Tag Archives: the basic closet

Oversized Block Print Shirt

I cannot believe Fall is here already! Daylight Saving Time ends on 2nd Nov; that is a painful reminder that good days are over.

Each time of the day, including peak afternoons, is accompanied by cold winds; the sun is hiding behind clouds.

Gosh, summer is really over!

This whole week, I have been layering and covering myself completely because not just outside, inside of my workplace is freezing too. Well, not exactly freezing, but that’s how it has been feeling.

Of course Fall dressing can be fun – plaids, infinity scarves and boots. But it also makes me sloppy and immobile. I also dislike wearing jeans the whole day. I crave the freedom summer provides.

Summer is 5 months away and I am already longing for it. Not good!

Here is my outfit post from 2 weeks ago. Even though mornings were nippy, afternoons were scorching hot. I bought this Ann Taylor shirt recently and even though it is one or two sizes bigger, I enjoy wearing it. Oversized shirts look great tucked-in into pants or skirts. I also like the fact that it is block printed. A wonderful ethnic touch to a casual Californian look.

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Shirt: Ann Taylor

Shorts: Gifted (from Bangkok)

Necklace: The Basic Closet

Shoes: Catwalk

Pattern Play

Have you ever been so taken with a TV series, film or novel that you look for its instances and scenes in real life? I have been greatly influenced by.. hold it… Tom & Jerry cartoons!

Oh yes. I have perhaps watched too much of them, not just in school, but even later on. I can still watch the episodes I remember by heart and laugh as much. I remember scenes; I remember common instances that appear regularly on the cartoon. And I keep comparing my real life to it. I mean, really.

Like, we went to this Persian restaurant the other day and they served turnip with kabobs. I remembered an episode of T & J where Jerry goes shopping inside a fridge for food (for his magician uncle) and puts in Tom’s nose in his cart. When Tom taps him from behind and points to the place where his nose once was, Jerry quickly removes something from his cart and hands over to Tom. Tom attaches it to his face only to realize that it’s a turnip.

Yup, turnip reminds me of that.

How Tom’s face becomes flat when hit with a pan. How tom fluffs up his pillow before dozing off on it (I do the same with my cushions). And so on.

(Should I be embarrassed that I do things that Tom, the cat, a fictitious cartoon character does too?)

Lately, Law & Order obsession has taken over me. I talk to my husband often as ‘If Jack McCoy heard you say this, he would have said…’ or ‘Goren would have found out about this in minutes…) or ‘I saw a suspicious looking guy outside my gym today; I noted down his bag, clothes, etc in case I am called as a witness’. I actually have a deep desire to be contacted as a witness in a crime or such. Every time a van drives by me, I try to observe its color, painting, etc. If I see workers working on roofs or in gardens, I look at their faces.

I am perhaps going crazy over it. I feel so close with those characters and expect to see them around me in real life.

I have always been fond of murder mysteries; so watching 2 or 3 one hour episodes in a row is no surprise. But getting so carried away by fictional stories and characters.. well, this is something new.

Do you have any such imaginations to share? Or are they too scandalous to tell?

Outfit details:

Jacket: The Basic Closet

Jeans: Bossini

Floral top: Valleygirl (Au)

Shoes: Singapore

Bead necklace: Colaba Causeway

Bracelets: Street finds Bangalore, Baroda

Lipstick: Piccadilly Pink, Rimmel London

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The Story of Block Prints

Block printing originated in China about 2000 years ago. In India, this art became popular in the 12th century in Rajasthan (a western state of India). The royals wore rich costumes featuring intricate motifs. Textile printing later flowed into the neighbouring state of Gujarat (the state immediately south of Rajasthan and also my home state). Indigo seeds have been discovered at the ancient archaeological sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Even today, indigo and white is the most common and popular color combination in block printed fabric.

Block printed fabric is very visible in Gujarat in the form of home decor products like table cloth, bedsheets, cushion covers, wall hangings as well as clothing like saris. A very typical motif used is paisley. It is known as ‘keri’ in India, which means raw mango. Indeed, paisley looks like raw mango and that’s how the motif originated. Other popular motifs were peacocks, horses, birds and flowers. Now, of course, prints have become wilder and quirkier. There are abstract prints, geometric designs and even pop art.

Block printing was originally done using wooden blocks. You will be amazed to know that in many parts of India, even now this method is used. It is what gives the print a rustic, ancient look.

Wooden block printing is a very time-consuming method and requires a lot of precision and skill. Motifs, patterns and border designs are manually printed on using wooden blocks. The colors cannot overlap, motifs cannot be unevenly placed and there cannot be strike-offs. One has to wait for a section to dry before the next one can be printed (to avoid overlap or rubbing off of colors). But this is what makes the art so unique and valuable.

Nowadays, chemical dyes are very common but originally vegetable and plant dyes were used. They were organic and very natural. Even today, most of Rajasthan and Gujarat printed textiles use organic colors. This is the reason why colors tend to run off when washed. But again, the beauty of these fabrics comes from use of earthy colors like indigo, dark green, rust, red and mustard. These are the colors of the royals of the past and Indian art.

I have been greatly smitten by the motifs and patterns of block printing because I have grown up seeing and wearing them. When I worked in Maharashtra (another western state of India) and was always decked up in pretty block print Indian wear, my female colleagues were all in awe. I used to take tons of stuff for them every time I returned from a vacation at home.

Block print may have shied away from the dynamic and modern fashion world but I feel it is evergreen. We do see it here and there; it stands out from the rest of the swarm.

My clothing line is all about printed cottons – some of them are very typical ethnic block prints and some are contemporary. You can totally wear them with today’s fashion pieces because I think blocks prints are here to stay.

Presenting my favourite printed skirt from my line. Hope you like it.

Available for sale on my Etsy shop or Facebook page.

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block print skirt 2

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Something’s Cooking

I have pondered over this idea over a long time now. Lot of contemplations went behind whether it would work or not; whether I was doing the right thing or not. But finally it is here. Because this has been my dream for such a long time. This is what I wanted to do even though my chosen path seemed to be leading me elsewhere.

In fact, this dream, idea had been in my subconscious mind throughout my growing years.

I chose a ‘good girl’s’ path for my career. I did my graduation in Commerce, went ahead to get a MBA and then worked in the world of Corporate for a pretty long time. Corporate made me slog. But it also gave me comforts I had only imagined. Clothes and shoes every week, eating out almost every day, a gadget every now and then, a foreign vacation every year. Ah! What luxury!

But somewhere, there was this huge empty space. I had the money and luxury. Still, all the hard work never really paid off. Even if it did, it did not satisfy me. There were other things that I was passionate about; things that tried to grab my energy and attention. And were often successful. Fashion, for example. I have always loved dressing up. After I got the power of money in my hands, I turned into a shopaholic. If I look back at my growing years, it explains a lot. I have always been fond of dressing up – shoes, bangles, earrings and sarees, to be more exact.

And when I did not have money, I recycled. I re-used and recycled clothes (like patialas and dupattas) belonging to my Mother and Aunts.

My creative side was bursting to surface. Corporate didn’t give much scope for that. I wanted to play with colors. I wanted to take splendid photographs. I wanted to travel. I wanted to look good.

That’s when the idea of designing clothes first took birth. I thought, someday, I will turn designer and have my own line of clothes. And even that time I knew I wanted to work on Indian prints, colors and textures.

Since the last 1.5 years, I have been studying Fashion. It is another world altogether, believe me. It has been so interesting and so challenging.

So.. that someday has arrived. It’s here, finally. My own label.

MY. OWN. LABEL.

Oh My God!

I am dying to share it with you guys but for start, here is the sneak peek.

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