Bollywood Flow on a Budget!

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! 

This blouse used to be long-sleeved, I altered it to be sleeveless by myself!

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!

This entire outfit cost me $36! Maxi skirt from a boutique in Surat: $30, pre-stitched blouse from a market in Surat: $6, dupatta repurposed from one of my mother-in-law’s older dresses: FREE!
I used that same $6 blouse to spice up this lehenga: the original blouse was blue and I wanted a contrasting blouse!
I paired this $10 gold-sequin crop top from Asos with one of my mom’s older saris to create a modern look!
This outfit was only $38! Maxi from boutique in Surat: $30, cream/gold crop top from Forever 21: $8, dupatta repurposed from one of my anarkalis: FREE!

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. 😉

Old is gold! Love simple silk saris!