Sunday, 31 May 2015

Make-It-Yourself-Fashion: DIY Your Own Shirt-Dress

I've mentioned before that I love the latest trend of shirt-dresses, and the fact that this seems to be a trend in quite a few stores on the high street.

Although I love the fact that most of these shirts have long sleeves or are modest enough to be layered without looking awkward, I've found that there isn't enough variety out there. I've seen a lot of plain dresses and a few floral ones, but I couldn't see anything which was colourful or a little different, so I got the idea of making my own shirt dress. I've been veering towards making my own designs anyway, since I've been looking for something more unique, and thought I'd experiment a little with what I find.

I've grown up being comfortable with home-made outfits - my mum is an excellent tailor and having a sewing machine in the house was normal in our neighbourhood (a lot of our aunts used to sew as well or work for local warehouses and factories from home). It's strange to see how times have changed; when we were younger we used to get our mums to sew our salwar kameezes from fabrics bought from a local shop or market, usually with minimal work, and either wore the plainer ones at home as casual outfits, or the fancier ones for special events. These days no one does this, 'ready-'made' outfits, which was more of a luxury back then, is now the norm - it's not worth buying nice fabric if you have to spend extra to get it made as well!

Lucky for me, my mum's pretty experienced when it comes to making clothes, although as she's gotten older she sews less and either uses a local tailor, or buys us ready-made outfits from the shop or from Pakistan. Having said that, she'll still turn her hand at making the odd abayah or dress.

I'm always wandering around local shops and markets, Green Street's famous Queens Market has an amazing stall with beautiful fabrics, there's another good market my mum recommends in Romford, and there's always odd fabric shops dotted around in local areas.

I wanted something floral, so had a look around different places to get an idea of prints - these are just some of the ones I found that I loved.

These are some of the fabrics I ended up buying, you can see they're all floral prints in different colours and styles, I wanted light cotton and polyester fabrics which would be ideal for warmer weather, especially because it can be difficult to know how to dress modestly and still wear light outfits when it gets hot.

I decided to make the light green floral one on the left first  - can you believe this fabric only cost me £3?!

I gave the fabric to my mum, who in all honesty, made the outfit for me. I wanted to make the majority of it, but I didn't do much in the end (mostly because she made the whole thing in a day and didn't want to wait for me!)

She made it in a straight-shirt style, the front being higher than the bottom, with buttons along the front and full sleeves. She didn't add a collar to this one, mainly because I hate wearing collars with a scarf (one of the reasons I hardly wear smart shirts!), and also so the top wouldn't be too bulky. The actual fabric is very light and sheer as well, so the material was not structured enough to be shaped into a collar. I did love the buttons on this though, they're big and chunky, and look pretty striking against the fabric. Again, these buttons were from my mum's collection of buttons!

I was really happy that my mum made this in time for me to take it on holiday with me to Greece - it was just perfect for the weather because it was so light. The shirt itself was quite sheer so I still had to wear a top under it, but it didn't feel too layered and I think it worked quite well.

This is me wearing it on holiday, it was a pretty good fit (which sounds obvious, seeing as it was tailored for me!) and was loose enough to feel breezy and comfortable.

EVALUATION: Although I didn't make this shirt-dress myself, I was really happy with how it came out. I didn't need much fabric (I bought 3 metres to be on the safe side, and probably only used about 2 metres). The actual structure of this shirt was very simple - it's literally three pieces for the body, and two sleeves. I've already worn it about 4 times since I made it last month, and it's perfect modest-wear for me - long and loose.

I also like the fact that this was so cheap, and you won't find this anywhere else! Having said that, I know how easy it is to not bother with making outfits from fabric - I still have printed fabrics that I've bought and never got made from laziness or just the fact that getting it tailored is costly.

I'll be trying another outfit soon to make, and will definitely post results of the next one.

What do you think of making your own outfit - would you try it?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hina Rasim's Eid Soiree Exhibition

Last weekend vendor and organiser Hina Rasim held her latest exhibition in London - I thought it was a great opportunity to check out some of the latest fashions from some of Pakistan's famous designers (and also a good opportunity to pick up an Eid outfit if anything took my fancy.)

My sisters and I took a trip down to Marble Arch where the event was happening to the Raddison Blue, Portmen Hotel, and arrived early to see what was on offer.

The exhibition did not disappoint - there were several beautiful pieces from a range of designers, and I was hard put deciding which one I wanted. I managed to meet (and interview) Rozina Munib, whose designs were gorgeous (and whose interview I'll be posting in a separate post), Ammara Khan, Hina Rasim herself, as well as reknowned photographer Shahid Malik, which I was really glad about as I had a quick conversation with him and introduced myself.

Now onto some pictures of the exhibition, which had a good range of designers, you can see the beautiful designs below as an example!

I noticed that there was a good range of heavier formals (and even a few bridals) as well as semi-formals and casual formals on racks around the exhibition, so my sisters and I spent quite some time browsing and looking at different designs, and comparing styles and prices.

I didn't get a chance to take a snap of all the designer outfits, but I did have my eye on a few particular  outfits, so I'll post these below. I did, however, get to Hina Rasim (the host) and also a couple of other organisers and PR staff who gave a lot of information about both the event and contacting Hina in regards to ordering an outfit at later times should I wish to do so.

The Outfits:

Faiza Samee - this is one of my favourite designers anyway, known for her bright and electic designs, so it was nice to see these displayed. These were around £350ish and made from a lovely silky material in a range of colours and styles, although most of them were long, flowy frock styles.

Sania Maskatiya - I had my eye on a few of this designer's pieces, and I really LOVED the floral pieces. There were a few pieces I lusted after, but unfortunately pieces I liked were all priced between £500-£1000 which was just way above my budget (my sisters did point out I have expensive taste!)

The last outfit below (the light blue floral piece) was my favourite, but at £950ish it was just too much (especially as we have just come back from an expensive holiday!) so I relunctantly had to put it back.

Rozina Munib - I managed to interview this designer on her pieces and loved what she had to say (more on this coming soon!). I also liked the fact that she had a really good range of informal pieces and formals, so there was a range of prices for these outfits. I also liked the fact that there were longer hems, maxi dresses and shorter hems, to appeal to different customers.

Ammara Khan - I didn't get a proper look at this designer's outfits, but what I saw was quite heavily worked, and very colourful, with some beautiful work. There was also an opportunity to see some bridals, unfortunately I forgot to look at prices for these pieces but the work on these just lovely.

There were also a few other big names, such as Elan, Farah Aziz Talib and Sana Safinaz, which were all really lovely piece (although there were less of these pieces), and which we liked too.

I also managed to speak to Hina Rasim about her event (and also see her getting interviewed!), as well as take a snap with my sisters in front of the 'fashion wall'!

As well as outfit designers, there was also a jewellery stand for a company called Tanaya Couture, which had some beautiful pieces that caught my eye, with a good mix of traditional and contemporary styles. These sets were perfect for brides-to-be looking for something luxurious, although I liked the fact that they weren't all overly blingy or too heavy, so could easily be worn for a lot of events.

We saw a good few pieces that we loved, which were at reasonable prices (the clutch bags started from £45) and I spoke to the company's founder who told me about their pieces, as well as their beautiful scarves which were also on display.

Lastly, there was a make-up artist who was also present, Khadijah, who did a free make-up trial on myself and my sister, and also did a make-up demonstration. I asked for light contouring, and the MUA told me the best way to apply, and also what she was using on me, which was really helpful. Needless to say, she did a great job on us!

At the end of the event we also got a cupcake to take home as a treat, which I thought was lovely (they tasted really yummy!)

Photo credits - EveryPhotunity

It was really nice to see designer pieces up close and see the quality of the workmanship - it's easy to be dazzled by catwalk pictures but they don't always show the actual outfit properly. While a lot of these pieces were not cheap, they were superb quality, and certainly more unique than a lot of designs I've seen recently on the high street!

My favourite pieces were the floral Sania Maskatiya ones - although I can't quite afford them, they were a lovely example of floral pieces done right! What do you think of the pieces - do you have any favourites?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

My Online Shopping Experience: Karma Atelier

I've been in love with Pakistani designers Karma for a good few years now, their colourful designs, and their gorgeous designs, so I thought a formal from them would be amazing when a close family wedding came on the horizon.

I've read good reviews before on this forum, and a few people I know have ordered from Karma before, so I was pretty optimistic about placing an order.

I had emailed Karma a couple of times before when making bridal enquiries when doing my wedding preps, so I emailed one of the staff Huma again, who was really helpful in answering questions as before, and explained the ordering process to me.

This is the design I opted for, from an older collection in 2011, but which is still pretty popular. It's called Summer Mehndi, and is a really pretty, girly outfit, with jamawar printed fabric, which I was quoted 65,000 rupees for (but which I reduced the kaam for slightly and also opting for plain silk pants instead of a worked skirt). I didn't want a custom-made outfit as this would cost too much, and I wanted something which looked more classic and worked for a lot of events.

The email process itself didn't take long, mainly because I left the rest of the outfit up to the designers, and waited for it to be made. I gave my measurements from a size chart which was emailed to me, some colour samples, and eventually paid for the outfit via Western Union.

The good thing about Karma is that they are willing to mix and match their designs - you can take colours or designs you like from other outfits to create something you like. I have a friend who is currently ordering her bridals from Karma who said the same thing, she took bits from different outfits to create a slightly altered design more to her liking.

I received a preview of the outfit before it was sent out to me, and loved the colours mixed together. The original design in blue and green were a little bright for me, so I went for a cream colour with pink and teal piping, for a softer look.

I can say, after receiving the outfit, that pictures really don't do justice to the quality of this outfit. The work on this outfit is sublime - it's intricate, detailed and quite defined, with lots of dabka (metal) work, kundan stones and tiny beading.

The is the outfit when I received it, which was packed neatly in a suit-bag, which looked much lovelier in person. I love the feel of the fabric, which is a thick printed silk and is lined inside on both sides.

The shape of this kameez is extremely flattering, with it's slight flare at the bottom, and the hem sits wonderfully. And unlike a lot of my other designer outfits, it actually has a zip! The pants were also made of a really good quality silk material, which I loved, and even the dupatta had really lovely piping.

All in all I'm really happy with my outfit, and the fact that it looks much nicer in person that I thought. While the outfit wasn't cheap, I can see the quality of the work, and it's lovely to finally have a Karma outfit  which looks quite classic and very flattering.

I'll be wearing this soon so I'll be sure to show how I styled it - I already have several ideas to make the piping colours pop, and I can imagine it with a bright pink lipstick already!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

...I'm back!

I know I've been absent for a couple of weeks, but it's for good reason! Hubster and I decided to take a much-needed break to the Greek Islands (we both wanted to go somewhere hot and beachy) and have only just come back now - if you've been following me on my Instagram account, you will have seen all the beautiful places we've been visiting.

I won't overload this post with pictures from my trip, because I'll be doing a travelogue here, so please feel free to check this out!

In the meantime, I have lots of goodies and clothes to post about, and a few weddings happening in the next couple of weeks, so reviews and pictures coming soon!

- Curly Fries xx

Friday, 1 May 2015

Curly Fry's Shopping Therapy! Bourjois Nudes and Pink Lip Creams

I've written before about my love for matte liquid lipsticks, and this hasn't changed as I'm discovering more and more colours and textures.

I've been using Bourjois' Rouge Edition Velvet lip creams a lot recently, and was really happy to see that alongside their usual vibrant colours, there's also some more natural shades, in nudes, pinks and even a brown which I loved. I'm not a huge fan of brown lipsticks, but I love this one, it's a muted pink-brown and very flattering - definitely a shade I'd recommend for most skin tones!

Naturally I ended up with most of the colours in the collection, especially because they are perfect for every day wear without feeling too bright or too much of a hassle - perfect for the office and for a simple, fresh look!

Have you tried any of these? Which colour did you like?