Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Paradox of Faith of Faith and Fashion

My mother is an exceptional seamstress. When I was a little girl, we'd spend hours in Los Angeles' fashion district, picking out the most decadent, yet cost-effective, fabrics she could find. With a keen eye, she would doctor her own trims and create patterns, occasionally watching the latest Bollywood (her hometown) flick for inspiration.

My father was a catalyst to her creativity, pushing her to design pieces that were one-of-a-kind. My parents were immigrants with scanty means in those days, but they never compromised on attire. You could say that I, their American-born daughter, essentially grew up in her own couture haven and that she has them to blame for her extravagant tastes. Just kidding.

Well, not entirely.

My dad fondly recalls that at dinner parties we'd host when I was around 4, I would run to my room, throw on my blingiest outfit and descend down the hall. I'd slink past each guest as tea flowed and smiles were exchanged—waiting for someone to give me a sign they noticed. This pattern continued, as I'd dash back to change and venture out again. After prancing around in several outfits, one particularly kind aunty would comment, "Vah! (Wow!) Saba has SO many pretty clothes!"

The embodiment of that first, precious social media "like." God bless her.

Fast forward to my tweens. My flamboyance gets lost in a conservative upbringing as not only a first generation Muslim-American female, but also one from the Indian subcontinent. The region a good portion of my ancestors hail from, Hyderabad, is perhaps the most conservative of all Muslim cultures. I adore the richness of the region—it boasts exquisite culinary masterpieces (dishes can take up to a week to prepare authentically), remnants of royalty from the Mughal Empire and decorum to rival that of the haughtiest Manhattan school of etiquette. In a nutshell, I was raised to be prim and proper and tradition has been steeped into my bones.

I was rarely encouraged to push boundaries. You simply never, EVER rocked the boat.

As a teen I poured obsessively over fashion magazines, burning silhouettes-of-the-moment into my young, impressionable brain. I marveled at supermodels that weren't waking up for less than 10 grand a day. Despite all this, I remained a shell of know-how, lacking the means and bravado to flaunt what I was taking in. In a community that encouraged the safe, pushing the envelope with style was allowed only if it was done within guidelines. It couldn't make anyone uncomfortable.  I spent years adhering to all that was expected of me, squishing myself into a little box that never quite fit.

When I married my college sweetheart after graduation (not arranged, hence adventurous at that time), all these different parts of my identity were starting to merge together. I was, and always will be, the eldest daughter: responsible and parent pleasing. My husband, on the other hand, is the youngest of five children, with the confidence of a lion. Always doted upon, he was raised by parents and older siblings who treated him, as a child, to lavish basketball shoes. His eclectic tastes were cause for celebration. Rarely did he have boundaries placed on his self-expression. I was drawn to his mettle in those formative years, and quietly observed how he effortlessly melded all the different parts of himself into a package that no one dared question.

As we raise our sons, 7 and 9, I try to keep the doors open to that self-expression.

When my husband ceremoniously mohawk-ed their little newborn heads at home
(what's turned into a bit of a tradition for us and continues to this day), it caused a never-ending murmur of disapproval from elders and even community leaders. Initially I wavered, the grown-up-pleaser in me conflicted. My husband? He never even flinched, his unwavering tide of self-assuredness firmly in tact.

My reservations have always affected my work. I'm someone outwardly adhering to certain tenets of her faith instead of pulling out every card to look the part of photo-ready bombshell, as is expected in this industry. It's a dichotomy that one can't understand unless we touch on the elephant in the room—the hijab.

Ah, the hijab.

Such a controversial little piece of fabric. The term means much more than restrained clothing. It's a concept, a stunning notion to raise a woman above her beauty, to make her something much more substantial than her appearance alone. (My culture, vs. religion, however, places a HUGE emphasis on women and their in-your-face beauty. Again, watch any Bollywood film for reference). That's the "Islam For Dummies" definition.

There are many reasons women choose to wear the hijab, but I'm not looking to discuss them here.

It's been a challenge finding my way in fashion, indulging this passion which, ironically enough, is all about appearance. To do this while focusing on my inner, spiritual journey, to strengthen the part of myself that is much harder to prettify—my heart—is a constant struggle.

My philosophy is this: In the real world, we are constantly judged based on how we look. It's never a bad idea to look one's best, even while holding onto certain aspects of one's faith. Freedom of self-expression at it's very finest: the American way. In conservative circles, this idea is considered too self-indulgent. In progressive ones, the spiritual restrictions on dress are problematic. Amidst their bickering, I remind myself of this fabulous anecdote:
"Who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of God, which He has produced for His servants?" (7:32)

Me: Gifts of God? Hello, leather handbags and mohair sweaters! I see you, and God wants me to have a grand old time with you. As long as I'm not forking over more of my paycheck to Celine than I am to charity, I am free to enjoy you as I please.

In today's world of accessible style, having one's finger on the pulse of fashion can sometimes be as easy as browsing the right hashtags on Instagram. A few years ago, I started a business helping friends with what I knew and could translate from the runway into their very real, substantial lives—the lives of teachers, lawyers, housewives, accountants and social workers. If I can make someone feel better through their appearance, it can positively impact all the deeply important work they are doing.

This aspect of working in fashion – helping others – slowly became more gratifying than blogging my outfit of the day. Fun, but not always the best use of my time.  My #OOTD also didn’t have the greatest effect on my heart, which I’m struggling to grow and nurture away from distractions and today’s culture of  “worship thyself”.  If I’m too busy planning my next look so everyone can comment on how cute I appear in one strategic photograph, I already know the dinner-party-parading little girl will reign supreme, inflating my ego and distracting me from more consequential things.

Still, that girl's in there somewhere—part of a whirling, messy dervish of contradictions and harmony that make up who I am. Depending on the situation, what blend do I bring forth to tackle the situation at hand? When I succeed at the perfect mix of dinner-party flaunt, poise and etiquette, zeal for glamour, and love and consciousness of the Divine, I consider the day to be a success.

At home, it means enjoying my younger son's insistence on mismatching his socks. He lingers each day in front of his closet. While it infringes on my hustle to get out the door, I usually allow it. Even when I lose patience, he doesn't rush the meticulous pairing of his fuchsia stripe with the yellow argyle. I'm sure someone's raising an eyebrow somewhere, but at this point, it's purely inconsequential.

As written for

Thursday, March 26, 2015


"Art is the elimination of the unnecessary" -Pablo Picasso

Less is more. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. We have all heard these phrases time and time again, and may even think we agree.

But how many of us truly emobody this philosophy? More often than not, I work with folks who are very adamant about what they like. They’ll tell me based on one glance if they hate something or love, like it or just aren’t a fan.

Enter the philosophy of minimalism. It’s classic, it’s cool, it never goes out of style. What’s not to like? Minimalism is having a moment. People will like the look on others, but when it comes to themselves, it’s hard to grasp the concept. When out shopping, for instance. Shoppers are more likely to go for the embellished shirt or the printed scarf, versus the plain one. On it’s own, on the hanger, on the rack…it just seems more exciting. Plain equals boring in many minds.

But when you think of your clothing as a means of showcasing YOU – your face, your new haircut, your accessories (which are often repeated on a daily basis),  and more importantly:  your personality, your charisma, your beliefs, your occupation, your status - all the many things clothing can come to represent…  it’s important to remember that the apparel is often just the background, the border around the actual picture.  And if you bring in too many elements, if the package becomes too busy…the most important element gets lost. And that is you. 

So next time you are out and about...remember. Less can be more. And often is. Everyone is allowed to have those days, where more is more. But they should be an exception versus the norm. And in a day and age where everyone is trying to do "more", "less" can be a refreshing and often unexpected look that makes you stand apart from the crowd of tired "mores". 

And that is anything but boring. 

Wear the clothes, don't let the clothes wear you

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


As the two-year anniversary quietly approaches, I'm taking a moment to step back and think.  Actually,  I do a lot of that what's a little more, I say? :)

I rarely get personal in this space - I've always tried to keep it professional and slightly detached, because of how guarded I am about my personal life, and because of the topic at hand. And because of how highly I regard the confidentiality of those I help. Not everyone wants to go shouting from the rooftops post makeover a la Oprah or TLC's "What Not To Wear". Nor does everyone want to star in their very own before and after album only to have it blasted on the internet.  The vibe most people want to give off is: I woke up looking like this.

So here I am, digging deeper and sharing more, because all the people I have ever been inspired by and looked up to have this key element in common - a true, honest voice about all their life experiences and how it shapes who they are. The good and the bad. And also because at the heart of it,  fashion can be so...well, superficial. Like, horrendously superficial.  People sizing up people simply based on outward appearance alone. Call me naive, but it makes me shudder.  I cringe thru events where this is the primary criteria of judgment of a person - you know, the ones where people don't even try to HIDE the fact that they are giving you the once over from head to toe? No shame.

Two steps forward...

I think you can be a person who enjoys dressing up and understands the importance of it (I DESPISE the overused word "fashionista") and still be....well, a genuine, non-pretentious person who sizes up people based on more than whether or not they are wearing last season's chelsea boot or just how uncomplicatedly, perfectly distressed their boyfriend jeans are.  The tired notion of "one-upping", the endless effort involved in staying ahead of the curve is at the core pointless. Especially when it nixes the enjoyment personal style can produce when practiced in moderation.  Because even if you somehow think you were successful, at the end of the day, there's always someone better:  someone with more access, someone more unique, someone more original, someone (I'm just gonna say it!) skinnier, someone more cutting-edge. In this fleeting, flippant vacuum of self-indulgence,  it's been challenging keeping my intentions pure and very honestly gauging what the payback of some assignments has been. Was this particular "adventure" fulfilling? Has it helped me grow? Do I feel a sense of satisfaction? How happy was the client I helped? Or was the whole thing just something to humble-brag about on social media?

"So....what is it you do EXACTLY?" someone will prod gently with either a genuine desire to know or  with a sharp eyebrow and at times, a snarky disposition.  This question has been inserted casually into more conversations than I can remember (I can count on one hand how many people asked me this same question about the "regular" full time job I held for six times longer than I've done this one. Go figure?), and hence, I should have a clear cut answer by now. But it's not that simple.

I've dipped my toes into a bit of everything that comes with the territory - posting outfits of the day, flying out for fashion week amidst the polar vortex on a sudden whim, stepping out of my comfort zone into mens fashion in the NBA, writing for different publications as well as my own blog, styling for photo and video shoots, even coming out of my shell from "behind the scenes" and starring in my shoot. Designing on a larger level was once a thought (the highly saturated market and abundance of items to choose from keeps me from going down that road - why add to the mix when there's already so much to choose wisely from? But then again...that perfect dress I want exists....only in my head. Hmm..maybe someday?)

As enjoyable and exciting all of these experiences have been, something has always been slightly amiss.  I really had to think - are any of those things at the very essence of what I'm doing? So then, back to the original question - WHY am I doing this? What is the point here?

At times, I have felt jaded by my experiences. Rubbing shoulders with people in the industry has occasionally left me disheartened. But also inspired.  Hence the see-saw of my emotions around style and fashion (I'm a Pisces = ruled by my emotions. Yes, it can suck sometimes but I've accepted it as a little quirk). So really, the way something FEELS is paramount, over how it plays out logically in my head.  At the end of the day - it's just clothing, the outer, the fleeting.  What profundity is there to that? It's fun, it's ephemeral, don't think too much about it, thassit.  Sitting back and watching seasons pass, styles leave and reemerge, makes one realize that it should be taken lightly.  And so, just fashion and styling at face value couldn't be all I was doing. I couldn't accept that. There had to be something else. Something more substantial.

Let me back up a bit. As I may have mentioned, before all this started, I worked in tech at a local retailer for about a decade.  I quit in order to spend more quality time with my dizzyingly-quickly growing fan club (aka my children). After a few months of travel and leisure, catching up on house projects (stenciling a powder room, anyone?), and exploring some other creative outlets (I'll leave it at just that), I started getting....well, BORED. The work/home life balance has apparently been seeped deep into me, and as much as I love eating my lunch sitting down and cooking dinner without my laptop open next to the stove while a load of laundry waits to be dumped in the dryer, I needed a little "sumpin sumpin" to enrich my everyday existence, outside of home and family.

At the risk of sounding outlandish, it actually started out as a genuine desire to help others. I have always maintained that I would do this work gratis if it didn't take up so much time - time away from family, time away from my other commitments. In that sense I wasn't looking for a solid income necessarily - I have been blessed enough to have left that need behind. It just felt good to assist others with an aspect of their life I had some know-how of, one they didn't necessarily have the time or desire to explore. It's outsourcing, really.

The recent explosion of modest fashion has coincided nicely with my little shenanigans. I am a few years removed from the new generation of IG bloggers - as cute, confident, and creative as I think they are, it's not me. The mipsters video, the aftermath, the universal struggle to feel beautiful as women and to stay true to who we are...watching a whole new generation struggle to balance this superficial reality of scrutiny under the spotlight of social media - it's all mind-boggling. And I never felt like I fit into this rapidly growing bubble.

Because the woman I work with has bigger things on her mind. She needs to get dressed quickly. Functionally. Covering according to her own personal belief system. For the rain. For the heat. For her workplace's distinct corporate culture. Without spending a month's paycheck. Not with what her mommy, daddy, or gaga-eyed fiancé/husband gave her. Not for a photograph to be posted. Most often with means she has worked very hard to earn with her own blood, sweat, and tears. Without teetering in the highest platform heels or necessarily becoming a slave to trends.

The sum of all these realities has helped me realign what is at the crux here - the deep-rooted pleasure I get from helping strong, substantial women (and occasionally, men) who are so much more than what they wear - women who are housewives, women who are professionals, women who are out there doing some relevant work in the world: whether it be mothering, teaching, defending innocent people, performing reconstructive surgery, trotting the globe doing social work, speaking in front of thousands, taking sacred vows on their big day - to give those women a hand and ease their load so they can focus on what really matters - THAT, is the essence of what I strive to provide.

We've heard it all before - but it's so, so true. Women by nature are just so darn giving and become so absorbed in being the caretakers of others, they often fail to care for themselves. To help such women in the little way in which I do gives me a unique sense of fulfillment.  The world is unfortunately more superficial than we like to believe - appearance matters. And the anxiety most women face around the dreaded daily question of  "what to wear?" is alarmingly high.  I was actually surprised by the number of people reaching out to me, with their personal stories and struggles.

I aim to provide a safe space for people to be completely be honest about what those personal struggles are - weight fluctuations, change in lifestyle, new baby, limited budget, clothes too fancy for the actual lifestyle they lead (ahem...I'll be my own client forever when it comes to this one) - the list is endless and at times, surprising. Even with girlfriends, we can hold back on our true issues. But when I come into the picture solely for this purpose, people's guards can come crashing down. And that's when the true work begins.

So yes - attending fashion shows and posting #ootd's can be exciting and it can give people something to look at when they wonder just what it is I do.  But it's never felt like enough. In fact, it can be a huge distraction from the real stuff because let's be real...blogging about your #ootd regularly is like, seriously exhausting. Putting together the outfit, shopping for your next look, staying on top of trends, finding someone who loves you a whole lot from every angle (even your bad side!) and is still always willing and available to take just enough snaps so you have a sufficient assemblage to choose from...then editing, linking items, instagram hashtags, etc...I could not keep up.  With my already limited hours to dedicate to all this, I just didn't find that aspect to be as satisfying as others. And if I'm being honest, it wasn't true to my nature.  Some have told me this is a huge deterrent for this kinda work. But I can't fight what doesn't feel right especially when I'm left feeling unfulfilled after a whole lot of effort.  Again, more power to those doing it! I immensely enjoy staring at your beautifully orchestrated photos - my IG experience just wouldn't be the same without them! You are all so pretty, inspiring, and innovative. I'm just way too sheepish and lazy to pull it off myself :/

It's been a quiet time in cyber world for SBD, but things are steady and satisfying. And although that isn't saying much, it's a reflection of how I'm feeling about this little jaunt I've experienced and for what's ahead.  So now you know - I've had my head in the clouds and have been contemplating the greater meaning of all this. It's taken some gritty honesty and some cathartic experiences to get here. But I wanted to share. And that's the God-honest truth :) xo

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Supreme Season

It's no secret I have a fall fetish. Everything about this season just jives with every fibre of my being - the shorter days, the crisper nights, the return of my favorite TV shows,  apple and pumpkin confections, rich stews and soups in abundance, and of course, extended holiday shopping hours :)

This week it feels like fall has finally dug its stubborn yet patient heels deep into the leaf-laden earth, and I am a little astonished at how strongly this puts a positive spin on my mood.  I feel like a bit of a broken record every year, complaining that I can't put on those exciting fall finds until it actually gets cold, blah blah blah...but I'm over it.  I think. Well, I'm trying. And before I offend anyone dealing with sub-zero extremities, just know this all comes from a Cali-born and raised gal who craves the four seasons to make their distinct marks in her year.

Rather than being ruled by my emotions, I've attempted to apply a logical reality in my head. This is in order to avoid the usual emotional heartache I experience as I wait impatiently for summer to go away (this travesty usually starts in early September). Here goes:

According to temperatures and precipitation (versus conventional thought), the following is my seasonal breakdown of the year, by month: 

Fall/Winter = Nov-April
Spring/Summer = May-October



Fall/Winter apparel in stores: August-January
Spring/Summer apparel in stores: February-July


The overlap to enjoy newly bought seasonally-appropriate apparel is about 3 months:

Nov-Jan: Fall/Winter
May-July: Spring/Summer

Sound about right? Now, I just need to accept and appreciate this small window so I can stop having the same complaint every year. I think I'm handling it quite well this time around, compared to my usual rants (although sometimes my annoyance with seasonal limbo can prove somewhat fruitful, as demonstrated here).

Anyone NOT see at least one item they'd like to snuggle up in?

The opportunity to embrace fall is officially here. I've been pulling out my furs and leathers and wearing them shamelessly, even if the day happens to peak out at 70 degrees. The switch to booties, layers, and scarves is apparent in the general populace everywhere, from the functional suburbs to the more conscious city streets.  It's the best time of the year, and it always goes by so darn fast.  Enjoy.

Written by Saba Ali - stylist, writer, and founder of SBD - Image Consulting

Comments? Questions?  Leave below or email us at

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Pinnacle of Covered Girl Couture: Happening Now!

The shift in the past several years is undeniable. Some say it's the lure of handsome payback from the infamously affluent Middle Eastern markets. Others say there was simply no other direction left for fashion to go. Whatever the reason, the change in direction is officially here to stay... for now.

Big wigs like Valentino shifted to demure couture gowns due to all that disposable income up for grabs in conservative global markets (the purchase of the luxury label by Qatari royalty also probably had something to do with it), and several others have made similar changes to their designs. But you know the modesty trend has officially arrived when Karl Lagerfeld, arguably the most influential individual in the fashion world, chose to host his highly anticipated Chanel cruise show in the unexpected locale of Dubai earlier in the month. The event extracted the who's who of fashion out to the Middle East, an elaborate smorsgaboard ranging from A-list Hollywood actresses to Saudi princesses, as well as a healthy range on the modesty scale of locals donning everything from abayas to minis under one roof with zero judgement.  Lagerfeld delivered a collection of covered yet flattering cuts likened to the traditional shalwar kameez of the subcontinent, with his long, flowy tunics and slim pants adorned with much more pomp, print, and bling than the usual classic Chanel designs. 

Who would've guessed this is Chanel?

And as if that weren't enough, Kim Kardashian, reality tv's bombshell notorious for her risque fashion choices as much as for her volatile love life, shocked the world last weekend with her elegant, and for the most part, covered Givenchy gown for her third set of nuptials in Versailles. The dress featured a sky-scraping neckline up to her neck (no decollatege or even a more subtly alluring collarbone in sight!), full sleeves to the wrists, and a floor-length hemline with an unadorned, simple veil. The verdict? Even average Joes on Instagram contended that Kim looked equal parts, if not much, much more beautiful than in her past revealing apparatus. 

Some of the very few public images of their big day. Even Kimye's photo coverage was modest!

 Love her or hate her, her heavy influence in the mainstream fashion and beauty sphere is undeniable

There have been small victories along the journey, paving the way for these big wins for team modesty. Last year, Christian fashion week made history by marketing its controversial wish shrewdly as a dare: "We are looking for designers who want to challenge themselves to create art without the crutch of sexuality. We fully understand that sex sells. But for the everyday woman, sexuality is not the dominant quality she wants to exhibit. She is a force to be reckoned with beyond the visuals of her anatomy. She is fierce and demands attention with her strength, intelligence, and grace. Now, THAT is sexy."

So it's official. Us full-time restrained folks can relax a little bit in our hoarding of maxi's and long tees as if they will disappear from stores tomorrow. Doesn't look like they will be slipping from our grasp anytime soon now that the rest of the world is in our little thing. Hopefully it's a significant matter of time before hemlines start rising and necklines start plunging all across the board once again. Atleast we'll have our closets brimming with full-sleeved goddess dresses and breezily chic palazzo pants to fall back on when this discreet stage in the fashion cycle comes to its inevitable end. 

Nope, not Junaid Jamshed! Those double C's are somewhere on there

Written by Saba Ali of Style by Design - Image Consulting
(Images are not mine. But aren't they great?)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ethical, Sustainable and Up-To-The-Minute: Spotlight on Ishi Vest

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It’s incomparably rare for an individual to merge his passion, family, livelihood, and deep-rooted desire to leave an outright impact on the world, into one neat little package. But United For Service alum Harish I. Patel, founder of Ishi Vest, is not one to simply bank on his good fortune – he takes it all in stride with a healthy dose of gratitude. “Going back to India every summer actually gives me the opportunity to spend quality time with my mother, “ professes the Gujarat-born social entrepreneur whose ambition stems from the avidity to do business with an unusually high standard for materials and process. Noted for starting the company after he was repeatedly catechized about the pragmatic bohemian vest he was sporting after a recent trip to India, Patel is a trendsetter in several senses. Embodying the traits UFS looks to instill in its volunteers from the get go, he has exhibited empathy, leadership, and hands-on problem-solving prowess throughout his life as a Muslim-American with one foot set firmly in his native land. His visits abroad over the years on various service-related expeditions, including Aid to India and United for Service in 2010, planted the seed of action in his mind around the disconcerting issues he grappled with during his travels, most notably that of the tragic farmer suicides. 

“It’s a huge issue in India, “ contends Patel, who was particularly affected after meeting the widows and children of these farmers. “Textile comes from farming, which is heavily reliant on insecticides, pesticides and harsh dyes that are not only harmful for the environment and consumers, but exorbitantly priced for the farmers.” The workers pay for supplies which initially produce a high yield, but then leave them with lower returns, excessive debt, and hazardous health issues, all eventually leading to the staggering number of suicides (a number Patel feels is minimized by the Indian government). Troubled after witnessing this first hand and aware of the demand for his own cotton vest in the States, Patel thought to launch a social venture that could help empower the victims (and those like them) he had met. “I don’t believe in simply handing over money – I’d much rather invest in a way that will keep giving.” Patel, who had once considered a career as a doctor, states, “My work is my identity and I want to be on the right side of things.” And righting wrongs is what he set his mind towards – his Kickstarter campaign has been successful in promoting Ishi Vest as an ethical organization which seeks to level the playing field of labor and safety standards in the industry.

Patel doesn’t claim to know much about fashion, but when pressed about the looks he reveres, the answer is quite telling. “Bold and stately – Nehru, Malcolm X – these men were confident in where they came from yet still looked the part of the sharp leader. They were cultural translators in a sense”. It’s no surprise Ishi’s main product boasts the iconic “Nehru” collar, a term coined by the leader’s signature jackets which were christened as high-fashion chic in the most coveted powerhouses of couture decades ago. “I have a designer in-house to take care of that side of things,” he laughs, referring to the team who helped him fine tune his single introductory product, the men’s vest, as a crucial part of his simple yet potent business model. The women’s version was added to the lineup just a few weeks ago, and he says the brand plans to dip its toes into the lucrative pond of kids wear, all the way down to infant swaddle blankets. 

Patel doesn’t seem to have time for much besides his ingrained commitments, as there are several. Aside from running Ishi Vest with co-founder Jackie Mahendra, he is pursuing a Masters in Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Patel also helped start Chicago Votes, a non-profit dedicated to engaging, educating, and training a young generation of leaders in the political arena. In addition, he works at UIC, helping to develop a department for Diaspora Studies, which will focus on immigration, war, and climate change.

“I don’t want to bring a child into a world with so much messed up in it,” states Patel. With so many noteworthy causes on his resume and plenty more promising projects in the works, his conscience can rest assured that he is doing his part in making that happen. 

Saba Ali is a writer, blogger and the founder of Style By Design – Image Consulting (SBD), a venture specializing in style and fashion consulting, career image consultation, and overall personal design. She has worked with clients from all walks of life, and has been featured in various publications. Find her work on her blogFacebook, and on Instagram 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fashion Week F/W 14: A Breakdown for the Everyday Gal

The stars aligned this year and I made it out to Mercedes Benz Fashion week in New York City. Although I'd been to a few shows several years back as a guest, it's a little different being there as a credentialed attendee. Access to designers' PR, lounging in the infamous vendor-laden tents (although a little dry this year compared to previous ones), and the opportunity to attend show after show and absorb all the different collections was not just physically but mentally overstimulating - in a great way. Add to that being constantly surrounded by celebs (while maintaining a poker face), figuring out what to wear at the height of the Polar Vortex, attempting to document or atleast photograph each moment, remembering to eat..let's just say it was an exhausting week!

My peek at how the shows are executed seamlessly - a model board backstage at Rebecca Minkoff

The Instagram Wall - a constantly changing collage showcasing all pics hashtagged #mbfw

Waiting was worth it :)

My take on the new styles? There was a common theme of added color and texture, more than the typical, repetitive fall/winter collections past. Designers seem to be layering on the notions of colored leather, multiple textures (feather and fur as prime examples at Nicole Miller) and techni-hues by combining several of these concepts into one, wearable outfit.

A plethora of fall colors, prints, furs, and embossed leather at Nicole Miller - the designer who once showcased her work on Linda, Christy, and Naomi (aka the Big Three). Spotted: Daisy Fuentes, Carrie Preston, Rachael Harris, Olivia Culpo, the Lohans

In the ridiculously fast-paced world of fashion, what was once considered too high-brow or out-there for the average woman to wear in real, everyday life is morphing into the mainstream lineup faster than ever.

These once over-the-top notions of exaggerated menswear, boxy shapes, multi-color leather and fur, futuristic fabrics and silhouettes, all open the door to trying a bit of it all on a smaller scale in real life without looking like a runway caricature.

Up-and-coming Russian designer Katya Leonovich showcases strength in tailoring with these futuristic designs - the movement of which were striking in person. (Not a great collection to take on in real life - these looks are definitely best left to the runway!)

More color, print, and fur at Saunder

 Leather, fur, accordian pleats, and bling at a more approachable Pamella Roland - a visually stunning collection said to be inspired by the architecture of New York city. Front row faves: Nigel Barker, Miss J Alexander, Michelle Hicks, Lydia Hearst

Not a fan of Dennis Basso's theatrical designs, I enjoyed being in close proximity to his front row lineup much more - Olivia Palermo, Debra Messing, Carol Alt, Mary J. Blige, and Andre Leon Talley 

Just a few of Basso's front row guests

So if you are often intimidated by what you see on the runway - this is for you.  If you never thought you could do fur - try a small, neutral touch in camel or the always safe-yet-chic black. If you were afraid to mix prints or textures- try it out on a less sensational level by using a smaller scale and a neutral color pallette.  Afraid of volume? Get over it! :) Every single collection boasted something or other in a boxy cut, menswear inspired or otherwise. The trend is here to stay.

Alexander Wang - need I say more?

Always remember, the eye gets accustomed to the new and the bold. Keep moving forward in an attempt to stay modern and current. In an age of democratic, fast fashion, where new styles are now accessible to anyone and everyone vs. only those in fashion's main capitals - take advantage of living in an era where you have the current and coveted at your fingertips!

Soo Joo opened for Rebecca Minkoff donning a boxy coat, buttery leather, fur details, subtle print, and a wee splash of color while looking perfectly effortless and on trend - not over the top!  This picture exemplifies my point beautifully: don't be scared to pile on different textures and trends! When done correctly, it can yield great results!

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