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the shoot

The complete ensemble

High style, low budget: the makings of a killer wardrobe on a shoestring

By Fareeha Qayoom

(Ghost-writing for Saima Zaidi, the model in the story; Photos, make-up, and styling by Fareeha Qayoom)


he challenge? To build one complete outfit in a limited budget!

the shoot

The complete ensemble

12:00 noon – start at Generation boutique. Everything is above our budget. The editor is adamant that she will not increase the budget no matter what. God, I am supposed to put together a trendy outfit and the money is tight! Besides, she won’t let me buy fabric and get it stitched. It has to be prêt a porter! Why me? Sigh.

12:30 afternoon – start at liberty market. Decide to be methodical. There are dresses and there are dresses. Nothing looks good at the price I want.

12:45 – take the plunge and try on three dresses. The price range 650 bucks. Yeah, yeah – who’s bright idea was it anyway? I look like a reject from Salvation Army jumble sale! The fit is shocking! I can’t try on the shalwar! No elastic. We move on to another boutique. And then, another one and then another one. Why am I looking for an eastern outfit anyway? At this rate, the whole day will be gone and I won’t have anything to show for it.

Its 3:00 p.m. already. Let’s do lunch. I am hungry. We sit down and eat. Consult each other and decide to try our luck at the main boulevard malls. First Chen one…

4:00 p.m. park the car at Chen one. The parking guys are bloody thieves. Sorry, excuse my language. They charge 20 bucks for one hour parking…luckily I am being bank rolled by the magazine. Well, Chen one! The clothes are very nice. Ok, I see this really nice outfit in black and white – sleeveless top, white shalwar and nice tie and dye dupatta. I try it on…hmmm, the shalwar doesn’t look all that good with this shirt. PKR 850. oh! Oh! They are selling separates too. I see this very nice boot cut trouser that I can team up with a nice top! Price PKR 450. Well, things are looking up. Let’s go to Pace…hmmm, I consult my watch – its after 5:00 p.m.. three floors up and down and nothing to show for it. We have been trying to bargain but nobody will budge an inch from their price!!! Who are they kidding? You can buy a whole suit for PKR 650 and here we are talking about one measly top! Well, my friend spots this cool shirt. It’s for PKR 400 rupees. We bring the guy down to PKR 300 and we have a deal. Finally! We quickly run back to Chen one. Try on both trousers – black and white….hmmm, the rise is kind of weird on this trouser, doesn’t team well with the top – my brilliant idea is a flop! My friend suggests that we go to Panorama for the pant.

5:30 – Panorama. Major bummer. Nothing looks good. The jeans here are really expensive. Most sales guys are trying to sell men’s 501 Levi’s as women’s jeans. They think I don’t know what I am talking about?! I work for an American store! I want to kill the genius who suggested we try Panorama.

Well, back to Pace. I am tired. My editor is tired. And my ex-friend is bored…we try the cargo pants, we try the Khaki chino. God, nothing seems to work. They are charging PKR 700-900 for a khaki pant…our best bet is to buy a nice pair of jeans!

7:00 p.m. We are on the third floor. My feet ache. My head aches. I am bored and frustrated and my editor looks ready to kill me and herself…after trying on about 10 pairs of jeans, ok, we finally bid on one—it looks ok. It’s not a brilliant look but who the heck cares at this point? The rise should be lower. Oh well, it takes a while for Pakistan to catch on (fashion trends). The guy starts at PKR 650. We tell him, we will buy the pant but only at PKR 400 and that’s it. The guy agrees. God, finally! Now we have to do the accessories! We decide to drop by at the café first…I want some tea and I want it now!!! Yikes! Its 8:30 already. My mom will kill me.

We decide to call it a day. Set another appointment for Thursday. Need to put together the accessories and do the photo-shoot next.

Thursday 1:00 p.m.—good news—my editor has increased the budget! Thank God for small mercies. Finally, the whole outfit is ready. The shoes cost PKR 700, the bag costs 600, the jewelry costs PKR 100 and the belt costs PKR 400. Grand Total PKR 2500. Yeah! I did it. Not a penny wasted. Give me five. ■

Generation boutique

12:00 Noon - start at the Generation Boutique,Gulburg

Inside Generation

Inside Generation boutique - everything is above our budget

Liberty Boutique

12:30 at the Liberty Mall

try a few dresses

12:45 - take a plunge and try dress one, only the top and the stole

try dress two

Try Dress two - only the top and stole

try dress 3

Try Dress three - this time the whole ensemble

inside Chen One

Inside Chen One - Main Boulevard

Try on a dress at Chen one

Try on a shalwar suit at Chen One

We spot a nice top at pace

We spot a nice top at the Pace Mall

go back to chen one

Go back to Chen One for the flared trouser! Bummer - no good!


5:30 pm - At the Panorama Mall - major bummer! They don't have women's Levi's!

back at pace

7:00 pm - Back at Pace, third floor - Looking for a pair of low-rise Jeans but they don't have it, well, I am tired so we buy the pair that fits!

getting ready for the shoot

Getting ready for the shoot

try a pose

Testing! Testing!

another pose


another pose 2

Say Cheese!


Having a bit of fun!


another pose

Well, another pose!


This article was originally published in the print edition of “The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review,” (Tkfr), issue 12, October 2005

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.

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