To Be ABCD or Not Be ABCD

The acronym ABCD came about 2 or 3 decades ago. America Born Confused Desi – not a real badge of honor for many second-generation Indian or desi Americans. Times have changed, the world is smaller and a more accessible place today than it was 30 years ago, yet the acronym has stuck around. 

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Growing up I remember meeting some NRI family-friends and their kids visiting India, most feeling like fish out of water or feeling awkward during conversations where their accent or an attempt to mutter a few words of Hindi was made fun of. I am sure they couldn’t wait to get out of most situations and go back to the comforts of their own homes abroad.

Cut to today – the internet may have shrunk the world but for better or worse I my kids are branded – ABCD. 

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The eternal question from the well-wishers when I visit India is, “So how will you make sure your kids will not turn out to be total ABCDs?” Or some variation of that. ‘Do you speak Hindi with them?’ ‘How do you teach them Indian values’ etc etc. My reaction to such questions is usually vague, not because I do not have a concrete answer but because I know that no matter what I say, my kids will never be Indian ‘enough’ and I am totally okay with that.

Actually here in US, I have seen people divided on this topic. The discussions range from Sunday Hindi school at local temple to, I don’t care whether my child speaks a word of Hindi. I am somewhere in the middle. I must admit that I have not done a great job of teaching my little ones Hindi yet, but, they are exposed to the Indian culture as and when we feel appropriate.

My husband is big on Indian music aka Bollywood film music and the girls are picking up some very interesting dance moves from their daddy. 

I go back and forth on exposing the kids to Bollywood as it hardly paints the true picture of India. Moreover, India for me is more than a place, it’s an experience that I lived for over two decades of my life, I still have a lot of India in me. For me most films go from entertaining to annoying in a matter of minutes! Exposing my kids to Bollywood in mini-doses of music is ok but cultural learning has to come from elsewhere.

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 I am more ritualistic and traditional in the combination hence the festivals and other cultural stuff is my department. Good thing that we have a circle of desi friends that comes together during festivals such as Diwali and Holi. 

We love dressing up in our Indian garb and fineries for Diwali and enjoy dressing down and getting dirty for Holi!

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I am also a big fan of books from India or about India. There are books written by fellow moms in US which explain the importance or significance of Indian culture and rituals and there is also a monthly subscription box service for all things desi!

My girls love their homemade food with a touch of cumin and other spices, their dosa rotis and idli cakes (as they like to call them) and of course they look forward to their annual visit to India. Which I feel is the best way to expose them to the values I feel closest too. I really don’t care but about tags and acronyms I take a lot of pride in my Indian roots and cultural heritage. I just hope I do a good job of exposing my girls to the values that have made me what I am today. Rest is up to them to choose what they want to do with it. 

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On a side note, I think they look really cute in their lehngas and other tiny Indian outfits, love mama’s bindis, bangles and mehndi so I secretly hope they both grow up to be Indophiles! 

Written By Divya Kumar

This Season’s Hottest Trends—All In RETRO-spect!

If you’re in on the fashion game, then I’m sure there’s one thing you’ve noticed for sure—it all comes back! No, really! It does, doesn’t it? Because who seriously thought bell-bottoms, or flared pants, would be a thing again? Or, that you can ACTUALLY bust out your mom’s old faux-fur jacket (if she hasn’t already given away in which case you’re probably BEYOND disappointed because I know I am!) and still rock it in 2017?

The fact that these trends have made their way back into leading retail stores, and even high-fashion, also really connects to the idea of rewearability—and boy are we glad! So do you want to know when your latest statement first did the rounds in the world of fashion? Well then, here’s a major way-back-play-back coming your way, right now!

‘60’s

Bell bottoms, floral, and leather jackets are uber popular today. If you don’t believe it, then take this in—leather jackets are now being paired with almost every South Asian outfit to give it some edge and creativity! So you best believe that leather jackets are the new statement piece! We all know florals and bell-bottoms were introduced by the hippie culture, and I wonder if they really knew how big their style would be for millennials? Since rock was becoming a popular genre of music, enter the leather jacket. We wear it all today, but really these items are 60’s classics!

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‘70’s

Love your faux-fur vest and that go-to blazer for work? Well, let’s take a moment to thank the 70s for these irreplaceable trends then. The 70s was a decade when women began to come to the forefront in the corporate world, so it was only right to introduce their own version of a pant-suit to kick some butt in! Little did the designers know that they were making an iconic piece suitable for every woman out there! And of course, no one could go wrong with a little bit of faux-fur to amp up a vest!

Speaking of faux-fur, here’s a story: my mom had a beautiful floor-length faux fur jacket that I always adored in her pictures from when she was younger. When the time came to actually put that to use for myself, turned out she had given it away to a relative to use instead! So much for holding on to a classic and vintage piece!!

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80’s

Graphic tees. The chicest yet casual form of modern day fashion. Thank you 80’s.

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90’s

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This decade gave us some MAJOR fashion inspiration! I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the comeback trends that we take advantage of today, come from the 90’s. Here’s what we’ve taken from this decade now to re-wear over and over again: choker necklace, the skater skirt, denim jacket, and the classic crop top!

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00’s

Believe it or not but the early 2000’s was MORE than a decade ago and so it’s fair to pay tribute to some of it’s best fashion trends as well. So without further adieu, here’s a list of items that have made an appearance in all our wardrobes since the early 2000’s: trucker hats, Timberland boots (yup! Remember wearing them in middle school?), camo print, and maxi skirts (I think these will forever be my favorite!).

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As Featured on Brown Girl Magazine

 

A Bride’s Guide To Re-using Her Wedding Trousseau In A Modern Way

Undeniably, weddings are something we Indians are totally obsessed with! From high-end designers to famous stores, we visit every place possible just to find that perfect lehenga.

After months of research and saving multiple screenshots to find the best one for my wedding, I glued my eyes upon a beautiful fuschia pink and gold lehenga. It had subtle work, medium-sized motifs, absolutely flawless and very light-weighted  (which was my first preference as I wanted to enjoy rather than sitting wearing that heavy piece of work). Without a doubt, I fell in love with it instantly!

But now it’s been a while that priceless possession is wrapped in a ‘malmal ka kapda’ (muslin cloth) and stored in the trunk. Most of us do the same ‘to-never-open-it-again’, while some are clueless on what to do with this beautiful piece. I was blank as well until a friend asked, looking at my wedding pictures, ‘where did you buy your lehenga from? It looks insanely beautiful!’ I don’t know what, but something struck and I started to research for the creative ways to re-use and add more style and grace to it. I came across a lot of articles which showed how to reuse your wedding trousseau but not many that stated how to incorporate them in a modern and casual style

And if you are anything like me, here are 7 ways to revamp the wedding outfit with a touch of creativity.

Transform your Wedding Choli or Blouse Into A Crop Top:

Your colorful-heavy lehenga blouse can be easily paired with a plain raw silk skirt And if you have any heavy blouse lying in the closet, it’s time to get that out and use it as a crop top and pair it with a slit or flare skirt. It looks so chic!  

Use your Sangeet Skirt as a Maxi Skirt:

Combine a crop top with a maxi skirt that you can later recycle, these are ideal for other events. You can add ear cuffs or smart earrings to complete the look.

Use your raw silk skirt to match it with tops and blouses.
Use your raw silk skirt to match it with tops and blouses.

Use your Dupatta:

As a bride to be, I wanted to be decked up with two dupattas, one on the head and other on the shoulders. Trust you me, it took me a lot of time and effort to find the second one, in fact, more than it took me finalizing the bridal attire. And now, how can I just throw or lock in the closet away? *It hurts*   

With the latest trends coming up, to our relief there are ways to use that heavy dupatta. You can either use it with a plain raw silk suit or with a salwar kameez.

Also, get a beautiful blouse made out of it, which you can use with any plain saree. It will look really classy and unique! 

Convert Your Saree into Dhoti Skirt:

Dhoti Skirts are in trend these days and give a chic look. It is a new style statement for women and can be worn traditionally as well. You can transform your saree into a beautiful dhoti skirt and wear it to the next wedding you attend. Team it up with a tunic, some jewelry and you are ready for a diva look.

And the good news is they are perfect for every body type.

Fashion Blogger Divya Maben wears a custom India Boulevard Dhoti Pants
Fashion Blogger Divya Maben wears a custom India Boulevard Dhoti Skirt.

Use Your Salwar Wide Pants as a Palazzo:

This uber cool and stylish Palazzo have made a comeback with a bang. A lot of people are seen loving and flaunting it. So it’s time for you to take out your Salwar and take help from the tailor to convert it into a Palazzo. You team this with a tank top, crop top, some beautiful kurti, or some floor length jacket.

A custom India Boulevard palazzo pants
A custom India Boulevard palazzo pants

Make Tops or Kurtis out of Sarees:

A lot of people alter their sarees into suits and buy a matching dupatta from the market. And if you have any silk saree, then a raw, plain silk suit made of saree with a contrast dupatta looks fab. Add thick borders or any accessories to make it more glamorous. This is ideal for a sangeet or any similar function at the family.

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Don’t let your wedding trousseau get lost in the trunk, it’s time to flaunt in the chic way!

 

How To Mix And Match Your Custom Lehenga | With Desi Girl Jennifer Laxmi

As featured on Laxmi Lifestyle

I have always loved fashion. As an Indian- American style blogger, I grew up exposed to the evolution of western styles while experimenting with Indian fashion and from a young age, for events, religious functions, weddings, and whenever I visited India. As my love for Bollywood grew, I also noticed style trends through actresses, movies, and songs, which largely reflect the trends and traditions of Indian wear, whether it’s a simple sari from the 60s, the return of floral patterns, or edgy androgynous looks and dhoti-type pants. I love fusing both western and eastern wear to celebrate my heritage while expressing my everyday individual style.

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Jennifer’s made-to-order customized outfit.

 I’m always looking for unique ways to incorporate Indian garb and inspiration into my looks, or figuring out ways to customize my Indian looks at events to express my individuality and creativity. That is why it was so important that I used a service like India Boulevard where I had a say in my outfit from picking color watches and patterns to specific cuts and lining.

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Jennifer’s scalloped dupatta.

As a South Indian who loves everything Bollywood, I’d say my Indian outfits incorporate a bit of everything. I draw my inspiration from Sonam Kapoor. She seamlessly mixes edgy and traditional to any look. She knows how to take risks and that’s the philosophy with which I create my fashion persona. I like trying new things even if it doesn’t strike others as ‘beautiful’. I think taking risks is important because it helps you flex your creative muscles and figure out ways to wear pieces in original ways. Olivia Palermo is another huge inspiration because she mixes both high-end and street pieces and embodies a style that’s polished, feminine and edgy.

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Jennifer in her custom lehenga

I decided to get this grey floral lehenga for my cousin’s wedding reception, I knew I’d heard about India Boulevard before and finally took the plunge! It was so worth it.

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Jennifer mixes her lehenga skirt with a black top.

When I first wore this lehenga, I felt stunning! What I loved most about it was that it was unique and it was so perfect for my individual style, given that I had custom requested the off-shoulder look for the blouse. Also, picking the color combo of the unorthodox gray mixed with the blue and green floral pattern was daring and bold, creating a look that certainly stood out at my cousin’s reception.

From the service and communication to the efficiency and quality, I couldn’t have been happier with my outfits! The best part? I was able to style the outfit in 3 different ways: traditionally, with my crop top & choker, and with my fave culottes.

Jennifer Laxmi mixes and matches her lehenga top wth a pair of flare pants.
Jennifer Laxmi mixes and matches her lehenga top wth a pair of flare pants.

For those of you, who are curious, the process to order from India Boulevard is quite simple:
A: Pick your style (lehenga, anarkali, etc.)
B: Set your price range, set your date
C: Customize any details (this can be an ongoing process with the stylist/assistant, who is available on phone, WhatsApp and Live Chat)
D: Confirm your order and measurements
E: Await your precious arrival!

The stylists at India Boulevard were super receptive to all my customization needs (super high maintenance when it comes to the perfect color combos, swatches, and patterns). I was so stoked to see my off shoulder blouse come to life, and more importantly, for everything to fit me like a glove. I seriously recommend them, and sometimes they are accommodating with dupatta needs, color swaps, and even the timeline.

Check them out here.

7 Apps Every Bride In The US Needs

As a bride-to-be, setting the date is just the start of your wedding day journey. There’s still so much to get done between the time you get engaged up until the day you walk down the aisle. With so much to plan out, buy and mail, your list of things to do can quickly grow long and become overwhelming. So it’s essential you stay organized and on track while you get every task done before the big day. Today we’ll be sharing with you 7 helpful wedding apps every busy bride needs.

WeddingWire 

WeddingWire is not only a wedding planner, it’s one of the best apps to find the venue of your dreams. It has over 200,000 venues that are reviewed with photos and details about the property.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/hHM3s.i

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Zola Wedding Registry 

Zola is the app you can use to create your wedding registry. With this app you can know when you receive a new gift from your list, control the shipping and add gifts from Zola’s wide selection. Plus, you can also use their barcode scanner to add items from any store on to your registry.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/mVW0Y.i

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Joy – Wedding App 

Joy is the wedding app that will help you manage your guest list and all the RSVPs in one convenient place. With this app your can also create your own profile, provide wedding info and link your wedding registry.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/ityr7.i

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Mint

As a bride it’s important to follow a budget so your spending doesn’t bring new debt into your life. This is where Mint can help! This app will help you make a budget for your wedding, let you view your spending and most importantly stay on track.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/wBu5r.i

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Trello 

Trello is a digital notebook that is perfect for a bride who can live without a to-do list. Trello will keep all your wedding ideas and lists organized with easy drag and drop boards. Simply divide each task into categories or projects and create lists complete with due dates, photos, and comments. You can even invite others involved in the wedding to view and discuss the projects.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/lbGGB.i

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Paperless Post 

Paperless is one of the best wedding apps to design your very own wedding invitations and send them via email, tradition mail, or both. When you send them through email, you also get the chance to see who received and opened your invite.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/Lw-mD.i

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Wedding Planner by The Knot

This list wouldn’t be complete without a wedding planner app! This one by The Knot is useful and easy to use. Besides being able to plan your wedding with easy checklists, you can also create a fun wedding countdown, search through endless wedding inspiration, get help with your budget and much more.

You can find it here: https://appsto.re/us/Xi6sB.i

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If you have any more questions regarding your wedding or trousseau, feel free to reach out to our stylists.

Written By Kai:

 

My mother gave me 101 sarees for my wedding!

Written By Divya Kumar

Long, long ago there was a little girl who loved wearing saris, she could barely manage her school uniform, but as soon as she came home, she opened and stared at her mom’s closet, wide-eyed she looked at all those neatly hung, color-coordinated yards and yards of fabric in hues ranging from pastels to brights. Depending on her mood, she would choose a crisply-starched cotton dhoti or drape a dainty chiffon on her tiny body. Then there were days when she just touched the silks and let its luxurious feel engulf her. 

She watched her mom wear a sari every morning in under-3-minutes! But her little fingers struggled to make any sense with this long, intimidating yet fascinating ensemble. This, of course, was decades before YouTube tutorials.
And the mother of this little girl was aware of her only daughter’s love affair with her wardrobe. So whenever the mom traveled for work or leisure, with or without the daughter she bought a sari for her little girl. The tradition went on for years, and mom bought traditional, handwoven saris to add to her burgeoning collection. 

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L-R: Vintage Resham embroidered sari in blue (my mom wore it for her wedding reception and for my wedding, I wore it for my brother’s wedding), Pink beaded sari- (reimagined design from 1960’s Bollywood, silk, and Zari embroidered sari in navy and Zaria woven sari in orange)

You guessed it right, I am that little girl and this is the story of me and my saris.  My mom, a highly placed and well-respected bureaucrat with the government of India, loved her saris. In her 36 years of service, she wore saris every single day to work. We missed her a lot when she was away but it also gave me and my brothers to explore the country when she was posted outside Delhi. Our usual trips included a tour of factories, handicraft museums or visits to local artisans workshops. The last one was my favorite.

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Me in one of the sarees


We got to meet and watch the weavers, painters, artists and craftsmen at work. We were lucky to see many masterpieces being woven and crafted. From pattu shawls of Kullu, delicate Kashmiri embroidery on pashminas, intricate mirror work in Gujarat, tye & dye or bandhej in Rajasthan, dhoop-chhav or ombre silk weaves of Benaras, phulkari of Punjab, gold zari badla and dabka work on wedding lehengas to delicate Chanderis. Magnificent south India Kanjeevarams and pochampaly Ikat saris and much more.

These trips and visits were eye-opening and educational, beautifully enlightening to say the least. I remember planning most of our holidays around sari shopping. Kumaran or Nallis in Chennai, Barrabazaar in Kolkata, Johri Bazaar in Jaipur etc.
Almost two decades and all these trips later, when finally the daughter decided to get married, she realized she will be leaving her family, her friends, only place she knew as home and crazy as it may sound, a her beloved wedding trousseau of one hundred and one saris that her mom so lovingly collected created for her over the years.

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L to R: Maroon Benares gold zari, Mysore silk sari, multicolor chiffon lahariya, Bengal silk in orange and green and fuchsia Kanjeevaram

The heart-broken mom soon discovered that her US-bound girl will not only be leaving her traditional saris behind, she will also not be carrying on the family tradition of wearing these beautiful saris.

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Me during my wedding

7 years on since the wedding and 12 years since I left India, I can count on my hands the number of times I wore my saris. I still have about 20 some saris I brought to the USA with me out of the 101, but many of them are yet to see the light of the day.

4 cross-country moves and 2 kids later, I am still hopeful that one day I will be able to bring my much-cherished collection of saris over. Each sari is a masterpiece because each one of them is hand-crafted, every one of them tells a story, a story I am looking forward to sharing with my daughters. One day….

 

What NOT to Wear to Your Best Friend’s Wedding

f19f9b56f739ab6c8f887e2193c96590Sponsored by Brown Girl Magazine

We think one of the best feelings in the world is when your best friend tells you that she’s getting married! It’s like this rush of mixed emotions when you hear about this wedding— happy, sad, nostalgia, and sheer EXCITEMENT, all at once! What is she going to wear? Who should you suggest as her makeup artist? How can you make her look and feel like the most beautiful bride in the world? It feels like it’s your job to make the whole experience perfect for her, from start to finish. After all, you can’t always walk around telling others, hey, mere yaar ki shaadi hai.

With that laundry list of thoughts and duties, it’s safe to say that with your BFF’s wedding comes with a lot of responsibility. There’s also the hustle-bustle of being the quintessential bridesmaid (or maid of honor); clearly, it’s your job to hold the bride’s lehenga while she uses the bathroom, and wipe those tears just in time to avoid any mascara/eyeliner from smudging. Your responsibilities towards your bestie on her wedding are covered, but what about yourself? As the best friend, your need to feel, and LOOK, on point, right?

It’s totally acceptable to go ahead and splurge a little on your own outfits and accessories to make a statement on your best friend’s big day—but that doesn’t go to say that you totally outshine the bride, or wear something completely unexpected. Now, this is important to reiterate because as much as you may think this is impossible, real life events say otherwise.

Besides outshining the bride there have also been situations where people just didn’t get the wedding memo and showed up in something totally inappropriate.

So, in light of all these mishaps and the fashion faux pas moments, here’s a courtesy list of things you should NOT wear to your bff’s wedding—and trust us, we’re really sparing the bride the horror!

1. The Color White

Attending a desi wedding? Don’t kill the vibe by wearing anything plain and in the color white (even if it’s accessorized). Instead, join in on the vibrancy that is the EPIC Indian wedding! Don’t believe us when we say people have worn plain ol’ white to a South Asian wedding? Here’s a first-hand account from one of our very own BGs:

“I’ve seen a girl wear a plain white sari to her friends wedding. She wore some crazy jewelry to dress it up but it was still a terrible idea.”

2. A Wedding/Bridal Lehenga

Believe it or not, but this has happened. And apparently (unbelievably) it’s a common practice for many women out there. We can’t fathom why someone would purposely go out and spend the time and money on buying a full wedding outfit to wear to someone else’s big day? There is NO bigger way to outshine the bride than to make your own flashy entrance in a complete wedding ensemble (and at this point, it doesn’t even matter if you’re jewelry isn’t heavy)! We would even suggest staying away from the classic bridal colors—red, pink, and even gold.

And now for some stories to put the aforementioned choices into more perspective:

“I’ve seen aunties at weddings wear full bridal attire and bridal jewelry. I’m thinking like Aunty chill , you had your time!”

And if the aunty that BG Sabrina is referring to (above) isn’t enough, how about the accounts of the boastful one below:

“I’ve seen a woman go out and buy herself a straight up bridal outfit to wear to her friends wedding and she took pride in outshining the bride.”

Way to steal the show, girl! You were definitely the talk of the town after that mistake.

[Read Related: India Boulevard Presents 2017’s Most Popular Picks in Fashion]

3. The Bridal Accessories

If you think it’s okay to wear your old bridal jewelry to your bestie’s wedding, please think again. HER big day is not YOUR opportunity to recycle jewelry that can possibly outshine the bride. One bride shares her first-hand experience with a friend who clearly over-accessorized, and she definitely wasn’t happy:

“A friend wore bridal bindis (over the eyebrows) to my nikaah. My video guys deliberately didn’t get her in any footage because they were so mad she did that!”

Well, definitely serves her right!

4 Out-of-the-Box Ways to Repurpose Your Dupatta

As featured on Brown Girl Magazine

The classic Indian outfit is composed of three main pieces: The choli/kameez, salwar/ghagra, and the dupatta. We’re sure there was minimal need to reiterate the basics but we wanted to revisit the staple Indian outfit before introducing some new ways to transform an Indian wardrobe classic: The dupatta.

Although there are multiple ways of styling the dupatta when worn with your salwar-kameez or lehenga, we decided to inspire you to think out of the box and repurpose this piece! I’m sure we all like to channel our inner Bollywood actress with a bit of wind hitting our finely pinned chunni (and watching it sway in tune with an imaginary melody humming in our heads). But have you thought of how you can turn this accessory into something new?

Present-day trends have introduced many intricate and ornate designs when it comes to the dupatta. Gone are the days when a chunni would simply be found in plain fabrics like chiffon, net, and georgette. The bold borders and additions like latkans have added personality to any dupatta and us fashionistas can now actually start styling it as a stand-alone piece.

How you ask? Well, you don’t have to look anywhere else for the answer! Simply tune into the list below to see how you can repurpose your dupatta, and wear it like new.

1. Turn it into a vest.

Check out the steps below on how to turn your chunni into a classy vest! This can be worn with both western and eastern attire. It’s the perfect way to bring out the versatility of any scarf.

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2. Add lining to the chiffon fabric and wear it as a saree/lehenga blouse.

There often comes a time when, with a heavy heart, you decide to retire your ensemble for reasons that only another fashionista (and definitely not your husband) would understand—it may be outdated or you may have worn it a couple of times and EVERYONE in your social circle has seen you in it. We get you girl, so go ahead and put it away, but needless to ask, would you mind holding on to that dupatta? If it belongs to an outfit you know you won’t be sporting anymore, then why not turn it into a blouse to match with one of your sarees or lehengas? Your standard dupatta is at least 2 meters long, and you need fabric measuring 1 meter to stitch your desired lehenga/saree crop top. So put two-and-two together and repurpose! Don’t waste the fabric because another ethnic crop top won’t hurt.

3. Use it as a scarf.

The winter season sees everyone wearing scarves in all sorts of ways! So instead of sifting through scarves at the mall, why not sift through your dupattas for the ideal winter scarf? Pick a modest-colored chunni from your vast collection, and wear it any scarf-style. See below for some ideas:

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4. Turn it into a skirt.

Now here’s some outside-of-the-box, fashion inspo related to all those colorful summer salwaar-suits you may have lying around. Take the dupatta and turn it into a fun skirt! If the fabric is thick enough, you can easily rock it paired with a tank-top to your mom-and-pops ice cream parlor next time you go for a treat; otherwise, use it as a nice overlay skirt by the poolside.

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Inspired to try some fun ideas, shop our Kaushal collection and mix and match your outfits.

Why The Floral Trend Is Now A Classic

The floral trend has been on a fashion high since 2014 and it just doesn’t seem to stop. Be it winter or summer, you have floral outfits for every season. With the way it is going, it almost seems like, this trend is here to stay and perhaps even become a classic.

Whether you are someone who follows a boho, romantic, classic or dramatic style, floral caters to everyone.

In celebration of that, India Boulevard recently launched their spring lookbook – Lily and Bloom, which was based entirely on the floral love.

Check it out and let us know which look is your personal favorite.

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Love these looks? Pick your favorite from our website now.