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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Three incarnations, One velvet top

3/29/2018 0 Comments
Hello loves!

As informed before, I recently moved to Sydney, Australia. It's beautiful out here and everything seems really convenient as compared to India. The air is always fresh and waking up to birds chirping in your backyard is definitely a blessing. But I do miss my family and friends terribly. I have also had to part ways with most of my clothes. I was allowed only 40 kgs on the plane, so I had to leave behind so many things. It's sad, but life goes on.

Storage has always been a big concern for me since I tend to shop more than my closet can handle. I guess that's the story of every shopaholic. When I was younger, I had no money to buy fancy clothes and moreover, my folks did not encourage me to wear fitted denims or pencil skirts. I promised myself that when I'd grow up, I'd buy myself every outfit I had ever dreamed of wearing, some of which I'd end up wearing once or probably never. Unfortunately that became an obsession and five years later, there was a tsunami of clothes in my bedroom.

Now that I know what the problem is, I have given away a lot of clothes I don't use anymore and I have learnt how to reuse the same piece in multiple ways. You already must have seen how I've been reusing jumpsuits, sarees, skirts etc. in different ways and this time I have three avatars for you using this velvet oversized top I picked up from H&M in Santa Barbara for $7 or so. It was love at first sight with this one and because I use this at least two to three times in a month, I decided to give it a twist each time.

Look # 1: Perky princess
Are you someone who likes a lot of pinks and feminine colors or just colors in general? Don't buy an exclusive outfit to fulfill your desires, instead just transform your old sweatshirt or any basic tee that you have by adding a pop of color to it. Experiment with bling as well and do your make-up in pinkish hues. I have kept comfort in mind and worn the top with baggy ripped jeans and used colorful accessories. Perfect for college, don't you think?

Denims - Max
Earrings - Shoppers Stop
Shoes - Koovs
Sling bag - Bag Tales
Sunnies - Fasttrack

Look # 2: Grunge guru
Always up for more neutral looks? Maybe throw in some smokey eyes? Do you feel the pain? Then try wearing everything black with your top. This option is almost free since you have to just team up your top with leggings that have always been lying around in your wardrobe. Add a choker to give it a gothic vibe.

Leggings - Shoppers Stop
Bellies - Shoppers Stop
Choker - BTM Street Shopping

Look # 3: Corporate chick
Who said you cannot wear an oversized top to work? Just bun up your hair, pull out your heels, a fitted skirt and a classy bag and a watch and boom! You are good to rock any meeting that comes your way. Roll up those sleeves a bit to give your top a better fit.

Velvet shorts - BTM Street Shopping
Bag - Charles & Keith
Pumps - Zaful
Watch - Fossil

If there's one thing I have learnt from blogging these last couple of years, it's to be creative with whatever I have. Don't try to blow all your money on one outfit, instead try to create multiple looks with one outfit. We have been reading all about sustainable fashion and how it's good for the environment. Let's do our bit. Shop less, but create more looks.

Hand On The Hip

Friday, 23 March 2018

Quick comfortable outfit ideas for Indian weddings

3/23/2018 0 Comments
Hey everyone!

What's the one thing that's always flooding your social media feed when you are in your late 20s? Weddings! Well, yeah. In the past 2-3 years I have attended at least 10-15 weddings, including my own. Hehe. While being the bride has its own pressure of looking amazing on the big day, it's also quite a big deal for the best friend to look presentable. While some people come for the food and the cake, there are some others who come to check out what everyone is wearing. It gets tiring and heavy on the pockets to buy a new outfit every single time. Although I have loads of new silk sarees just lying there in my cupboard, it's tiring and annoying to wear them on my own. If you've seen my posts on Instagram, you'll know that I went all the way to Bangla land for one wedding and less than a month later, I was eating dhoklas at a wedding in Gujju land. I am pretty sure in the next couple of years, I will be doing a North India tour solely for weddings. So I have come up with an Ethnic Wear Look Book for those of you who like to travel light, not spend a dime for new outfits, mix n match and look fabulous!

Sizzle in an ethnic gown
Why always wear a saree or a lehenga? Sometimes an ethnic gown or an anarkali gown does the job too! Try and collect pieces like these that are super comfy and are gorgeous. This is perfect for a mehendi or a sangeet function and easy to sway in. If you want to look a little more decked up, you can either accessorize heavily or pick up a gown that's more shimmery.

Yellow to the rescue
Yellow sarees have always been my true love. I have always wanted to own a plain yellow chiffon saree that I could wear with different blouses. I picked this one up because I knew how much I'd enjoy wearing it. What I love about this is that you could wear this with possibly any color! This outfit is perfect for a haldi ceremony. Also, you don't have to stick to yellow. I'd say, buy plain chiffon sarees in as many colors as possible.

Let the blouse do all the talking
Of late, I have felt that it's better to invest in a well tailored blouse than a heavy saree. A nicely embroidered blouse with a unique design always catches everyone's attention. I got this made for my sangeet lehenga, but because the tailors ruined it, I had to stash this away. However, I wore this to a friend's wedding and wore a simple chiffon saree to keep the attention on the blouse. Having blouses in various colors and patterns could be really useful.

Clean out that closet
My mum wears a saree to work everyday and she has a massive collection of sarees from all over the country. I always find myself raiding her wardrobe at the last minute trying to find a suitable saree for random functions. Now it's gotten even better with my sister-in-law being around as she has a splendid collection of saree blouses and we both are the same size. Yay! So, if you have generous family members like I do, try to mix and match and see what works best for you.

Bling bang
I've seen that not many women wear fancy sarees these days and have been investing in traditional silk sarees instead. Although silk sarees look classy, they are definitely a pain to drape when you are on your own. I always find blingy and grand fancy sarees a more suitable option for night weddings and they can act as a perfect substitute to a heavy silk saree.

Slide into a skirt
Crop top and a long ethnic skirt have taken the ethnic game to another level. You could use an old saree from mum's closet and get a skirt stitched. If you are uncomfortable showing your belly, you can always get a dupatta. I think it looks really elegant and is very sassy.

Simplicity is underrated
If you absolutely don't like to dress up, then just pick up a bright colored kurti ands wear it with chudi pants. Sometimes an elegant looking kurti can look amazing in a setting where not all eyes are on you and you just want to be dressed appropriately without stealing the bride's thunder.

Some more ideas
  • Palazzos have become poplar among young girls and even older women. Wearing a pair of palazzos with a cute ethnic crop top or a long kurti could work really well for some pre-wedding functions.
  • A long ethnic jacket would look amazing on some dhoti pants and a plain kurti inside it. Complete the look with some jhutis and you're ready to roll.
  • Gold and silver are usually those festive colors you need to play with. Anything bling for that matter can be useful while creating your ethnic ensemble. 
Total ethnic wear turn-offs
  • A sharara really puts me off. I mean, what is that? You can either be a skirt or pants. The need to be both is weird. The most irritating ones are those which have bell bottoms starting from the thighs.
  • Puff-sleeved blouses can be a terrible idea. You need to be really fit to be able to pull that off. I've noticed some women with chubby arms trying to wear 'em and look more plump than they already are. I'd like to keep a safe distance from these blouses.
  • Bikini top for a blouse is yet another disaster in my opinion. That is definitely not for everyone!

I hope this post was useful. Ethnic wear and I have come a long way. From being a top-to-bottom jeans girl who wouldn't be caught dead in anything Indian to someone who's always hunting for ethnic pieces wherever she goes, I have definitely evolved. When I can't buy 'em, I tend to create 'em. Always try to be creative with your outfits because that way you'll be the only one wearing it. And don't forget to pose with your hand on your hip and get a picture taken :)

Have fun at all the upcoming weddings!

Hand On The Hip

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Viva Las Vegas!

3/20/2018 0 Comments
Hello! Hello!

After going through my hard disk, Google drive and e-mail a hundred times and making an actual list of all my pending posts, I finally decided to begin with my USA posts. It has been almost a year since I spent two wonderful weeks in America and boy, the memories are etched in my heart ever. Just to refresh your memory a bit, here's a recap of my trip so far. If you know me, you'll know that I love traveling and I try to squeeze in as much as I can in my itinerary and that most of the trip planning happens just a couple of days before the trip. After spending a week in SF, Mountain View and Palo Alto, we had booked our tickets to the Sin City during the week. We had come so far, there was no way were gonna go back without partying in Vegas!

Ideally, one would go to Vegas to blow off some steam. Back in the day, the phrase "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" was used every time someone wanted to do something naughty and not talk about it later. One would imagine Vegas is all about strip clubs, slot machines, weddings that should not have happened and lots of intoxication. That was my thought too. But when I got an opportunity to explore it myself, I was stunned. Vegas is much more than that! The Vegas experience I had did not include any of the cool stuff that is usually shown on TV or in the movies and I had a tonne of fun.

After a couple of lattes and some research on the internet, we figured that there were two quick yet inexpensive ways to fly to Las Vegas, Nevada from where we were put up. The first option was a very predictable one - taking an Uber to SFO and flying from there. That was expensive though. The second was to take an Uber to Oakland and fly from there. We packed our bags and took like 2-3 am flight which was super cheap ($50 or something), but did not include check-in baggage, so we ended up spending some more cash on that. A couple of my friends flew in from Cleveland and we had so much fun that we eventually ended up missing our flights back!

Day 1: Red Rock Canyon

We reached Vegas early in the morning and had booked a really cheap hotel (approx. $100 a night) called Longhorn Casino Hotel. It was a little away from the city, but my friends rented a car at the airport itself. The temperature is like a thousand degrees, so don't forget your summer clothes and sunscreen if you wish to go there. The moment we entered the hotel, we were walked into a massive casino! Yes, the lobby of the hotel was a casino! :D We chilled in the hotel for a bit, showered, got dressed and drove away to glory. We drove to the magnificent Red Rock Canyon, which is a must-visit if you are ever in Vegas. After spending a few hours there, we returned to the city and rushed to the Strip.

Day 1: The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch that consists of all the famous hotels like The Bellagio and casinos in Vegas. The hotels have interesting themes based on countries like Greece, France, Venice and every hotel is equipped with a casino. After all, it's Vegas, baby! Although we couldn't really stay in any of these super expensive hotels, we spent the day walking around the strip, visiting these hotels, gambling in various casinos (I won $9 :D) and eating Biryani! :D Food was/is always a major problem for me outside India since I am a vegetarian. Surprisingly, every city had Indian restaurants with refreshingly delicious biryani! I belted some vegetable pulao while my mates had some chicken biryani.          


Day 1: David Guetta concert at XS

We ended the day by hitting this club called XS for a David Guetta concert. I remember we spent only $25 for the concert tickets. (Yeah, it's way cheaper than India!) I am a big fan of David Guetta and somehow never got the chance to watch him perform live. Although he made an appearance at 3 am, after we were miserably exhausted from all the partying, we managed to enjoy a couple of tracks and crashed immediately after we got to the hotel. Sadly, I don't post videos here. You'll have to wait for my vlog for that!


Day 2: Hoover Dam

On the second day, we had an early start. We quickly freshened up, picked up some coffee and breakfast at Denny's and took off to Arizona. You must be wondering why we did that. Well, we just had to check Grand Canyon off the bucket list! We started driving and stopped at Hoover Dam, the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere situated over 700 feet above the Colorado River. The dam was named after America's 31st president, Herbert Hoover and has a breathtaking view.

Day 2: Grand Canyon

Finally after driving for a couple of hours, we reached our destination - The Grand Canyon. Now there are various ways you can do this. Most hotels have a pamphlet that will let you book conducted tours for hundred odd dollars which also includes pick-up from the hotel. Since we already had a car, we decided to drive all the way and then buy tickets just for the bus tour that took us all the way to the Canyon. There are various ways you can go about it - by air, by road or by water. Our tour started with the exploration of the Hualapai Ranch and ended at the Sky Walk where we could see the Grand Canyon from underneath the glass. The view was beautiful beyond imagination and definitely makes one feel really calm.


Day 3: Fremont Street

On the last day of our trip, we spent some time at Fremont Street. This street is filled with casinos, restaurants and bars. You can also pick up some souvenirs from here. I got a top for myself and some shot glasses to give away. Zip lining across the street seemed to be something that everyone was doing and we also witnessed some live music. Sadly, for us, the street was not as lively as it would have been later in the night. However, we did manage to enjoy ourselves. My friend threw me a mini bachelorette at one of the bars. We spent the day in casinos and drank some yummy fruit based cocktails and took off to LAX that evening. Although we missed out first flight, what I like best about the US is that they accommodate you in the upcoming flight if there are seats for free! So we took the next one after 20 mins and reached LA in peace.



I never imagined Las Vegas is more than just partying and drunken weddings in chapels where an Elvis lookalike is the priest. Being this nocturnal gremlin that I am, I like how the city comes to life at night. Not only does this place have plenty of mountains and canyons with breathtaking views, but the commercialized parts of the city has so much color and fun things to offer. It's literally my fave city in the US and if you like some variety, you should definitely plan a trip to Vegas.

Hand On The Hip

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

How to start a blog - The ugly truth!

3/13/2018 0 Comments
Hi there!

This April my precious blog is going to turn two. While that's exciting, it's also intimidating. It makes me wanna question myself about what the future for HOTH is. When I started writing, my goals were different. After I got a taste of the blogging world, I have a whole new perspective about what I want from my blog. I have come to realize that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you end up selling your soul. For those of you who are constantly DMing me asking me how to start a blog, I want you guys to read my post. While I sip on my cold coffee and ponder over what the end game for HOTH is, let me walk you through all the tips and tricks you need you need to know to start a blog and call out all the lies that I've noticed other bloggers tell you.

Lemme begin with the golden question - How do you start? Pretty much everyone I know who blogs is going to say, "you need to have a niche", "what's your passion" etc. Well, they're lying. While most of them start a blog for free goodies, some others are hungry for fame. For me it was a combination of both when I started and they were my drivers. But after two years of this super competitive blogger life, I've realized that most of the free stuff is absolutely not worth writing about. And as far as fame is concerned, I've received it in other areas.  I may have had materialistic reasons to start a blog but when I receive praises from my readers, DMs from followers asking me fashion related queries or pointing out typos in my posts, I feel proud of myself. That's what keeps me going. I like that I'm being heard. The fact that I have the power to influence others is what should have motivated me to start a blog in the first place.

Another question that almost every newbie blogger is constantly asking is about Instagram followers. How does a blogger gain followers? Most bloggers would say, "post good content, don't worry about followers". Bullshit! They are fooling you. They don't get to decide whether you are posting 'good' content or not. I have noticed super popular bloggers upload airbrushed photos in skimpy clothes and flawless skin but write absolute crap with ridiculously shitty grammar whereas there are those with less flashy images and less number of followers who write things that real girls can relate to. Who do you think is posting better content? Another very common answer they'd give you is to use appropriate hashtags. That might work in some cases and might help you in a lot of other ways, but going from a triple digit follower count to 10K overnight through hashtags is probably possible only if you're Kim Kardashian. While growing organically is considered ethical, brands don't seem to understand that followers can be bought and can be bots. It's the sad truth, but everyone's doing it. It's practically impossible for a newbie blogger who started two months ago and has around two hundred posts to have 20K Instagram followers without generating them using guerilla tactics. So if you want instant followers, just buy 'em!

Don't know what to write about? That brings us to the first point - answer the "why" first and the "what" will get answered automatically. A lot of bloggers tend to write fascinating things about a product they've been asked to review. I have done that too. But what's the point of it when you don't actually believe it? Be true to yourself and always write about the pros and cons of a product. You should always try to write posts that a common man or your target audience can relate to. Do try to add a personal touch to it. No one cares about jargon like "AW 2017" or how Sonam Kapoor spent 3 lakhs on a kurti as much as they'd care about how you picked up a floral dress from a nearby thrift shop and wore it with jhumkas because that's all you could afford. When I started blogging, I could barely write two paragraphs and that's because all my focus was on the product instead of my experience with it. Your readers care about your story and not what the market wants you to sell.

Who is going to take my photos? Some good quality photography is an important part of being a blogger. While most bloggers may claim that you don't need a fancy camera to take your pictures, I think it definitely does fetch you additional brownie points. You could have some photos on your social media accounts taken on your phone, but do try finding some good photographers you can collaborate with. I've been very lucky to find lots of newbie photographers in Bangalore who have asked me to collaborate with them and even if it means paying a small fee, don't hesitate to invest in good photography. You're also indirectly helping another talented individual grow. A lot of photographers are concerned about the "theme" and the outfits you're going to wear. While this has always gotten on my last nerve, I finally gave in and always made sure I informed my photographer exactly what I'm trying to achieve. There have been times when they have tried to put forth their opinion, but that's entirely up to you how you deal with it ;-)

Now that you have your purpose in mind and your photography sorted, what next? Do I need to purchase hi-fi marketing tools? They say SEO and SEM is going to help you attract more brands. Well, to be honest I'm not the right person to address the marketing side of things since I haven't put in much effort in this department. But I'm hoping that spamming all of my friends and family on Facebook and Instagram is going to help me get famous some day :D Just kidding! I strongly believe that if a product is good enough it does not need any kind of advertisement.

Moving on to the most important part - How do you get brands to collaborate with you? Every so-called top blogger out there with over 45K followers will tell you that you should "wait" for the brands to contact you. Well, if you do that, you'll just keep waiting. You need to reach out to brands. You need to make yourself known. But first you need to have decent content on your blog that speaks to the brands. No brand will invest in you if you haven't done relevant work already. Raid your own closet every once in a while and put together a look, take some great pics and write about it. Only after you're confident enough about how you'd style an outfit, what kind of outfits define your personality and what kind of looks you'd like to promote, shoot out an email to brands that are in sync with your style. If they are unhappy with the number of followers you have, then it's their loss - too bad that they don't invest in talent and are only concerned about fake numbers.

Keeping all these pointers in mind, I hope you have all the tools you need to start a blog. A pen is mightier than a sword. Do ensure that you write things that you are always going to believe is right because you never know how many people might be getting influenced by your blog. Free stuff and money may come and go, but your readers are always going to be with you. You need to see to it that there's a certain bond between you and your readers and that you never, ever break it. Most importantly, blog for yourself! With that, I'm going to sign off and hope that this post of mine has inspired you to start a blog for all the right reasons.

Hand On The Hip