The one thing I had always wanted was a big French tub. One that I could soak in for hours on end. I’d light a candle, turn on some music, read a book and maybe even indulge in a glass of wine. Ah, livin’ the dream!
When we were looking at houses there were two things I needed: A fireplace and a large French tub. My husband agreed about the fireplace but didn’t think the French tub was a necessity, “Will you actually ever use it?”
He was right. We’d had a tub at our old house and I don’t think I used it to take a bath once. Not once. “Of course I’ll use it! I’ll use it all the time!” I plead my case and he knew there was no point in trying to convince me otherwise. This was a battle he’d already lost. We got the tub.
We settled on our new home in December and officially moved in February. My big, beautiful, tub was adorned with candles, bath bombs and salts, bubble bath, a book, a glass for wine, my favorite books and magazines…. everything I’d dreamed of. Everything I’d dreamed of was in that tub except, of course, me.
I’d stare at the tub every morning when I took a shower and every night when I’d get ready for bed. I’d think to myself how lovely it would be to have the time to soak my stress away. Immediately after, I’d find myself recounting all the things that took precedence over taking a bath: Work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, groceries… existing.
The global pandemic that is COVID19 has brought with it a whole slew of new stresses. Stresses I can’t even begin to express in words. It has given me one unexpected gift: Time. This morning we woke up, made a big brunch, watched a Bollywood flick (Mohabbatein, for those wondering) and I took a bath.
I filled the tub, lit a candle, turned on my music, grabbed my favorite magazine and soaked and soaked and soaked. I sat in the water til my toes and fingers pruned. I sat til the water got cold. I sat in that tub, laundry be damned… Everything that I should have been doing, everything that I could have been doing, was put on hold. And it was glorious.
The latest and greatest in online shopping for South Asian clothes?!
This is gonna be a long one, grab a cup of chai or coffee and get comfy.
Check out the video if you don’t feel like reading:
If you haven’t heard of Lashkaraa, you probably will, very soon. Why? They’re doing a great job marketing their clothes – they’ve got some big named bloggers rocking their chic outfits. If you’ve read my most recent blog about my stash of Indian clothes, you already know that I’m hesitant to order clothes online because 1) the material is usually hit or miss. 2) The customer service is lacking. 3) The fit isn’t the best. And if you’ve read Mindy Kaling’s novel “Why Not Me?” you already know… FIT. IS. EVERYTHING.
I decided to order a couple of things from Lashkaraa to see if the hype was real. Their outfits looked amazing on all of the bloggers and though I know things always look better on models/YouTube stars – I wanted to provide an honest, unbiased, unaffiliated, unsponsored review of the site that provides some of the most stylish South Asian clothes on the market! Read on to see what I found!
WEBSITE The first thing I noticed was that Lashkaraa’s website is very user friendly. If you’ve perused any other South Asian clothing site you’ll know that they’re often hard to navigate and things aren’t sorted in the most logical fashion. Lashkaraa’s site is well organized and it’s easy to find an outfit by type/event. Lashkaraa: +1.
RESEARCH Before jumping the gun and buying a bunch of cute outfits I wanted to do a decent amount of research. I looked for reviews online and I saw that site jabber had mixed reviews. That’s when I saw something odd – there were two 5 star reviews, by two different users, on two different days with the same exact review. If you don’t know what this implies – it just means that a bot may have, at some point (in early 2016), left fake reviews to boost their overall rating. RED FLAG. Lashkaraa: -1.
I tried to find YouTube reviews that weren’t sponsored/affiliated with Lashkaraa because I actually love the idea of seeing how the material looks and moves on real people… plus it’s really easy to read how the person feels about the outfits when they’re talking about them – there weren’t many videos. This is part of the reason I decided to do this post. Sure, beauty bloggers and instagrammers with large followings may receive this stuff in exchange for an honest review but it’s hard to hate something you may or may not have gotten for free, ya feel me? I found KeepingUpWithAnisa’s video where she showed some of the outfits she got from Lashkaraa, including a customized replica of the Roshini Daswani Kewalram “Princess Jasmine” lengha. (She was DYF’s Dubai bride that had 9 different looks). Anisa disclosed she wasn’t sponsored by Lashkaraa, she came across as genuine, and her outfits came out GORGEOUS. (If you haven’t heard of her, do yourself a favor and check her out on YouTube. Her makeup always be on pointtttt.) The best part about it? She mentioned that the Lashkaraa team was always in touch with her/consulting her about the progress of her dress. Good customer service? Sold. I have since noticed that Lashkaraa has been posting more pics of their real-life customers wearing their clothes rather than models… LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. Lashkaraa: +1.
MY ORDER AND THE COST I ended up ordering two outfits from Lashkaraa. I didn’t order stitching for the blouse pieces as my in-laws were going to India and my tailor in India is THE BEST. Seriously, my husband didn’t have my measurements and simply showed him a pic of me… I kid you not the dude sewed a blouse based on a pic and it fit PERFECTLY. Anyway, I digress, see below: Cream satin saree with the stitching for the fall.
Fall Stitching: $2.00 Light pink and white embroidered lehenga – unstitched.
There are constantly sales, so keep an eye out for discount codes! I found a Black Friday discount code and saved $50.00.
Total: $167.00 …about $80.00 for each outfit. NOT BAD. Lashkaraa: +1
The average cost of my outfits in India: $125-$190 with stitching, so that’s saving up to $90/outfit once factoring in stitching costs!
SHIPPING Here’s where things get a little messy. My order was placed 11/22/2017. I received the shipment on 01/20/2018. Most people that reviewed Lashkaraa mentioned that they got their order within 2-3 weeks. Long story short: I was told that my items weren’t ready or there was an issue, week after week. If you want the detailed account read on, otherwise feel free to skip this section:
Emailed Lashkaraa 12/18/2017 – about 4 weeks after I placed my order, they responded 12/19/2017 and explained that couture products take 3-4 weeks. (but it had already been almost four weeks at this point so like, …whut?)
Emailed Lashkaraa, again 12/28/2017 – about 5 weeks after my order. I got a response 12/29/2017 informing me that the items will be dispatched next week.
Next week came and went and I didn’t receive notification of shipment so, again, I emailed them on 1/8/2018 – it had been 6 weeks since the initial order. I got a response 1/9/2018 explaining there was an error in the embroidery. And the items would dispatch over the weekend. Theoretically, this would have been 01/13/2018.
The weekend passed and I still had not received confirmation of shipment. So yet again, I found myself emailing Lashkaraa on 01/15/2018 – it had now been 7 weeks since my original order. I kindly asked them to cancel my order and provide a
refund as my in-laws were leaving for India in a couple of weeks and I would not be able to get the items to them in time for them to be stitched, thus, deeming this whole experiment fruitless… Like clockwork I got a response on 01/16/2018 saying my items had dispatched. I also received shipment information on that day.
I received my items on 01/20/2018. Almost 8 weeks after order. This contrasts greatly with Anisa’s experience and the reviews I read online. Lashkaraa: -1.
OUTFITS So I guess this is the most important part and what everyone is most interested in- the actual outfits. The saree: The satin saree is BEAUTIFUL. The reason I was immediately drawn to it was it’s simplicity. It’s just an all-white, satin saree. If you know me, you know I LOVE Sonam Kapoor’s style and this outfit just screamed Sonam Kapoor. The simplistic saree paired with the net/beaded blouse wonderfully contrasts old-bollywood style with new-bollywood style. I’m all about it. The beading on the blouse was beautiful, as well. The only real issue (I wouldn’t even call it an issue) is that the blouse lining was more of an ivory whereas the saree was more of a bright white. Honestly, this really doesn’t bother me much. I’m 5’7 and I’d probably have to wear conservative heels or flats with this saree after tucking, so if you’re taller than me, keep that in mind. The lehenga: My biggest fear ordering this lehenga was whether or not Lashkaraa would provide a liner for the white lehenga. They did. The skirt wasn’t see through! HALLELUJAH. The embroidery featured on the skirt isn’t embroidered directly on the skirt but rather is patchwork. It’s done really tastefully and given the price, I don’t mind. The net (this is usually a big point of contention for me) on the blouse and dupatta is a little stiff but nowhere near as bad as some of the stuff I’ve received in the past. Lashkaraa: +1.
THE VERDICT Would I recommend that you order from Lashkaraa? Reemskii rating: 4/6 stars.
I know, I know, out of 6 is a weird rating but that’s just how the cookie crumbled.
ABSOLUTELY! …just not for a specific event, unless you’re ordering at least a few months in advance. Keep in mind that I didn’t even get my outfits custom-stitched. I just ordered the material and it still took 2 months for me to get it. My in-laws will now get that material stitched in India. I believe Anisa’s custom-made Princess Jasmine outfit took 3 months from order to delivery (I may be wrong). I would be mindful of the order times and discrepancies in customer experiences before ordering.
While I really want to believe that everything that was corresponded to me via email is the truth and that this was just an isolated event I, unfortunately, can’t vouch for that. I will say, however, that Lashkaraa’s customer service team never ghosted me. Every week that I emailed them I had a response within 24 hours. I was never left unanswered for whatever that’s worth.
The clothes were decently priced, they were beautifully made and as long as you’re not in a rush, I don’t see why you wouldn’t order from Lashkaraa!
PS: If you’re part of Lashkaraa’s team, I’d love to discuss this review with you further to help improve the customer experience. If you’re a viewer or reader who found this helpful and would like to see more content like this, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.
When we set out to find our first home, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Though we agree on most things, Sunny and I disagree on a lot of stylistic elements for homes. I like brick, Sunny prefers stucco. I wanted a fireplace, Sunny didn’t need one. I prefer carpet for living spaces and Sunny prefers hard-wood throughout the house (I mean, rolling around with your puppy on the carpet is THE BEST, amiright?). There was one thing we agreed upon: We needed an open floor layout! We wanted our kitchen area to be open and visible from the great room. Imagine hosting a party, who wants to be stuck prepping in a kitchen all alone when everyone’s having a great time in the living room?! Although, to be completely honest, with our friends and family we never make it past the kitchen island… We prefer to hover around the food! (Hence the 8 ft. kitchen island.)
For me, the kitchen is the most important part of the house. I know that your bedroom is supposed to be your sanctuary but the kitchen is where the real magic happens. It’s where you prep, cook, eat, clean, laugh, talk about how your day was… I could go on and on. I’ve always been insistent on having a decent sized kitchen, even when we had our one bedroom apartments. This was super problematic at our last apartment because while we had a beautiful bathroom and gorgeous kitchen, we essentially had no living room. #thestrugglewasreal. I knew when we finally bought our new house that the kitchen would very quickly become one of my top priorities!
We purchased our “quick-delivery” home right after the framework was built, just in time to pick out a lot of the details/color schemes. Also, before you think we’re seasoned “fixer-uppers” it’s important to note that our first house was a new construction – there wasn’t much rehabbing to be done, especially since we picked out most of the finishes. My husband and I definitely still wanted to add a bit of “us” to the house. I sometimes dream of buying a huge fixer-upper when we retire and spending the latter years of our life renovating it but Sunny is quick to remind me that while the idea seems lovely, the work would be extensive and never-ending.
Back to the point – I envisioned a very inviting, rustic, warm kitchen – think “farmhouse chic” with an extra splash of chic. Once Sunny saw the vision he was with it whole-heartedly. After the amazing work our builders did we’d only really need to update lighting fixtures and add a backsplash to complete my perfect kitchen! Unfortunately, one of the only things our builder didn’t offer was the perfect backsplash. Luckily for me, my hubby is pretty handy and he thought we could easily tackle a backsplash ourselves. While pretty mosaic tiles are always stunning – I wanted something a little more timeless and simple. We went with classic subway tile with grey grout to match the white and grey theme we already had going. I couldn’t have been happier with the results!
I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again and again and again… one of my favorite parts of wedding planning was seeing how well Sunny and I worked together. It really solidified the fact that I had found my lobster. I saw the same magic unfold while working on this project. I’m thankful for moments like these, where I can take a step back and smile because we truly do make such an amazing team. While it wasn’t all roses and it was definitely a lot more difficult than we had anticipated (message me if you wanna know more about the not so fun stuff), I wouldn’t have had it any other way! ❤
One of the questions I get asked most frequently is where I get my Indian clothes. To be frank, I don’t even know where more than half of them come from! While I’d love to travel to India, annually, to purchase a bunch of clothes it’s just not feasible. The first time I went to India was in 1998, for a cousin’s wedding. The second time was in 2008, also for another cousin’s wedding. Most recently I went in 2016, to shop for my own wedding. Following this pattern, the next time I go to India will probably be some time between 2024 and 2026. (Unless my awesome husband decides to treat me to a trip just to go shopping. *wink*wink*) Indian boutiques in the US significantly mark up their prices and there’s no way I’d pay three times as much for something mediocre and generic! While many people love online shopping for their ensembles, I just haven’t been happy with the products I’ve received – I don’t like cheap materials and there’s just no way of ensuring you’ll be receiving quality materials before you order. (You all know that the stiff net that often comes with Indian outfits is the WORST. It doesn’t pleat, it doesn’t sit pretty AND IT ITCHES!)
Obviously, the most recent of my Indian clothes were purchased when I went to do my own wedding shopping. I was there to hand select them. Before then, I’d find pictures of things I’d like and my younger, cooler, masis (maternal aunts) would use that as inspiration to find me the perfect outfits. Luckily for me, I’ve always trusted their judgement and they’ve never failed me. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of my masis. More importantly, nobody wants to spend lakhs on lakhs on lakhs for an outfit they’ll likely wear once. *Cue my wish list of Sabyasachi outfits* Regardless of my abundance of Indian clothes, I tend to repurpose and recreate a lot of items! This post is for the gals who can commiserate and want to learn how!
Learn the basics of sewing!
Sewing machines are fairly inexpensive and if you don’t want to splurge on one, a simple needle and thread work great! Even with my aunts bringing me tons of outfits, I’ve always altered things to better fit my needs. I’ve added fun borders to older blouses to spice them up/repurpose them to use with newer outfits and saris!If you don’t trust yourself to do a quick fix, you could always find a cheap tailor!
Think outside the box! The best outfits are the ones I’ve created myself! Invest in cheap crop tops – Forever 21, Zara, Asos (the list goes on and on) have tons of sales and I’ve often found the best Indian-inspired crop tops for less than 10 bucks! If you are able to shop in India, I bought a bunch of pre-stitched blouses in different colors for 400 rupees, each (That’s like 6 bucks USD, guys!). These tops paired with my moms old saris or a maxi skirt and matching dupatta (also repurposed from older outfits) tend to create the most trendy looks! The latest craze is Indo-Western outfits inspired by comfort and minimalism – this is super easy to recreate shopping at shops right here in the US!
Make your own trends! When I went shopping for my wedding the boutiques kept showing me dresses with velvet accents/dupattas or dresses made entirely out of velvet – I get the appeal, it makes outfits look regal and who doesn’t want to look like a queen on their wedding day?! I, however, am not a fan of velvet (we can have a discussion on this later, if you’d like). I still maintain that no outfit holds a candle to the elegance of a simple silk sari, others detest them and think they’re “motherly”. My point is, just because everyone seems to be wearing chiffon floor-length gowns doesn’t mean that’s what you have to wear. Wear what you like and have on hand, regardless of what’s in this season! Spoiler alert: I still frequently rock silk saris. 😉
“Reema? Have a seat I’ll be right with you.” I made my way to the waiting area and sat nervously fidgeting with my phone and fingers. I felt my stomach tensing up into a million knots and thought I should find the nearest exit, you know, just in case. My nerves were getting the best of me and I thought I might pee myself as a result of the tsunami of anxiety that I was engulfed in. She had said she’d only be a minute but she was running late and it was taking her much longer than expected. This was not a good sign. I was alone in my thoughts and this gave me time to reconsider.
I looked up at my husband, my heart racing, and I knew he saw the fear in my eyes. He returned a sympathetic gaze, offered his hand and asked, “You want to quit?” I felt a huge lump in my throat and a tinge of regret as I shook my head in denial of what my insides were so obviously feeling. “Good,” he replied, “I wasn’t going to let you.” He smiled at me reassuringly, in a way that told me it was all going to be alright.
The next words I remember hearing were, “Reema? Have a seat. So what are we doing today?” After that, I remember explaining that I wanted to donate my hair. I wasn’t sure whether I had enough, but the minimum was 8 inches. My hairstylist assured me that I had plenty and that I could probably donate over a foot, if I wanted to. I bit the bullet and told her to go for it. As the first ponytail was snipped, I felt myself slowly easing into a smile. By the last, and fifth, ponytail, I was smiling from ear to ear, my tension had disappeared and I had never been so sure of anything in my life.
Fighting cancer is hell and I know this because I’ve seen what it’s capable of up close. If I was this afraid of cutting my hair, imagine what it’d be like sitting in a waiting room awaiting a therapy that could potentially save your life? Especially when you’re tired, your body hurts and you really just don’t feel like fighting anymore… There was no way I was going to turn around and I definitely was not going to be afraid. I was going to donate my hair and I was going to do it with a smile on my face.
I’ve donated to various charities throughout the years but this time I wanted to do more than write a check. I had grown out my hair for my wedding and promised myself that at the end of it I was going to donate my most prized possession to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Pantene Beautiful Lengths aims to, “make it possible for women everywhere to share their hair with women who’ve lost theirs.” I know most women don’t feel as strongly as I do about hair so this may all seem a bit dramatic. However, I also believe that most women don’t think that much about their hair because they’ve always had it. Imagine waking up tomorrow and not having any hair! It’d be a huge shock and your confidence would definitely take a hit, whether male or female. I wanted to make a difference in something that a lot of women battling cancer face and I feel like I truly have. I already plan on growing my hair out again for the sake of donation!
I challenge all of you reading this to donate your hair at least once. I mean it, stop what you’re doing and go put it on your bucket list! Especially if you’re a brown girl like me. (Indian hair is highly desirable for wigs because it blends with most other hair seamlessly.) It’s just hair, it’ll grow back and you’ll be doing a great thing! Even if you don’t want to donate your hair for an altruistic cause, there are many benefits to having shorter hair – my head feels POUNDS lighter, I save lots of money on styling products, and with the help of an amazing stylist I’ve learned how to avoid heat products and still roll out of bed looking like a rock star! If nothing else, you’ll gain an extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning and I’m all about that! 😉
If you’d like more information about donating your hair check out Pantene Beautiful Lengths