I love clothes. I give this undue importance for an individual’s dress sense which some may consider to be unnecessary. The idea of being up to date on fashion, wear good clothes and look good all the time didn’t come out of choice but was a habit nurtured and cultivated.
Mom grew up with a lot of Indian pop culture influences. She, being a good dresser, is always up to date on the latest fashion fundae. Fashion used to be very subjective and still is. For most belonging to the middle class and upper middle class society in India, fashion meant the latest from the Indian film industry. So, the legacy carried on. Mom often used to look at the latest Yash Raj movie or any of the then current hits and say, “I am buying you that for next Diwali”, “I am buying you this for the birthday”. I grew up from saying, “Ok fine” to demanding, “Ok, I am going to get that next Diwali”. It is a very simple example of how influential an upbringing can be.
Fashion, sadly and arguably, starts and ends with movies in our country. It is not seen as something that suits you best and something you feel most comfortable in. I digress to a totally different topic altogether. It was still cool, for a boy of fourteen, to see “Wardrobe: Options” or “Wardrobe: Boy London” on the bottom of the screen on Channel V just before the VJ says goodbye. The eyes lit up on realizing that the clothes he wore during Diwali were from that same shop in Juhu. But it was no less trendy to walk around with those printed T-shirts from Fashion Street. After all, the city was Bombay.
It was not all western. Mom and my aunt, time and again, stress on the elegance of the veshti(dhoti). They often talk about how a shirt and veshti could, as a matter of fact, be sexy. The amazing world of movies came to their aid once again. The sight of Madhavan and Jyothika in Dum Dum Dum, clad in trademark engagement attire of veshti and saree, both made of silk, struck in their minds. It was an epitome of beauty to witness two good looking people clad in traditional attire in a complete natural setting. I did carry my one and only silk veshti all the way to the US.
So where did it all start? Mom has her reasons. She has a regret somewhere in her heart that she has two sons but not a daughter. She often used to tell my friends and young girls she knew, how she wished she had a girl. Why? So that she could dress her well and make people go awe. She never missed a well dressed woman whenever we strolled through Lokhandwala Complex. She loves the tank tops, the short kurtas, the silhouette tops and the works. She admonishes women of her age who never let their daughters experiment with clothes. The farthest thing my mom and I could do for my cousin when she was 15, was getting her a top that had “HOT” printed in bold sparkles. It was an inexpensive one that was a rage in Bombay after Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta endorsed it in some movie. We never saw it again.
Certainly, dressing up and looking good is a trait often condemned and termed waste of time. Some even misconstrue the attitude coupling it with a very negative take on metrosexuality. Luckily, the parenting I experienced(and continue to do so) had temperaments opposite to that of such naysayers. It established the fact that looking good is not natural, but an art.