Stunning results of my shopping “fiasco” in Istanbul

A fun story of how my plans for shopping in Istanbul got a completely unexpected direction.

oriental fashion shopping in istanbul

Stunning results of my shopping “fiasco” in Istanbul

Once I got a chance to visit Istanbul with the purpose of studying dance, but I've decided to combine it with another official goal: shopping! No need to say how excited I was about that trip. I knew that all my favourite stores in Kiev (where I’m originally from) were importing clothes from various Istanbul shops, and usually I didn’t have any problems with finding good clothes for me. But how much more fun it would be to shop right in the city where they were produced! I've booked a hotel right in the middle of the shopping district, and counted the days till the trip.

The first morning in Istanbul started with scouting around, and seeing potential shops to check out on my way back from dance class. And here was a surprise. At first, I was really impressed with the prices advertised on shops windows: $8, $10, $12. Nothing more than $15 per piece. It was unusual but encouraging, until I decided to drop in to one of those stores. I liked one dress, and asked the seller if I could try it on, but he told that there was no fitting room in the store. Moreover, he would not sell me just one dress! If I wanted to buy it, I would have to purchase 5 to 8 pieces of the same dress all in different sizes, and then chose which one would fit me. The story repeated itself in the next store. Only then I realized: none of those stores were selling retail! They were designed for wholesalers who would import those products to their countries, including Ukraine.

I tried to check big shopping malls as well. I was told that locals usually buy their clothes there. But the problem was that none of those stores hosted small local manufacturers, only well-known international brands, which you can find in most countries.  I guess it’s common everywhere: the most difficult thing is to find good locally manufactured clothes. Somehow these stores are just hidden behind big international brands, and basically to find them one really needs to know where to go. I was too naïve thinking that just by going to most famous shopping area, I would find what I was looking for. In fact, I specifically researched where my favourite Ukrainian stores imported clothes from. However, the thought of differences in retail and wholesale trade didn’t cross my mind.

No need to say how disappointed I was. To come all the way to Istanbul to realize that it might be possibly easier to buy desired Turkish clothes in your country was funny and sad at the same time. However, my disappointment lasted only until I visited the Istanbul Grand Bazaar! It was like a dream world. My eyes were mesmerized by all colourful souvenirs, pottery, fabrics, sweets, spices, and, of course, traditional Turkish outfits and jewellery… I ended up buying EIGHT new Turkish style outfits (mostly galabeya style), totally unplanned and without any specific vision of what I was going to do with them.  Well, at the moment of purchasing I was telling myself that it was for my dance purposes (although those costumes didn’t fit any dance styles that I was performing at that time). I just couldn't let them pass by.

My love of oriental inspired dresses spoke louder than my mind! Of course, it’s partially related to the fact that I am a belly dancer, but at the same time I like the elements of Middle-Eastern culture not only on stage. I would love to be able to wear those richly embellished, flowy and colourful dresses in every day life. Sometimes I regret that casual Western fashion of 21st century tents more towards practicality rather than beauty, but no criticism. It’s just my preference ☺

With that said, I also should admit that a few of the dresses I bought later did find their non-dance life in my closet. Even today they remain as some of my favourite outfits, and I'm always looking forward to the next excuse to wear them. So enjoy a little inspirational photo journey through the result of my shopping «fiasco» in Istanbul! 

On photos above:

Dress: from Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Flower headpiece: Wire Princess
Earrings: Lavishy Boutique
Necklace: Lavishy Boutique

On photos above:

Dress and shoes: from Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Ring: custom-made Persian ring
Lipstick: O Boticario, Make B

On photos above:

Dress and shoes: from Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Sunglasses: Roberto Cavalli
Lipstick:  Satin Bright Orange by Make Up For Ever

If you enjoyed this blog post, don't forget to like and share :)

Author and model: Iana Komarnytska

Photographer: Pedro Bonatto


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