pretty paisley

My article featured on South Asian lifestyle magazine Divanee.com on the "newest" print popping up all over town:

collage created using polyvore.com
I’m pretty prints obsessed and always looking for a new one to spice up my wardrobe. Over the years there’s been more than a passing fancy with tribal, leopard, floral, graphic, ikat, painterly, you name it. Bar camo, I think I’ve tried them all.  But the print currently on my mind is rather closer to home.

Paisley, showcased so heavily in the intricate gold and silver thread work of subcontinental garments, is the print that won’t quit. The epitome of traditional elegance in South Asia, this pattern is now making the rounds among style setters across the globe, and into the wardrobe rotation of yours truly. 

Origins and history

The teardrop-shaped paisley print originated in India and Iran over 1500 years ago and is still commonly featured in the rugs, textiles, jewelry and garden landscaping of that region. Thought to derive from such botanical influences as flower petals, cypress trees, and mangoes, paisley was originally associated with the Hindu and Zoroastrian traditions before it made its debut on the world stage in the 17th century.

Traders from the east introduced paisley print in Europe to much acclaim, and by the 1800s there was a huge demand for textiles featuring the pattern, especially after English soldiers returned from the colonies bearing gifts of finely-woven shawls from Kashmir (cashmere). In fact, the word paisley derives from the Scottish town of the same name, which became known for its production of the patterned shawls. In Farsi and Urdu the words used are boteh or buti; and in Punjabi, as I grew up hearing it, paisley is referred to as ambian, from amb, the Punjabi word for mango.

From woven shawls to cotton bandanas and men’s silk ties, paisley seamlessly entered the West’s modern style consciousness. It experienced a major moment in the 1960s and 70s when an interest in Indian spirituality surfaced, propelled by the Beatles visit to India in 1968. Thereafter, the print took on a life of its own with the hippie counterculture, and the rest is history.

Wear it today

In its modern iteration, paisley print is no longer about flowing caftans, braids, and incense. Rather, major retailers J. Crew, Zara, and Topshop are featuring it in stores, while design houses like Thakoon, Oscar de la Renta, and Chloe have explored it in their recent collections.

To wear the “ethnic” print in an unexpected, preppy fashion, try a paisley chiffon blouse with a classic schoolboy blazer, cropped skinny pants and menswear-inspired slippers.  Or pair a printed pencil skirt with a bright turtleneck and pumps for a more professional look. And if all else fails, sneak into your mom’s closet for her embroidered ambian-wali cashmere shawl. You’ll look so 2011.


sweet skimmers

While I adore heels as much as the next girl (but slightly less than your average dude), they don't make a daily appearance in my life. At work, I'm on my feet all day. After work, well, I live in casual Cali where heels are definitely optional. Instead of despairing and letting this kill my fashion mojo, I've wholeheartedly embraced flats and decided I will not let them impede my fashionability one bit. Lucky for me, and anyone else who wants to be comfy + cute, we have loads of options to choose from!

The past two years, I was all about menswear-inspired loafers, boat shoes, and moccasins; but this year, I'm channeling my more lady-like side. (It happens once in a while). I'm loving dainty little flats with bows, glitter, leopard print, and embellishments. Take a look at my round-up and tell me what you think! xo


trend alert: woven bags

Tribal print is one of those trends that comes and goes pretty consistently, so much so that it's basically a perennial classic. I mean, who doesn't want to feel like they're on vacation in some exotic locale?

But this look is not just for floaty caftans and swimsuit coverups. The tribal look has infiltrated the highest echelons of the handbag industry-- in the shape of woven satchels and cross bodies that are guaranteed to spruce up your wardrobe.
tommy ton

You may be wary of matching these bags with the rest of your outfit, but the freshest way to wear them is to simply think of them as neutral accessories. Woven multi-color bags go with everything. For my part, I love a good print mix-and-match. I tend to favor preppy wear, so throwing in some tribal print with my stripes and bold colors adds a little unexpected oomph. Feel free to pair with your favorite leopard, floral or paisley prints as well.

Here's how I might wear this Burberry Prorsum woven bag to work, no hippy beachy vibe to be had: wide leg trousers, a bow blouse under a cropped gray sweater, with high-heeled loafers and stacked bangles. 


So what do you think? Who's already wearing this look? I'd love to hear how you've incorporated it into your wardrobe.