3 Wardrobe Essentials For Every Desi Girl

3 Wardrobe Essentials For Every Desi Girl

Sidra, style & beauty intern, has such incredible picks up this week, I LOVE THEM ALL. Special shoutout to the glass bangles she talks about, which by-the-way I’ve bought in three colors already since choti eid because I also want them to make an aggressive comeback. Hope you enjoy, because I totally did. 
Hand-me-downs are an undeniable part of our desi culture. As young girls we raid our mothers’, aunts’, grandmothers’ dressers and find treasures from their youth, cast aside, to play dress-up with. If we’re very lucky, they survive so we can adorn them in our own youth and complete the circle of love attached to it. And if we’re the luckiest person ever, our child will find it in our dresser and will want to wear it too, someday.
These timeless pieces of art never lose value, they don’t go out of fashion and most importantly, they impart to you a touch of style that nobody else can flaunt. This connection to your roots gives you a distinct look that sets you apart and gets you compliments (if you’re into that kinda thing).
These are my top 3 wardrobe essentials coming straight down from the ancestors that every chick should have in her arsenal (if you want to go broader, here are the must-have accessories of 2016 as well). Everyone, as a rule, should have pieces in their wardrobe, that are ethically, ethnically sourced from authentic places and are kept and worn with great care and pride, that are handed down to generations to raise awareness of local crafts and appreciation of their roots.
The best thing about jewelry is the instant effect it injects into your look. A pair of earrings elevate a standard look to something less standard, more stylish. The other best thing about jewelry is that every region has its own specific style, so reflecting your roots and representing is fairly idiot-proof. The key to buying authentic regional jewelry is looking for that ‘made in china’ tag. If you see it, throw it back in the face of the dukaandaar. That should either get u a discount or have you thrown out of the shop. Either way it’s an adventure.
Authentic jewelry, in my experience, costs quite a bit. But think of it as an investment. It will definitely last you a lifetime and the never-going-out-of-fashion bit is always a plus. I personally own an arsenal of jhumkas because I have a problem. I love, love, love, afghani jewelry and their use of stones. Jewelry from central Punjab with their kundan and pearls. Jewelry from Pakhtunkhwa with colorful beads, mirrors and coins. The list is as long as the last five minutes of a roza.
Choorian again, are a dying industry because nobody wants to wear them anymore, for some insane unexplainable lapse in judgement. They are one of the most beautiful things to come out of the subcontinent and they are so ignored it’s a crime.
We all have these dupattas we nicked from our mothers’ closets and pretended to be a mama so dupattas and us go way back.  Chunri dupattas make a beautiful accessory  with white or plain colored kurtas in summers. White on white embroidered dupattas I believe are a wardrobe staple and everyone neeeeds to have one. I don’t have one but Mama-Raja has three so that works. Bright colorful dupattas with embroidery also look incredible with plain kurtas. And my favorite thing ever is shawls. My mother in law has amazing taste. She gave me a bunch of beautiful Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls in my Bari instead of endless fancy suits (she gave me those too) and I am obsessed. These, again, cost an arm and a leg and authentic shawls are super hard to come across, but… they make the best accessory to your outfit in winter weddings; To jeans and tee-shirts on chilly nights in hill stations, to kurtas for men or for women. They are understated elegance objectified. Y’all need one, or five.
We are home to the world’s best quality leather and the world’s best craftsmanship (scientifically proven). Combined, it gives you such amazing pieces of art that you want to wear them every day and also, not wear them ever because they’re too beautiful to be touching the ground. I.Am.Obsessed. Khussa, Kohlapuri, Kheri (Balouchi and Charsadda), Peshawari chappal, Salim-shahi (khussa with a curled toe) each of these is a marvel of design that took generations and decades to perfect. You will never find anything more comfortable. Your money will circulate locally helping local artisans make more art. You will look stylish AF. Your feet will never stink. If there was ever a win-win situation, it’s this one. Again, do your research and look for locals.  Make sure its’ proper handmade and not a product of a capitalist venture.
These need to be worn with love if they’re meant to last. Don’t wear them roughly and everyday, Don’t wear them in wet and muddy situations (store in a well-ventilated area because naturally leather can get moldy, and if that happens just wipe with a wet cloth and let it dry in shade, never direct sunlight, bad personal experience, keeps me up some nights). Balouchi kheri weighs as much as a 4 year old child and is very, very boss, as balouchis are. All these are unisex so force your boys to wear them for you for Jummas, Eids and Shadis. Choose them for you own weddings and cherish them for life. Teach your babies to value them so we may have them around forever and ever.
That is all.
Sidra Raja-Shah is an authority on almost anything you can think of. Her superpowers include an ultra-super-keen- sense of observation and eating a big bag of Doritos all on her own. You can catch her rambling @therajalife on Instagram or on her blog http://www.therajalife.com/. To read more about Sidra, check out the meet the interns post.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
+ You can check out the afghani jewelery I wore on Eid this year here.
+ + Just a tiny snippet of chooris here, more coming soon since my fascination is increasing.
+ + + If you don’t want to step out, you can buy Afghani jewelery online in Pakistan at this page.
+ + + + Some phulkari dupatta action from me.
+ + + + + There’s a giveaway open for a 3-night stay in Sotto Le Cummerse, a hotel in Italy, and if you haven’t entered, here’s your chance.


  1. I love all the picks!

  2. omg desi aesthetic on fleek 😀 i have been planning some purchases from rangchamkay or good ol zainab market for a while now so now I have more motivation to go shopping 😀

  3. Loved the post. Indeed the footwear and jewellery is a must

Comments are closed.