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How To Style a Lengha

If you’re an Indian woman, chances are that you have a lengha sitting in your closet. It feels like such a shame to me that such a beautiful garment could be worn maybe once or twice and then completely forgotten. Which is why I decided to show you some ways to style a lengha.

Special thank you to my friends at Mallari Productions for such amazing photos.

First Look: Traditional Outfit 

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Second Look: Lengha Botton and tank top 

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Last Look: Lengha Top and Leather Skirt 

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Comment down below, which of the looks is your favorite? If you don’t already, make sure to follow my Instagram account to stay updated on my latest photos of outfits.

The Second hand Burberry Trench

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I never imagined I’d own a Burberry trench coat one day. $1,700 for the cotton version seemed like way to steep of a price tag and I would not pay $700 for the Polyester version.

And then I decided to try thrift store shopping in an attempt to slowly build up a more ethical closet. One day it suddenly hit me- a used burberry trench coat would be much cheaper than a new one. I decided to scour The Real Real and  passed by a lot of beautiful Burberry trench coats because I wasn’t financially willing to pay just yet. Let’s be honest, even a used Burberry trench coat is super expensive. I had even decided I didn’t need Burberry (which I still don’t) and purchased a used Zara trench on Tradesy for $40. Really expensive for a second hand Zara trench if you ask me but still less than the $200-700 used Burberry can sell for. The seller cancelled the order, I got my refund and decided it was a sign.

One day I pulled the trigger and I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did. You can watch an unboxing on my channel and see me like a little kid on Christmas. At $200 for the coat I honestly think it is worth every single penny. It looked brand new one when I received it, going to show how amazingly some people care for their items. I’m hoping this will be a piece in my closet for years to come.

Are there any designer items you’d love to have in your closet one day? Are you also a fashion lover like me? Do you think there’s anything wrong with owning crazy expensive pieces? Let me know in the comments down below.

Why Your Cheap Shirt is not actually that Cheap

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We’ve all been there, heck I still do this from time to time because how can we resist it? We get a clothing item on a crazy sale and we can’t help but feel like it’s an accomplishment and before you know it you have a closet full of clothes you don’t even really want and somehow never have anything to wear.

I’m reminded of $5 tops from H&M and my beautiful wool blend jacket from the Banana Republic Factory that I got for around $20 with a sale and an educator discount. (Okay that last one was an accomplishment)

The problem with praising cheap clothing is that it can change the way we view our items. As someone who has been trying to take a step away from fast fashion I’m challenged to actually spend more money on my clothing for products that are made with care, higher quality materials and support the people who maker them better.

Now, I still enjoy the occasional crazy steal. Like my BCBG jumpsuit that I wear endlessly but got thrifted for $7! I’ve already worn it maybe 4 times since I got it around a month ago making the cost per wear already around $1-2. If I keep wearing it (as I’m sure I will-as long as it doesn’t rip), I can get the cost per wear down to less than a dollar.

(Below, the infamous jumpsuit)

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I think about this all the time I need something like a cold weather jacket. Do I pay more for a higher quality jacket that is warmer or get a cheaper one that will just barely do the job. If I choose the cheap but on sale light winter jacket that maybe cost $20 but will last me a year and maybe 15 wears, it costs me $1.30 per wear for a product that didn’t work as well as I needed it to. But instead if I spend a little more and buy from a company like Patagonia with a lifetime warranty (and is ethical!) I might spend $100 for a jacket on sale but it could last me maybe 5 years before I decide I’m tired of it, or even longer. If I wore it 15 times each year and wore it for 5 years that would be 75 wears and would end up costing $1.33, almost the same as the cost of cheap jacket but now I’m supporting an ethical company and getting a high quality product and not contributing to ecological waste.

The truth of the matter is that cheap clothing isn’t as cheap as we’d like to think it is and I’m learning that sales aren’t that great if the product you end up with is subpar.

What are your thoughts? Would you still buy that cheaper item in the moment? Is my logic flawed in some way? Let me know in the comments down below.

Dining alone at The Ritz London

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While going out to eat with friends we would toy with the idea of dining alone. Would we dare? As if eating alone were some kind of accomplishment. But in a society in which many people are uncomfortable with themselves, in some ways I guess it is some sort of feat.

Some friends thought it seemed exciting, others said that it was something they would never want to do. Traveling alone to London has managed to teach me more about myself than I imagined, which is a topic I’ll explore more in upcoming blog posts. But today I wanted to write about dining alone at the Ritz, London.

At times I am exceptionally frugal, as evidenced by my decision to buy salads at grocery stores or cheap eats from Borough market for a lot of my trip. But I also love the occasional taste of luxury and at 57 pounds for an afternoon tea at The Ritz, London. It was definitely luxurious but worth every darn penny.

First of all, it is an experience. You start off with sandwiches and light desserts like a macaroon and lemon tart. You have your choice of tea and can add milk and little squares of sugar. Later you are given scones and jam and at the very end you have the choice of cake.

I often feel like spending time alone traveling is glamorized and as an extrovert/introvert I have to admit that I missed having a friend’s company. There were moments of awkwardness when realizing that there was no random conversation to fill the silence, just you and yourself. But there was also a feeling of freedom in taking as long or as little as I wanted to eat and feeling almost invincible in knowing there was a freedom in being in your own company with no-one to really judge you other than yourself.

Regardless, if you ever have the chance to ever have afternoon tea or afternoon tea at the Ritz, I couldn’t recommend it more.

 

The Problem with Combined Malayalam/English services, explained in a Songbook

I get it. There isn’t enough Youth or only English speaking people attending church meetings to justify a separate service. I understand the logistics but it doesn’t change the fact that combined services are ultimately unfair to those who attend. It all comes down to the song book. I just attended my first combined service in a long time and of 765 songs, 723 were in Malayalam.

If you have never attended a combined Malayalam/English service, let me explain. Malayalam is my mother tongue, the language spoken in Kerala, India. I don’t speak or really understand this language. My parents, as well as many of my friend’s parents came to this country and naturally wanted to attend a church that would speak their native language. It makes sense.

Their children grew up and didn’t feel the same familiarity with Malayalam or even grow up with the same jokes and culture and this ultimately created tension. Malayalam/English services don’t really work because regardless of how equal the service tries to break down time between the two languages, we still spend at least half of the service listening to a language we don’t understand. Or, I spend at least half of combined services listening to a language I don’t understand. They don’t work because we look at the songbooks, see the space left for the “English” part of the meeting and inherently know that the service isn’t for us, even if it claims to be.

Another problem is the fact that now, our English speaking youth or just our English speaking audience, has options. It’s hard to convince someone to compromise and try to enjoy a service when we can go to so many different churches and hear a message that is catered for an English speaking audience. But the only reason why I, like many others, have chosen to stay is because I have a heart for the Indian church. I have a heart for those children who grow up and may miss out on God in between the parts they didn’t understand in a service that was only in part geared for them.

On my end I accept that I should grow in maturity. Towards the end of the service, I just didn’t want to listen to a message translated to English. The messages never seems to have the same impact. But I also hold unto a hope for a better future. I hope that we have enough youth committed to justify a separate service. I pray for opportunities for those youth to have a voice in pivotal conversations. Because I love ending service and seeing my mom and dad afterwards, but I still want to attend a service specifically geared for me and others like me.

Thoughts on Keeping Up with The Joneses

 

To this day, I am shamed by my brother because of a letter I wrote back in high school. My Sunday School teacher at the time had challenged our class to write letters to God asking for things we really want. Sit back and watch how God provides.

I wrote a letter to God asking for Ugg boots and I got them.  But that isn’t the point. My middle/high-school self really struggled with keeping up the Joneses, a concept to read more about here. As an adult I need to remind myself that there is beauty to living in God’s unique provisions for our lives and living our lives for ourself, not impressing others.

There will never be enough “stuff” 

You would think that after my mom surprised me with Ugg boots that I would be thrilled and stop asking for such expensive items, and I was excited but just for some time. What kinda makes me laugh today is the fact that before seeing those boots on practically every girl at my school, I never thought they were pretty. I have my own adult version of that with Louis Vuitton bags. I used to cringe when I saw them but now look to them was adoration.

The ugg boots were great for a moment but then I wanted so low pants and a Juicy couture suit and an Ed Hardy shirt and the list goes on. I would drag my mom to the mall and try to find the cheapest shirt with Aeropostale written across the chest. I kept wanting and asking for things hoping these items would somehow buy me social acceptance. Luckily my mom never indulged any of my other requests. I couldn’t understand why other people could afford these things that I so badly wanted and didn’t understand that my parents were investing in other things that I couldn’t see. They gave money to our church, family members in need and visiting ministers. They could see that  the things I wanted weren’t necessary but I couldn’t at the time.

We can miss out on what’s better 

There is nothing wrong with material belongings but we can miss out on God’s unique provisions for our lives. If we stretch our budgets so thin to buy that purse that make us look a certain way- are we happy? I’m all for spending money on quality items but that decisions should be motivated by other reasons. Like buying from companies that are ethical or present high quality goods. Or because we like to express our own unique style, not because we want to present a certain image.

So if you’re like me and struggle with the need to keep with the Joneses, I challenge you and myself to look at our unique desires and ask ourselves why we really want an item. Is it self expression or is it self promotion? With that being said, I still have a pretty long Pinterest Wishlist board! But I hope that overtime it becomes more and more of what I personally desire.

She Gets It From Her Mama

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In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would share six of the best things I have inherited from my mama. Not everything we learn from our parents is good and there is lots of room for growth in reflecting and changing, but I believe we are placed in certain homes for a reason and I feel so grateful for my mother. Whether we realize it or not, our parents have a huge influence on us and these are some of the ways my mom has impacted me for the better.

1.Don’t let others label you 

I was recounting a story to my mother about a friend’s birthday. Three of my friends attended together and didn’t know the rest of the people at the party. We left the dinner as a group and in passing I commented that it so surprising that all of the people at our friend’s party were so darn good looking. To which my friend replied, “yeah- what were we doing there?” It was a passing joke but it unearthed an insecurity I didn’t realize I had. I tried not think much about it and told my mom the story during one of our usual phone calls. In that moment she told me, “No, don’t let her label you.” And that’s something she has always taught me. Others may want to decide I’m “less than” for whatever reason but my mom has always made me feel like I am worth something.

Years ago in high school, my mom provided the same guidance to a friend of mine. This friend was heavier and we were talking about senior photos and she said something along the lines of how she didn’t want to take too many pictures and take up too much time and seemed insecure because of her weight. My mom told her that she should never be afraid to take up time. She should go there, dress up and take as many photos and she wanted to. My mom refused to think that something like weight should be the reason why she didn’t enjoy her senior photos.

2. Your opinion matters

For as long as I was able to speak, my mother has always asked me what I thought. Granted, she doesn’t always want to hear my opinion and has told me to shut it but whether she likes it or not 😉  she has fostered a natural desire in me to share my ideas. I have learned to speak up at church if something didn’t feel right. I have never entered a conversation feeling like I don’t have something of worth to contribute. In fact, I was so surprised to learn that many people don’t feel like they have something to share in groups settings. I have always learned the value of my thoughts. My mom has taught me that my ideas are worthwhile and often asks me for advice. I think because I was raised to believe I knew something, somewhere along the way I began to share ideas of worth. (Or at least I think they’re important!)

3.  Love those who love you 

Growing up, I naturally wanted to always be friends to with the popular people. My mom always stopped me and said- love those who love you. From that advice I have found the most loyal friends and never found myself trying to be friends with someone who didn’t care for me. I’ve never chased after friendships but instead look to the people who watch out for me.

4. Slow down. 

I am so impulsive. If I decide I’m angry at someone, I throw a fit. I want to thrown in the towel on something I’ve worked hard for. Again and again I’ve learned to wait before my big grand decisions and think through my decisions. I’ve learned the 24 hour rule before sending an angry letter. I am reminded again and again to be patient and slow down.

5. Never leave the house without a good lip color and some mascara 

Everyday, my mom wakes up at 5am. She does her makeup, put on her clothes that she has ironed and planned out a week in advance. She takes time slowly in the morning, enjoys breakfast and shows up early to work. I’m more of the type of person to wake up with 30 minutes to get ready when I really need an hour and rush out the door, making it to work with a minute to spare.

But regardless of our differing morning routines, one thing I’ve always learned from her is presenting myself well. I don’t always succeed and there are days I get lazy but I’ve never seen my momma out in public like a mess. She never let me go out without perfectly groomed hair and a cute outfit. Things went awry when I started dressing myself… But I still learned the basics of good style from her.

6. Trust in God 

I am a natural worry wart. I constantly share my concerns, to which my mom has always responded, trust in God. Will I be able to pay for _____? Trust in God. Will I get this job? Trust in God. Will everything work out? Trust in God. It’s hard to understand fully but this advice offers my natural worrying nature a feeling of peace. I can always trust in God.

I am so grateful for my mom! What lessons have you learned over the years? Comment down below. I hope you had an amazing mother’s day.