Confessions of a Shopaholic

I’ve been getting a little antsy lately. The reason? I haven’t shopped in a looooong time. One of my resolutions this year, was to curb my shopping instincts, so that it is easy on the wallet, as also use all of the clothes I have accumulated.

“Would it help if you were to use the entire closet, and I moved my stuff to the other room’s closet?”, H asked me over the weekend.

“Hmmm… I would rather you did not. I like having my ethnic wear separated”, I replied.

Which starts a whole new topic by itself. In recent times, every time one of us goes home, we come back with loads of love showered on us in the form of sarees and kurtas. Of course, it goes without saying that the ratio of my clothes to H’s is 5:1.

Instagram does not help much. I haven’t had the heart to ‘unfollow’ some of the brands I follow. I have been ogling and drooling over some of the sarees and jewelry posted, that I have had a very hard time saying “NO!” to myself from contacting the curators. In a way, the website carts help. I get about 70% satisfaction in just zeroing in on stuff, and adding them to a cart. When it comes to  checkout, the effort to close the tab has been comparatively easier!

In my defense, I am not a waster. I don’t buy stuff, just to throw them away or give them away at a later date, with 0-3 uses. My personal style and comfort have always been the foremost decision making tools when I buy stuff (well, almost!). Though I may get something that is at a store because that’s the trend then, I wear them even long after it is out of style in my own way. I still have clothes from my university days. This is more or less like my mom and aunts dealing with their sarees. A saree never leaves your wardrobe till it is tattered or no longer comfortable, or you find someone to give it away to. My cousins and I are very much into this ‘maximization’ aspect of buying clothes. What cannot or would not be worn by us because we just grew tired of it, or grew a size bigger goes to the next person in line.

But it is truly hard to justify why we shop. And trust me, I have been asked this question several times (mostly by the males in the family, and usually the same person, more than at least fifty times). I would tell H, “We can get ten pairs of shoes in the money you spend for one of yours!”, but it is hard to be that vehement with arguments when the issue of space crops up.

Believe it or not, I had a similar ‘no-shop resolution’ situation when I was in school and was curbing my wild spending on clothes. I went shopping with friends who were looking for something specific, and shopping for/with them, really did help!

Now, back to the present. After months of getting tempted looking at new clothes, and a tough exam to prepare for, I open up my Instagram and in one shot get three lovely sarees and a few accessories that I have been drooling over for a while now. I justify my buy saying that online shopping for Indian clothes wasn’t part of the deal, and this is my venting (also read coping) mechanism.

An hour later, I find myself guilty.

I have given this some very serious thought, and wondered how I can stay excited while also going easy on my wallet. May, being the month of sustainable fashion, I make a new resolution, and I still pray hard that I stick to this. Now here is the idea.

I have given myself mini-projects to continuously stay enthusiastic about the resolution, while also helping deal with my rehabilitation. The coming year will be the year of new saree releases that I bought (nothing can be done now, about this part), as also a year of sustainable saree wearing.

  1. I have re-arranged my closet to move hangers to the end as I wear my clothes, so as to wear every single one of my clothes.
  2. I subscribed to Stitch Fix a few months back. While I found their clothes a little expensive, I loved how the stylist completely understood my style from my answers in the questionnaire, and my Pinterest board. My stylist even picked clothes that looked similar to my pins. The best part of my package, was the styling card. There were three different ways I could style the piece of clothing that she sent me. I would highly recommend this to people who do not like shopping, want a hassle-free experience, who don’t have time to shop, and who don’t mind spending a little extra for nicer clothes, that fit great. Pinterest is quite the savior too for styling clothes. So my next idea is to find new ways to style the hundred or so individual pieces of clothing, and accessories I have. This has already gotten me excited, and another post on styling will shortly follow.
  3. I read up recently about the KonMari method of de-cluttering. Several people have sworn that this method works. While I would love to get in touch with most of them to see if two years down the road, they missed any of the things they threw out even once, I do think they were brave enough to give it a shot. I choose the word brave because 90% of my clothes have memories associated with them. Be it something I picked out for a lot lesser than I expected to pay for it, to more significant first dates, and first gifts. Somehow looking at my clothes and thinking if it brings me joy,  and then to throw it away, is so not my character. I probably would swear that every single piece had me ecstatic. H had to threaten me a few times with public shunning, or refusal to walk with me before I threw away my comfortable cotton t-shirts that I wore around the house because of all the fading. Giving does give me a warm feeling. I spent an afternoon pulling out jeans that I grew out of but hoped to fit into one day, dresses I had bought while in school, gifts from room mates that I had worn a million times but were still wearable another hundred times, bags that I hardly used because I have only three go-to bags, and bundled them into packages to give away.
  4. I segregated my blacks and whites. I can never have enough of these. I am sure a lot of people can vouch for this. They are extremely versatile! Mental note to self here.
  5. During my next India trip, I will, no doubt, come back with a bunch of clothes. This time around though, I will be back with a bunch of sarees that belonged to the mothers and paatis. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra.

Again, this is an idea put on paper, that has its foundations laid, and scratch work going on to it. I truly hope to stick to my plans, and check back with you all in a year’s time.

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Now chant with me, “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle“.

 

 

 

 

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My wedding trousseau 👰

I stood by my closet looking at all the sarees I had accumulated over just two trips to India. This time, I was trying to think of which new saree to “release” for the wedding day. This year looks like a year of purples, mix and match saree and blouse combos, and ready-made blouses!

Not long ago, I splurged a little on a few hand-loom sarees after much ogling and drooling over some Instagram pictures. My argument for doing so – “I am finally picking out my own sarees!” Well, this is true to an extent. Right from the moment it was decided that I was going to wear my first ever saree for my high school farewell event, I was all about raiding closets – my mom’s, paati‘s, athai‘s and chithi‘s.

Then once family deemed me fit to wear sarees, they started gifting them to me. Once I was in the USA, there was calm and quiet and no saree shopping for three whole years. Then appa gifted me a few after my whining about not having my own saree collection. It was not until my wedding that I picked my own saree.

H and family kept me as involved as they could with the decision making process. They would send me pictures on WhatsApp, describe the material as best as they could and ask me for suggestions on which shop to go to. This was a lot, but it was still not the same as looking at a pile of sarees, and seeing that one saree for you stand out, putting your hands on the material, feeling it, fake-draping it on yourself, thinking about what blouse patterns you would get stitched, when you would inaugurate it, and….you get the idea?!

I made life tough for everyone involved in my wedding shopping. I know it, even when they don’t spell it out. I mean, the bride doesn’t want silk?! That’s totally unheard of, in a tambrahm wedding! To top it, I wanted to wait to meet the tailor in person to get my blouses stitched and patterns, chosen. The saree picked out had to fit the grandeur of the ceremonies, should catch everyone’s eyes, and come on, the bride has to look like the bride!

When H’s family asked me for my favorite color to get me an engagement day saree, “Black!” I responded. I knew then that black was completely off the table for all wedding related activities. So cool were H’s parents, that they picked out the very first wedding saree in black (chosen by husband dearest), and only requested that I don’t wear it for any of the wedding events. I was free to wear it for any other thala (first year) functions though. Thus, it became my thala-pongal release!

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Coming back to the E-day saree, I was the simple bride dressed in a kora-cotton magenta saree. I love how the zari in the saree was all a non-shimmering thread work, and no one can go wrong with this color for any event! Some Indians think that showing a colorful India is stereotyping, but I am proud of the fact that our weddings are so colorful, we wear bold magentas, mango-yellows and peacock-blues with panache! The saree I was originally supposed to wear was a vibrant blue, that appa forgot to pack! ROFL! Way to start off with sambandis!

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I used this opportunity to wear that silk cotton saree (in most cases cotton mixed with a little silk) for my vratham (the first prayers before the wedding ceremonies begin).I loved how H’s maami and paati chose this minimal zari saree cotton-silk, just for its color. I think this may be a good place to explain why I don’t prefer silk.

I knew all along where silk came from, I still wear silk if it belonged to my paati/ amma for the memories that the saree holds for me. I still sense their smell and picture them in my memory of them wearing it. When it came to getting sarees for myself though, it felt like an unnecessary killing of thousands of fetuses to drape this beautiful, and vibrantly dyed garment around myself. The more I started giving this thought, and researched alternatives, I did see loop holes to wear something close to a grand wedding saree. I could always compensate with the elegance, or the jatang-color.

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The electric blue!!

My wedding trousseau still involved two heavy silk sarees, from H’s family. I am still touched by how best they tried to find other options for me, and made my ahimsa-silk nine yard wonder!  After showing me several ahimsa silk sarees, and not being convinced themselves, with how it looked and with the color palettes (sad how few options there are), we settled for two silk sarees (one chosen by amma and one by H).

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One of my silks, with a heavily embroidered blouse.

I got to pick two sarees for the wedding, all on my own! Oh how I enjoyed this sweet ordeal! In general, I decide on a whim- I just know it! You must have heard a lot girls talking about how the dress/ saree called out to them? They are not joking!  And I knew it too, the moment I laid my eyes on the ahimsa-silk soft apple green /beige saree from Nalli. This saree needs a separate blog post on its own! The other saree was a silk cotton chosen for the oonjal/ kasi yatra. I had to battle for that one. I chose a kanakambara color (mild orange) and pista green saree, while everyone else loved a kili-pachchai (parrot green) with a brinjal colored border. The two sarees had similar patterns. Finally the father of the bride weighed in on the decision, and the orange one it was, after much speculations with both sarees held out to daylight out in the open, draped and compared on different mirrors and a few pallu inspections later!

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Maybe not a pista green, more golden than anything else? The Border a beautiful coral. Paired with the morning’s traditional temple jewellery with kemp stones.

The wedding trousseau is always close to a girl’s heart! I dream of days when my daughters, nieces and even my sisters will raid my very own saree collection, form memories with them, talk about how their mom/ aunt/ sister picked it out for her wedding, and maybe just maybe take a saree-fie with me? B-)