So, I’m Going to India

dianatajmahal

This year, I’m spending the holidays halfway around the world — specifically, I’ll be trekking to Mumbai, Dehli, Agra and Bangalore.

The word “excited” seems trite when compared with my true emotions as I prepare for the trip. I’ll be traveling with my husband and in-laws, and I feel so incredibly lucky (and yes, #blessed) to share such a life changing experience with people I love.

Needless to say, I’ve ben prepping my packing list for WEEKS.

On my last major international trip to Morocco in 2014, I storyboarded all my outfits beforehand. However, that trip was just a measly 10 days. I’ll be in India for 3 weeks, which is basically the World Series of packing prowess. (Any longer, and I’d basically be moving there.)

Whenever I travel to far-flung places, I like to reference my location without veering into costume territory. So, I started researching how my personal idols dressed when they visited India.

Like Oprah.

Oprah in India
Oprah in India

For Oprah’s first trip to India, she packed a mix of traditional formalwear (like the sari in the photo above), as well as plenty of scarves. (I especially love the sheer top she wore under the sari — very chic in Desi fashion.)

Princess Diana at the Taj Mahal in XXXX
Princess Diana at the Taj Mahal in 1992

When Princess Diana visited the Taj Mahal in 1992, she posed alone — a potent symbol of her disintegrating marriage.

Diana was always a master of conveying messages without speaking a word — and this outfit is a nod of respect to the saturated palette of India. While I hope I won’t need to pack a pair of hosiery in my suitcase, this was a good reminder to bust out of my neutrals and rock the rainbow while I can.

(This rainbow-soaked fashion philosophy was summed up nicely by a different Diana — Vreeland, to be exact — who once called hot pink “the navy of India.” Duly noted.)

I also looked closely at celebrities and designers who pay homage to India.

MIA was another fashion inspiration.
MIA was another fashion inspiration.

The entertainer MIA, who is from Sri Lanka, has often incorporated crystal bindis into her repertoire. (This is a beauty look I’ll admit to attempting back in the 90s when Gwen Stefani rocked it.)

I’ve also been studying fashion that draws inspiration from Indian culture. MIA’s 2008 clothing collection, which was sold at Opening Ceremony, is one such example. Another more subdued example is Trademark’s spring 2015 lookbook.

trademark-burch-new-york-fashion-week-2015-spring-summer-womens-india-long-coat-ribbon-sash-waist-sandals-shirtdress-plaid-scarf-midi-skirt-stripes-02x
Trademark’s Southeast Asia-inspired lookbook from spring.

I looked at every item of clothing currently being sold by Stella Jean, a Haitian-Italian designer who often uses Indian fabrics in her collections, like this pencil skirt:

stellajean
A pencil skirt from Stella Jean, on sale for $383

The skirt, while made in Italy, was embroidered with a traditional Indian pattern. I can only hope I find a less expensive version in India. This skirt costs $383 — and that’s the clearance price.

In addition to drooling over clothes I can’t afford, I’ve also been trolling several Indian fashion blogs. (Here’s Vogue’s list of some of the most notable ones.)

The woman who writes the fashion blog Razzle Dazzle Pickle
The woman who writes the fashion blog Razzle Dazzle Pickle

The photos and clothes on the Indian blogs have been ethereal, dreamy and eclectic — with most outfits resembling a collision of West-meets-East trends. The denim blouse above is paired with an elaborate head wrap.

These minimalist dresses were spiked with simple accessories that packed a major punch:

The women behind the Indian fashion blog Love and Other Bugs
The women behind the Indian fashion blog Love and Other Bugs

And this colorful outfit is a delectable bowl of fashion sherbet:

The blogger behind Style Fiesta
The blogger behind Style Fiesta

As excited as I am to play dress-up in an exciting new place, I am mostly grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture — and to learn, even in uncomfortable or jarring situations. Moreover, I am honored that my husband’s wonderful parents will be ushering me and my husband through the journey. (Best tour guides ever!)

One last shout out to my awesome in-laws — earlier this week, you may have noticed that the Google doodle was a yogi. That’s my hubby’s great uncle, the legendary yogi BKS Iyengar. Monday would have been his 97th birthday — you can read more about him here, here and here.

On Monday, it Google celebrated what would have been the 97th birthday of master yogi BKS Iyengar (my husband's great uncle)
On Monday, Google commemorated the 97th birthday of BKS Iyengar (a masterful yogi and my husband’s great uncle)

PS: I’ll be blogging throughout the trip, so keep checking back. Yes, I’ll be talking about the clothes — but also food, yoga studios and even the exercise scene. You can follow the Instagram adventures here or by searching for the hashtag #TSPofIndia.