Karachista: 10 great holiday shopping ideas

Off overseas? Keep space in your luggage for these goodies.

Salima Feerasta June 23, 2013
If you are off on your holidays, here are the top 10 things that should be on your shopping list. PHOTO: FILE


One of the disadvantages of living in a third world country is that good quality, ordinary, everyday items can be incredibly hard to find. You could pick up a great bucket and mop from Wal-mart for next to nothing; you’d have to pay more than double for something approaching the same level of quality here in Pakistan. And this is why there was a time when people lugged everything from duvets to batteries from abroad. However, in recent years, a much wider variety of high quality items have become available in Pakistan.

Al-Fatah in Lahore, Agha’s in Karachi and Jinnah Supermarket in Islamabad are unmatched in terms of imported groceries, make-up and other essentials while international chains like Mango, Next and Accessorize are bringing the high street to Pakistan. There are still, however, some things worth making space in your luggage for. If you are off on your holidays, here are the top 10 things that should be on your shopping list:

1.   Bare Minerals Foundation — worn with primer, it’s the perfect foundation for our tropical climate. It is light, yet gives good coverage while managing to look natural. As with all foundations, do take the time to work out which is the perfect colour for your skin-tone — the wrong colour foundation will kill even the prettiest face.

2.   Lingerie — great lingerie is incredibly hard to find here in Pakistan. Voluminous clothes mean we don’t need to worry about VPLs but the right lingerie can change the shape of an outfit and smooth out the little bumps and bulges we all have. Indispensable.

3.   A GHD straightener — forget Babybliss and those other brands in the market. Our frizz friendly climate means hair needs extra help and the GHD straightener is perfect for a salon style finish when you can’t make it to the salon. Quick and easy — use it once and you’ll realise why other straighteners are simply not in the same league.

4.   A great pair of designer heels — yes, we have some great shoe shops in Pakistan, but if you want designer shoes you can expect to pay extremely hefty prices. While you are overseas, you should be able to snag a pair at a sale or outlet for at least 30% less. If your budget doesn’t stretch to designer shoes, Zara, Massimo Dutti and Topshop do some great shoes that ape designer shoe trends.

5.   Ballet pumps — Tory Burch pumps are having a moment among Pakistan’s jet-set but there are plenty of other options. Tod’s do some great loafers and ballet pumps while some fabulous options are available are Jimmy Choo and Ferragamo. Catch the sales and you could score a pair for not a lot more than the price of a Menahel Mehreen semi-formal outfit. And the pumps will lift a host of different outfits — so they’re practically an investment!

6.   Batiste Dry Shampoo — occasionally available at Agha’s, it’s worth having your own stash for when you really can’t manage to wash your hair. Spray, massage and brush out for hair that looks and smells fresh.

7.   Artificial flowers — the only artificial flowers available in Pakistan are the plastic-looking cheap kind. Chen One does some decent artificial plants but you can get wonderful silk flowers abroad that look so real that you have to touch them to be sure they’re not. Try Sia or The One in Dubai for an amazing selection.

8.   Home accents — although Renaissance has recently made it much easier to find decent home accents here in Pakistan, it’s always worth looking around for decorative pieces when you’re travelling. Vases, frames, wall hangings — the possibilities are endless. The added advantage is that objects around your home will remind you of your various trips.

9.   Costume jewellery — Between Sunday bazaar, Accessorize, SanaSafinaz and Saddar, you can find a host of costume jewellery here in Karachi but it’s worth checking out high street offerings by the likes of Zara and Topshop as well as street markets abroad for the odd exceptional piece.

10. Tech gadgets — pick up the latest electronic items from abroad and you’re sure to save yourself a pretty penny. Whether you’re looking for a Wii U, a kindle or the latest video baby monitor, you are bound to find a better selection and cheaper prices abroad than you would here in Pakistan.

This is of course, far from a comprehensive list. Everyone has their own personal favourites that they stock up on when going overseas. What’s in your top 10?

Oxford-grad Salima Feerasta is a social commentator and lover of style in any form or fashion. She blogs at karachista.blogspot.com and tweets @karachista.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.

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Salima Feerasta | 10 years ago | Reply

@munz: I agree with you about travel being about experiencing new cultures and expanding the mind but that doesn't mean you can't make time for some retail therapy too ;)

Salima Feerasta | 10 years ago | Reply

@m.: I was trying to point out that it's ironic that we can't even easily get Wal-mart quality here - and what's wrong with Wal-mart for a bucket and mop? surely you don't need a high-end shop for something so basic?

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