Aug 1

A New Alma Mater

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Forever 21 pants, Wet Seal T-shirt, H&M purse

I went to visit my university campus on a warm, sunny afternoon this weekend. Having attended an almost 150 year-old private institution in the northeast for my undergraduate studies, I have been spoiled when it comes to beautiful campuses and state-of-the-art educational facilities.

I was apprehensive about making the switch to a state funded, borderline bankrupt school. I purposely lowered my expectations on the long drive, telling myself that it was OK not to love the campus as I did my last one. I am, after all, only a commuter graduate student.

All that self-handicapping must have worked, because the campus pleasantly surprised me. Albeit small, there is an actual quad, the grass is green and well kept, and the buildings are surrounded by large, mature trees as I have come to expect in a university campus. The atmosphere was collegiate enough to make me want to pose for photos under trees and lie down in the grass without a care in the world. Not quite the school of my dreams, but this will do nicely for the next two years.

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Jul 28

Mangoes and Jamuns

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Nida Mahmood shorts, Forever 21 top, Nine West sandals

When I was thinking about how to style these shorts, my first thought was to pair them with a white shirt. But their vibrant color and playfully retro print begged for livelier companionship.

I fished out this really old purple top from the back of my dungeon of a closet and was instantly reminded of summers in India. Together, the ensemble is my throwback to fragrant alphonso mangoes and ripe, luscious jamuns. Ah, summer!

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Jul 26

North Carolina Diaries: Black and Blue

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H&M skirt, Old Navy top, Forever 21 bag, Nine West sandals

One canceled flight, one last minute change of airport, one missed connection and two delayed flights later, I’m finally back in LA. For a quick weekend getaway, this trip turned out to be quite crazy. However, barring the multiple travel fiascos, we really enjoyed our weekend away and spending time with friends. I particularly enjoyed the heat. I know most of you are thinking I’m crazy for saying that. But as smug as I feel about LA’s 60 fahrenheit winter days while the rest of the country freezes to the bone, I miss actually feeling warm in the summer. I miss warm nights that allow you to go out for dinner or drinks without layering up. We did exactly that this weekend, and it was great.

I wanted to keep my clothes travel-friendly as well as heat-friendly. Black and blue is such a chic combination that I’m surprised we don’t see more of it. I wore my favorite Old Navy top and the navy blue version of this H&M skirt for this outfit. I love the cutout neckline on that top. Because of the heat, I kept accessories to a minimum.

When I fly, I like to carry versatile pieces so as to avoid checking in bags. A slouchy, neutral-color bag and some black or nude shoes that can go from day to night—such as these gorgeous Nine West sandals—are my staples.

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Jul 22

Carry-On Bathroom

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I have a short trip coming up, for which I have been packing today. With all the strict security guidelines for flying, packing that one-quart zip-top bag with all the essential toiletries is always challenging. However, after years of practice, I like to think I have mastered the 3-1-1 rule. Here’s what I carry in my zip-top.

Face wash, day moisturizer with sunscreen, night cream, hair straightening lotion, hand cream (which I use as body cream), makeup remover

I place the zip-top bag inside a larger carry-on toiletry bag, in which I keep my non-liquid items such as deodorant, toothbrush, solid perfume etc.

What do you take in your zip-top bag?

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Jul 20

White Whimsy

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Nothing says summer like a white dress. But the usual plain white dress can turn boring faster than you can say “pool party.”

 

I’ve rounded up a few white dresses with a twist that I would love to have in my closet. Whether it’s a cutesy Peter Pan collar, a sexy mesh insert or a gigantic print, these white dresses have what it takes to stand alone without the help of accessories. And that is a treat in itself on those searing hot days.

1. ASOS Pussybow Shirt Dress in Galloping Horse Print

2. Forever 21 Mesh Insert Bodycon Dress

3. JUNY “Zebra” Print Elastic Waist Dress

4. Richard Nicoll ‘Stella Linder’ Silk T-Shirt Dress

5. Dahlia Sleeveless Contrast Collar Tea Dress

6. Tibi Paz Beaded Dress

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Jul 18

Ain’t No Dirty Hippie

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Fabindia skirt, Gap top, Adrienne Vittadini sandals, H&M jacket

We spent Friday night having a lovely dinner with friends at a nearby Cuban restaurant, followed by chocolate ganache cake, a bottle of port and a game of Taboo at home. It was exactly the kind of cozy evening that I like at the end of the week.

I dug out my cotton maxi skirts from storage and wore this gorgeous brick red one with gold paisley block print along the bottom. Even though it’s supposed to be summer, June gloom is back in full form and so is that nip in the air that LA never lets go. To keep warm, I added my favorite H&M jacket.

As I was getting dressed, I could see my gladiator sandals through the corner of my eye, which instantly reminded of this quote from Friends - “Hi, my name is Rain. I have my own kiln and my dress is made out of wheat.” I didn’t want to be that girl. I much prefer the modern look of these T-strap sandals against the boho skirt. And the best part? The skirt has a drawstring waist, so I was free to eat hígado a la Italiana and sweet plantains to my heart’s content.

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Jul 14

Summer Magic

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Zara dress, BCBGeneration shoes, Forever 21 clutch

Since we got our Open Sesame membership at the Magic Castle, we have been visiting the club once a week. Although they have a strict evening wear policy, I quickly realized that as long as your look well put together, they don’t care what you are wearing. For last night’s visit, I chose a floral dress from Zara. Normally, I would wear black heels with this dress for evening. But I was in a mood to keep things light and airy, so I went with these strappy sandals instead. I like how they crank up the summery vibe of the outfit.

I put my Tau Beta Pi bent and a coral flower pendant on a black thread to create a custom charm necklace. Then I piled on a zodiac constellation necklace for a layered look.

 

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Jul 12

Make Up For Ever Primer

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While I don’t wear much makeup day-to-day, I like to go all the way when it comes to special occasions. Surprisingly, I had never used primer until about a year ago. I would complain about makeup getting smudged or caked or just looking lighter with time, but it didn’t occur to me to try on primer. Then I got a free sample from Sephora that changed everything.

This medium weight primer from Make Up For Ever goes on easily, smells great, and most important, it creates a nice base layer on which you can apply your makeup. I apply the primer on top of my regular moisturizer/sunscreen before applying foundation, and my makeup stays put for hours with minimal fading or smudging. I also find that colors look more vibrant on top of this product.

Beginning of the night

If you have insanely dry skin like mine, then you probably need to touch up your makeup frequently. That’s because anything you apply to your skin constantly gets absorbed and eventually fades. Primer prevents that by creating a protective layer between your makeup and your skin so you don’t need frequent touch ups. Here are photos of me from that evening last year, when I used primer for the first time. About four hours had passed between the photos and I had to do just one touch up, which was due mostly to all the eating and drinking.

End of the night

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Jul 9

Bottoms Up!

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"Aladdin Pants"

The versatility of jeans—or pants in general—can be a double-edged sword. While I never tire of the comfort of a well-worn jean, I do get bored of the monotonous look. Alternative pant silhouettes are my favorite trend at the moment.

"Fancy Pants"

Traditionally, harem pants, bloomers, jodhpurs etc. each had a distinctive shape. However, their modern interpretations are more fluid and take whatever form the designer fancies. The only thing they have in common is an inversion of what is usually considered graceful. And that is exactly what appeals to me!

"Airplane Pants" - because they are incredibly comfortable for flying

I have been stocking up on these “alternative” pants lately, and I like to give them my own names. Here are four current favorites from my closet.

"Untitled Riding Pants" - they are unworn still; give me time

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Jul 5

Back to School

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As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, this has been a year of big changes. After years of slave labor in the corporate world, I will be going to graduate school as a full time student.

As a kid, I didn’t care one way or another about school - it was just something you had to do. Some days it was fun and other days it was hell. But there was one thing I thoroughly enjoyed about school, and that was back-to-school shopping. This didn’t involve clothes. My school—like most schools in India—had a uniform. The shopping consisted of books, stationery, sometimes a lunchbox, and every once in a few years, a new raincoat for the monsoon. There’s no monsoon here in LA of course, although on several occasions lately the heat has tricked me into thinking otherwise. Anyway, I won’t be buying any raincoats anytime soon. However, there was another item that always made back-to-school shopping exciting. It was the backpack - or “schoolbag,” as we called it then. In the absence of the ability to choose what clothes to wear, the schoolbag was the one visible expression of one’s point of view and taste.

As graduate school draws near, I have been looking for a bag that I can use for class. Something that would not only fit everything I’ll need to carry, but also feel academic and put me in the right frame of mind. And I was thrilled to find this perfect one at Zara for just $30!

My favorite thing about this bag are the preppy double pockets with the push-button clasps reminiscent of schoolbags. It also has a fairly large bottom to easily fit a bunch of books, papers and stationery.

While I am a little nervous about graduate school, every time I look at this bag, I get excited about all the possibilities it’s going to bring. Most of all, it makes me excited about the intellectual freedom to explore and express ideas in a way that the corporate world simply doesn’t allow. I can’t wait!

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