This post was originally posted on seeratsaini.com and has been republished with permission.
I know I can’t be the only one who misses feeling cute — even if I’m just chilling alone in my SF studio (lol what are humans). My need to feel cute, however, is not outweighed by my need to be comfortable. Monday through Friday I’m working my corporate job in leggings/PJs and a work blouse… a corporate mullet if you will. But on weekends, I’ve been trying to find a balance between cute and comfortable that doesn’t leave me feeling like a blob. Here are my four favorite types of go-to, affordable loungewear pieces for a beautiful Saturday or Sunday morning!
I know we all have a couple of these hanging in our closet. Whether it’s a “slip dress style” dress or an actual slip meant to be worn under another outfit, they’re incredibly comfortable and versatile. I love how silky and clingy they are and it’s really easy to just throw one on post-shower, light a candle and feel transformed. Neutral tones are my favorite, and I especially love how nothing is constricting my waist from living its best life. The dress pictured above is an actual slip that goes with a dress, by Laundry, that my mom wore in the ’90s! You can purchase yours on Amazon for less than $25!
If you haven’t invested in a silky robe, you’re missing out! I initially bought one just to comfortably film tutorials in but ended up enjoying the “VS model backstage” vibe that a silk robe exudes. Now it’s my go-to loungewear option whenever I want to wear something comfy yet sexy. It also makes me feel like I’m in a soap opera and I’m more than ok with that. The best part of wearing a silk robe is that you’re basically avoiding getting dressed but still looking put together. This one here is actually from Amazon and is under $15! And check out my tousled hair tutorial while you’re at it!
This piece was never my go-to loungewear before the stay-at-home order. I meant for such an oversized white shirt to be a play on proportions where I could wear corset tops on top or even pair with shorts/boots for a Hailey Bieber vibe. It totally still serves that purpose, but chilling in it makes me feel like a cast member of “Gossip Girl”… or like I’m in that one Jessica Simpson music video (you know which one I’m talking about). I pair it with tall fuzzy socks and it becomes an incredibly comfortable outfit and a Sunday morning staple. You can now pick it up at Zara for just $10! Can I say affordable loungewear FTW?!
I have tons of random lace pieces in my closet that may seem a bit dated and I honestly haven’t worn them in so long. To be honest, I feel like they were more popular in 2016-ish. But it’s really easy to create a vogue-worthy moment with pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in forever, just by mish-mashing them together.
In this particular outfit, the top is from 2016 and the pants are from…wait for it…2014. The pants were actually in the sale bin at Urban Outfitters and the brand name is written so strangely that I can’t make out what it’s trying to say. The one bralette I’ve linked above is from Zara, in the perfect color, for under $10! Or simply look through your closet with fresh eyes and try out some oldies. Or simply seek out some new lace staple pieces to make the most of the ones your already own!
I hope I’ve helped inspire you to look and feel your best, even for just a couple hours, while we stick around inside and continue to practice social distancing! Remember you’re a Goddess and deserve nothing less — yes, that means chic affordable loungewear!
South Asian fashion is nearly always associated with color, glitz, and ornate designs. From embellished bridal wear, weighing as much as the bride herself, to brightly colored sarees, Indian craft and hand embroidery is hard to miss — except when it’s showing up in non-Indian clothing.
South Asian artisans, also known as ‘karigars,’ are the unnamed force behind a designer’s vision. They often reside in rural parts of the Subcontinent and have gathered skill, creativity, and knowledge over generations. During my travels this year, for the launch of my fashion brand Chaa Latte, I witnessed artisans train from as young as seven years old, mastering embroidery techniques by the time they’re in their teens. Crouched over a table in a dimly-lit room, these artisans work tirelessly to adorn yards of fabric with beautiful beads and sequins, or weave glistening gold yarn into silk and cotton with sometimes nothing more than their memory to guide the motif. Some of them have little to no education and have never stepped outside of their village. Yet, hand them thread and a needle and they are among the best embroiderers in the world.
Is Indian hand embroidery as prolific as French lace? I would argue yes, and maybe even more, but without the fame. Established brands and their collections have stood on the craft of these rural artisans for decades but have rarely given credit. Only few Western designers, such as Dries Van Noten and Isabel Marant, proudly celebrate their relationship with Indian craftspeople. Perhaps because of this nearly silent partnership, a label that says “Made in India” or “Made in Bangladesh” does not equate to beautiful, luxurious work — rather, the complete opposite. Fast fashion may be one output, but the true strength of South Asia lies in centuries of incredibly intricate, slow, and artisanal processes.
In a Times of India article, David Abraham of Abraham & Thakore — a well-regarded Indian label — eloquently says that we must recognize the fact that India is one of the very few countries left that can still produce small lot, labor intensive, highly-skilled craft and textiles.
He adds, “And that is the true luxury in a world of growing mass consumerism and an antidote to the very real threats of environmental pollution, global warming and a growing understanding that we need to buy less, pay more for fashion that is more timeless, classic and responsible.”
South Asia’s fashion identity is at a crossroads, and it’s up to designers, especially the younger generation, to build brands that showcase the luxury and painstaking craft of South Asian embroidery, weaving, and the various other hand techniques mastered over centuries. I launched my fashion brand, Chaa Latte, late last year because I believe the true beauty of South Asian fashion is in the subtle, intricate craft and this simply isn’t accessible to North Americans in a way that fits their lifestyle seamlessly. I was set on designing modern pieces for people of all backgrounds, who have a love for art in the form of fashion and have an eye for unique detail.
My first collection encompasses some of my favorite techniques and textiles from India and Bangladesh, including mirror work and silk handloom sarees. The detailing is balanced with simple silhouettes and a neutral color palette. I am now working on my second collection, which will be released in Spring/Summer of 2023.
Like me, many young designers are tapping into their unique heritage to draw inspiration and bring attention to the Western world. I had the pleasure of speaking to two fellow South Asian designers who are making a mark on the US fashion industry, while highlighting their love for South Asian craft. When asked about the role of traditional textiles and techniques in their work, Niharika of Tega Collective responds:
With each collection our designs are co-created with a specific indigenous community highlighting their traditional colors, patterns and natural symbols. Every region in the world has incredible biodiversity so we focus on championing native fibers in South Asia like Khadi (indigenous cotton) and Eri (peace) silk originating from Assam, India.
In a separate conversation with designer Sana Khan Patel, from Aara by Sana, she tells us how she was inspired to start her line:
When a family wedding took me back to my hometown of Lahore, Pakistan, after a long 18 years, I was blown away by the level of skill I saw in the gullys (streets) of Lahore. From fabric dyeing to intricate beading to the quality of tailoring, they did it all so effortlessly and with so much pride. I quickly realized that the artisans simply want to create art but unfortunately, in most cases they are overworked, underpaid and treated extremely poorly. I immediately knew that I wanted to work with and learn from these OG’s as much as I wanted to put them in a position of providing for their families.
It’s the hope that this recognition from up-and-coming brands, like Chaa Latte, will shed light into how much South Asia is truly lending to global luxury fashion and the rich history that makes these art forms unique to our countries.
Ever since we can recall, the Cannes Film Festival has been a merger of movies and glamour. On one side, there are hand-picked films — ready to premiere and make their mark in the world of entertainment — and on the other, audiences and paparazzi alike are served epic moments in fashion.
The festival, aimed to preview upcoming films from all over the world, invites a wide variety of guests that span the film fraternity, of course, but more recently, has opened its doors to many digital content creators, including renowned South Asian creatives.
With a more vast guest list comes a more recent debate: Cannes is a film festival and not a fashion showcase. Kickstarting the debate this year was none other than ace Bollywood director, Nandita Das, who in an Instagram post shared:
Sometimes people seem to forget that it is a festival of films and not of clothes!
In short, Das wants Cannes’ narrative to continue to focus on films.
But of course, there’s been a paradigm shift in the guest list over the last few years; this shift has allowed talents from various industries — including lifestyle content creators, entrepreneurs, etc., who showcase their work in fashion and beauty like fine masterstrokes — to walk the carpet and represent their craft, making space for others in their industry.
Influential names like Dolly Singh, Kaushal, Diipa Buller-Khosla, and Shivani Bafna — all of whom made a raging impact on the red carpet this year — weigh in on the significance of representing South Asian artists/influencers on the red carpet, and how they feel they’ve been part of this paradigm shift at Cannes Film Festival.
I believe that each step we take at events like Cannes sends a powerful message of diversity, cultural richness, and artistic excellence. Representation matters, and the presence of South Asian creators on the red carpet at Cannes helps broaden the narrative of beauty, talent, and creativity. It allows us to showcase our unique perspectives, narratives, and contributions, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive industry. By actively participating and making our presence felt, we help create more opportunities and spaces for South Asian creators, encouraging others to share their stories with the world.
Since 2015, the first time I walked the red carpet, till this year I have always been invited by L’Oreal Paris, one of the main sponsors of the event. It has always been such an honor to be invited to the festival through the makeup brand that I have been using for almost two decades, and, before my social media career began. Personally, I feel a sense of acknowledgment from such a prestigious brand, and its head office teams that sponsor Cannes Film Festival, and value the work I have done and continue to do as a South Asian content creator within the beauty space. Makeup, hair, and beauty will always play a big role within the film industry and it’s something I have always created my content around which is why I am proud to attend.
This is a proud moment not just for me but also [for] my peers and the entire content creator ecosystem given that we have reached such new global stages and presence. Of course, as you said, such film festivals, once considered as an exclusive hub for a congregation of the finest acting talents have, in the last few years, opened their arms to more people from the entertainment industry.
This is not just a sudden phenomenon with a burst of Indian creators at the festival this year but there is increased participation from non-film and non-South Asian celebrities across various spectrums from different sides of the world. Along with the many filmmakers, actors, producers, etc I also met some amazing influencers and entrepreneurs from other sides of the world. It’s amazing to represent India and celebrate and champion the advent of the digital ecosphere on such a prominent platform.
The confluence of actors and creators signified the amalgamation of traditional cinema and new-age digital influence, highlighting the transformative power of creative expression and how festivals like Cannes have become more forthcoming and progressive in their approach.
Cannes, like any other prominent festival, boasts of a red carpet that is synonymous with fashion and glitz, and I wanted to use this opportunity to represent all the amazing Indian fashion designers on the carpet besides, of course, attending the screenings. As someone who is just not an influencer but also an actress, I thoroughly enjoyed all the red-carpet screenings and meeting like-minded film talent from around the world at the event. At some point in the future, I would like to be attending Cannes for a film I’ve featured in.
Creators are often placed into boxes of where they belong and the rooms they can be a part of. Being on the red carpet dismantles the ideology that there’s a cap on how far we, as creators and as a South Asian community, can go and what we can achieve.
The Cannes Film Festival has always been viewed as the epitome of a glamorous event — everyone who attends looks like they’re living their best lives. I used the platform to share an authentic message of what the experience felt like for me. To represent all of us who doubt our potential, experience imposter syndrome, and are nervous to find their place, yet continue to push through to achieve their dreams!
As the first Indian American influencer to walk at Cannes, I hope I can inspire young women to confidently ask, ‘Why not me?’
There’s no doubt that the Cannes Film Festival is centered around films, and continues to be a unique space for the global film fraternity to bring their art and showcase their aptitude. But, creators like Bafna, Singh, Buller-Khosla, and Kaushal — a special shoutout to Raja Kumari for being instrumental in paving the way as well — have their own set of responsibilities to fulfill upon their invitation to the prestigious event. Their will to represent their South Asian identities, celebrate their industries, and continue to hold space for their peers makes their presence at Cannes more than just clothes.
All images in the featured photo are from the influencers’ Instagram feeds.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a time for joy, togetherness, and celebration. As we come together with family and friends to honor the victory of light over darkness and hope over despair, we also exchange heartfelt gifts to show love and to honor those we hold dear. It’s a time to clean and brighten up our homes, dazzle in festive fashion, share and pass down customs we choose to honor with our kids, and savor delectable treats with loved ones. The essence of Diwali lies in the thoughtful exchange of gifts that symbolize affection, appreciation, and blessings. Now, let’s explore our carefully selected brands to help you find the perfect Diwali gifts and beyond (so be sure to bookmark for many desi-centric holidays).
Blume’s vegan, certified clean, climate-neutral, and plastic-neutral range allows you to look and feel good, thanks to its all-natural ingredients. Their TikTok-trending product, the Meltdown Gel Cream with Ceramides, is in our cart — how about yours?
If you’re looking to indulge in some sonu (gold) this festive season, check out Sonu Company for their fine jewelry. As seen on the latest season of “Indian Matchmaking,” they even offer bespoke engagement rings to help you drop a hint to that special someone. This brand is 100% Seema Aunty approved!
RAGA reimagines classic silhouettes with vibrant textiles and beautiful bohemian prints, inspiring authentic self-expression. Whether you’re looking for options for menswear or womenswear, they have something for everyone.
Kulture Khazana’s products are sure to make Diwali a memorable occasion for your kids. Their interactive and engaging products aim to share Indian cultural stories with children through play activities.
As we celebrate Diwali and exchange gifts symbolizing affection and blessings, let’s also remember the importance of mindful giving. Supporting smaller South Asian businesses during this festive season is a wonderful way to strengthen communities. However, let’s buy thoughtfully, within our means, and prioritize meaningful gifts over extravagance. The essence of Diwali lies in love and togetherness, and by doing what works best for you, we can keep that spirit alive.