine and Sandhya Shah from across the globe (they are a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law duo). Jasmine was delighted to share that they don’t really visit Mumbai’s famous Zaveri Bazaar for their jewellery. I guess that’s what makes them stand apart in terms of design.

Jasmine also mentioned that they have private consultations for brides or anyone else who wants jewellery tailored to their specific needs.

While most of the jewellery is completely wearable and WOW, I’ve picked some pieces and styles from Just Jewellery that you could wear for Diwali and rest of the festive season.

An eye-catching necklace

The statement necklace could be multi-tiered, beaded or studded… all you need is the pizzazz to wear it. My favourites:

Just Jewellery necklaces

Just Jewellery statement necklaces

Traditional earrings

Kundan-style earrings are really popular right now and Just Jewellery has plenty of those. What I also also loved were traditional-looking earrings (with Indian-style beads or finishing) with a modern twist, such as a print or marble-textured pieces. Check out the ones I liked:

Just Jewellery kundan earrings

Just Jewellery cool earrings

Hair accessories

Clips, maang tikkas and even hair bands add a dash of luxury to any ensemble. If you don’t believe me, try one of them and you will feel like a royal. These are the choices of hair accessories… cool, huh?

Just Jewellery hair clips

Just Jewellery hair accessory

Hand ornaments

Bracelets, kadas and rings are easy to pair with any ethnic outfit, since they don’t need to be too matchy-matchy. I’d pick at least two of each for the festive season.

Just Jewellery bangles hand ornaments

Just Jewellery ethnic Indian rings

Some of the rings and bracelets from Just Jewellery could easily double up as accessories for Indo-western and boho-Indian looks. I’d easily wear this ring with a white shirt and skinny blue jeans!

Just Jewellery Ring

What jewellery are you looking to wear this festive season?

Pick of the Week: Cool kurtas to wear this Diwali

It’s Diwali week! I’ve always loved the Festival of Lights and especially enjoy dressing up for the festivities. As a kid, Diwali meant a shopping spree which was super tiring, but now I’m game for new clothes anytime. 🙂 And since Diwali is not limited to just one day, what you need in your wardrobe is a cool kurta. A lightly embellished kurta will see you through the extended festive weekend.

So here are my top picks for Diwali kurtas.

Kurta for women

Silk kurta Rs 3600 on Limeroad.com

This silk kurta with its self-embroidery effect has a luxurious feel, making it perfect for small family gatherings and card parties. Loving the colour and slightly glossy fabric finish!

Wear with: Contrast churidar and dupatta

Accessorise with: Kolhapuri wedges

Available at: Limeroad.com, Rs 3600

Kurta for men:

Striped-Aqua-Blue-Kurta from Jabong, Rs 3299

I was sold on this kurta for Diwali when I saw the lovely aqua blue. This embroidered kurta is perfect for the Diwali and Bhai Dooj celebrations at home, and you can wear it to upcoming wedding celebrations.

Wear with: Slim-fit pants or churidar

Accessorise with: Open-toed slip-ons

Available at: Jabong.com, Rs 3299

Foodhall: Where I got started on my “diet”

It’s embarrassing to say this on a public platform (I REALLY shouldn’t be saying this), but I’ve put on a LOT of weight over the past few months. But since the past couple of week, I’ve been on a mission to eat healthy, since I believe that exercise is only part of healthy living, and most of your health comes from what you eat. I don’t believe in counting calories as such, but eating the right food at the right time. But hey, that doesn’t excuse munching on French fries or digging into chocolate cake.

Anyways I headed to Food Hall @ Palladium last week to shop, and they are running a healthy food festival this month—they’re calling it “100% Healthy”. The store is putting the spotlight on various healthy foods across cuisines and courses, and there was plenty to choose.

Foodhall Healthy Snacks 1

Hot from the pan

The live counter near the entrance was up and running when I came in, and I tasted the dips (hummus, kale and pine nut pesto, Greek dip) and whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup. There were sin-less desserts too, but I skipped those. Further down on the left, there were plenty of awesome healthy options laid out ready to tempt me.

Yes, you can eat healthy from a packet

The packaged snacks had the usual suspects of whole wheat and roasted snacks, but with some interesting additions thrown in. There were baked nachos (yay!) and the very interesting sweet potato and beetroot chips (not fried, of course!).

Nachos Healthy Snacks

Fresh food is always high on taste

And right opposite the packaged goodies counter, there was a delightful range of freshly-made food to take home. Salads, no-sugar desserts and fruits were the usual suspects in this range, but I also loved the idea of including sushi and dips in this spread. And there was a wide variety of cheeses, with helpful nuggets of information about them.

Sushi at Foodhall

Fruit Platters at Foodhall

In my shopping bag

After tasting the dips at the live counter, I chose the fat-free caramelized onion and balsamic dip, to be eaten with the baked nachos. And for my on-the-go snack, I chose sweet potato chips. I’ve been munching on them on and off, and they are great for curbing those crazy sugar cravings. As for the dip and baked nachos, I haven’t spotted a drop of oil in them. The dip stayed perfect in the fridge for three days, and I had the two as a between-meal snack. The caramelized onion was a tad sweet, but filling enough to satiate my hunger, and the nachos were crunchy.

Signing off now, time for my mid-afternoon snack. A healthy one, of course! 🙂

In Mumbai, Food Hall is at Palladium (Lower Parel, Level 3). Food Hall is also at Bengaluru, New Delhi, Pune and Gurgaon.