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Prints charming

By Sabrina F Ahmad

If there is one thing we learned from all the runway shows for Fall/Winter 2011, it is that prints rule, and the rule about not mixing prints has been well and truly broken. While we are really digging this bold step, pulling off mixed prints is tricky business indeed, because it's so easy to get it wrong. It's best to experiment and see what works for you. That being said, mixed up, or worn solo or with solids, prints are in, and we're taking a look at our favourite ones for the current season.

Mad angles
Geometric prints abound, whether we're talking Mondrian squares in the uber-trendy mod dresses that are enjoying a retro revival, or a modern take in Rodarte's granny knits given a new twist, or even the Prohibition-chic pinstripes in men's suits. Stripes, curves, dots, squares, you name it, geometry is back in a big way. We're also seeing an emphasis on tribal influences in some of the designs, which goes well with the jewellery trends, but that is a topic for further discussion in a future

Animal instinct
Leopard printed booties and headbands, zebra skirts, even Dalmatian dots on flirty chiffon blouses, fashion's gone zoological in its inspirations. You'll find them especially on the long, flowing maxi dresses that are sticking around for a bit after enjoying immense popularity in summer.

Leopard and cow prints might be timeless winners; however the biggest rage in animal prints and textures this season, is snakeskin. We're talking snakeskin shoes and bags of course, but also pants and jackets in bold, dynamic Fall colours all gone scaly, scary stylish. Pair one of these pants with a pastel shirt and jacket, and you've got a lock on casual smart.

Flowers of the Fall
The blossoms of spring and summer don't show any signs of withering this year. We're guessing the rising Asian influence on international runways has a lot to do with this. Whatever the reason, from printed trousers to billowing blouses, to quirky socks, there's a veritable garden waiting to jump into your wardrobe.

The cool thing about this is that your summer florals need not be stowed away. Throw on a long cardigan in a neutral colour, and let the prints do the rest. Shorter dresses can always be teamed with tights to turn into fusion shalwar kameez sets.

Florals aren't even a woman's prerogative, as Kenzo's Fall collection proved. What this basically means is that we can hope to see a lot more paisleys and floral prints and embellishments in menswear. If the whole flowery suit outfit seems a bit much, you can throw an embroidered Kashmiri shawl over a monochrome ensemble, and you're ready to roll.

Checking in
Unless you've been living under a rock, you must have noticed the chequered prints in stores all over the world. While home brands like Yellow and of course Grameen have been promoting this print for ages now, the international market has not been idle either.

H&M, in particular, has been pushing this look pretty hard, with a lot of success. In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that the check print is the ruling pattern for casual wear for both sexes.

Checks go in three directions for the colder months. While the afternoons are still warm, you turn to gingham in soft pastels. Gingham works best for daytime wear, and the current trend for girly frocks is perhaps the best foil for the pattern. It's also a nice subtle print for men's linen shirts.

As the wind starts to get nippy, you turn to plaid, which worked well for shirts through the warmer months, and have crept southwards to conquer trousers and slacks as well. The look is very preppy. Ditto for empire-waisted plaid tunics with billowy sleeves, when worn with tights and a scarf. For even colder weather, plaid makes for great sports coats, jackets, trenches and pea-coats.

Tartan is another, slightly less popular alternative to plaid, and has been more successful as accents to otherwise neutral pieces.

With so many cool prints to choose from, here's wishing you a season filled with experimentation and variety.

By Bossa Nova
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Isha
Wardrobe: Ectasy


Goody goody

Birthday parties have become more elaborate affairs these days. A trend going around in such parties these days is presenting guests with small bags with gifts in them, generally referred to as goody bags.

Now, if you're throwing a birthday party for yourself, or for someone else, deciding what gifts to include in the gift bag may be confusing. Don't fuss, we are here to help.

Toddlers: If the birthday party is for your own baby or a relative's, chances are that the host is the one inviting his or her own friends and family, as the celebrity is not old enough to have made friends yet. Although it would make sense to include gifts meant for young children, some guests are likely to find little or no use for them. Hence, it would be wiser to include gifts that they can use. An age-appropriate book for the children attending can be a good idea. You could also include simple toys that toddlers play with the small Hot Wheels cars or dolls, stuffed toys, cartoon character figurines are some fun items to include in the bag. Just to strike a balance, a small accessory for the adults, such as earrings, could be included.

5-year-olds: By this time, the birthday boy or girl is likely to have made some friends who will be attending the party so the goody bag preparation will need to be based on their preferences. 5-year-olds generally love to colour, so a small crayon set accompanied by a colouring book will surely make them happy. Sticker pads, glitter pens, hair accessories generally fit the bill. Yet, the most important item has to be a chocolate bar or a few assorted candies. If you want to be even more creative, it would be delightful for each young guest to receive a Kinder Surprise Egg (chocolate egg with small toys inside) in their goody bag.

10-year-olds: This lot are very conscious about their social lives by now, so their goody bags need to be well-planned. In this case, it might not be a good idea to give the same bags for both genders, so although it will be more time consuming, different bags for girls and boys is a better decision. The bags for girls can have lip gloss, a small pocket diary, a bracelet or a hair accessory, cute fluffy key ring, or even a small notebook with the cover having Taylor Swift or any other favourite personality or cartoon character of their choice. For the boys, how about a notepad with the coolest car or cartoon like Ben 10 on the cover and a small pack of Lays, Cheetos or Doritos, Bey blades. Children this age are more likely to be sporty -- why not a small poster of their favourite football team, a Frisbee or a cricket ball? But then again, stationery and school supplies like water bottles are a safe choice.

Teenagers: The birthday boy or girl is more likely to have a say about what goes into their goody bags by now. It would be best to have a talk with the teenager, deciding what they would like to be included in the bags. But in case you want to take the step yourself, here are some of our tips for the trade. The best choice would be to include a CD with all the latest hits like the Billboard's compilation, nail polish, accessories like earrings, candles and maybe even some make-up or a sport magazine from ESPN, a souvenir from their favourite football teams, deodorants and or maybe a DVD. Simple, smaller gifts can include key chains, photo frames and maybe even candy.

Adults: When you've grown out of your teenage years, you may decide you are too old for goody bags or even birthday parties for that matter and choose to go out with family and friends instead. But, just for the fun of it, you may want to throw a party and include gift bags in them. By now, as you're most probably earning, keeping the expenses to a minimum may not be a factor, so jewellery, perfume, and wallets are always clever choices. To be a little more traditional, small household items brought from Aarong or other similar shops can be thoughtful. If your birthday falls during winter, adding the unisex shawls can also be a very unique decision. For it to be more personal, you can add your own notes for the guests with a photograph of the two of you, so that some good memories are brought back to be accompanied with stories to be shared in the party.

Although all of this may seem a hassle, when the proper time and energy is given towards it, it may well prove to be a lot of fun.

By Nikita Sarker


All work and some play

Throwing a great office party

Office parties are a great way to unwind in the workplace, which can be a very stressful environment. Parties can range from quiet tea-break get-togethers to large social dinners, depending on the occasion as well as the office culture and number of people. Having the occasional party at the office gives colleagues a chance to socialise, which can lead to better communication during work as well.

Birthdays are usually celebrated in offices with a small number of staff. If you're in the organising committee or someone who wants to take an initiative, try not to bring in too many banners, balloons, crazy designed cakes and other over-the-top ideas. Any party in the office should always be simple and low-key.

“We usually send a nice bouquet to our colleague's house on their birthday,” says Shams, who is a manager at a corporate office. “But on occasions such as a new colleague's first birthday in a new post, or a director's special birthday, like a 50th birthday, we try to arrange something during the morning tea break.”

The “something” can be a cake and finger food. Keep in mind the size of the office when deciding what cake and food to order. Decoration-wise, some flowers in a vase or bouquet setting and a card with everyone's signature will do. It's true that the main element of any successful party is the food, so instead of investing in a huge cake, variation can be brought in the finger food if one has a good budget and knows what to order. In more informal offices, some colleagues may also choose to bring in dishes from home. “I work in a small research institute and there are very few of us in the office, so we make quite a few arrangements for birthday parties at work,” says Mrs Kabir. “We get small presents, order food from somewhere and spend quite some time chatting and eating. Of course, ours is quite a relaxed office so I can't imagine this happening in a lot of places.”

When someone who's been part of an office for a long time decides to resign or retire, it can be a big change for the office. They would really appreciate it if a going away party is arranged for them. To make it memorable, having a going-away lunch in the office can ensure that everyone gets to participate and the person will leave with good memories. Sometimes companies provide a going-away present, and sometimes colleagues might buy something nice by contributing money to a fund. A nice speech about the person could also be prepared.

Some offices also have Christmas parties, or a party just to acknowledge the hard work everyone puts in after, for example, a major audit. Some parties are bigger and more significant than others and it's important to remember the significance. The boss might not be too happy if a simple treat for the hard work put in by everyone drags on for too long and no one gets any work done on that day. On the other hand, if employees expect a certain party to be nicely arranged, it might be disappointing to them if it does not meet their expectations.

If you are thinking of getting a present, the easiest bet would be to get a tasteful decorative item, unless you know your colleague well and think there is something else that they really need. Some offices decide on a group of people who are in charge of organising these events; if not, ask around if anyone else is willing to take the initiative with you. The timing of the party is also important, as it cannot be at a very busy time of the day or during a time of year when everyone in the office is hard at work meeting a deadline.

Your job takes up most of your day and therefore most of your life. You see the people at work more often than your friends and family. It's an inevitable fact of life that your job is most likely your life as soon as you get your appointment letter, so the occasional respite at work is important for the well-being of all employees and can brighten up a day at work, even if it's only for a little bit.

By Mehreen Aziz


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