life · Myself

The Art of Wear

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.


29 thoughts on “The Art of Wear

  1. See you are confusing between looking good and wearing fashionable clothes.

    You can look good wearing clothes that were worn by your dad. But, you can’t be fashionable.

    Actually my mother also wanted a daughte it seems. In any case she is on this jewel buying spree for my future wife.


    P.S. Am I not clever? Now I am sure I am going to be flooded with proposals to get hooked.

    Adi: Very clever! You are done in! Do send invitation! :P


  2. I’m going to take a little walk down memory lane. My biographers, when they get around to piecing together my early life, will find people remembering me as having the fashion sense of a hippopotamus in a mud pool. I genuinely did not (still don’t) understand what constitutes a good outfit and what is a lousy one. Marriage changed my appearance, though. Like e-mail programs that filter out spam and let you read only the mail they think appropriate for you, Sheela slashes out the inappropriate garments like Genghis Khan slaying peasants on the steppes.

    But my two sons, aged 13 and 11, are Beau Brummel himself. The younger one even has hair gel and spikes his hair when we go out to parties. They heap scorn on me on the rare occasions that I choose my own clothes, as sometimes happens when Sheela is busy in the morning, helping god run the universe. I of course, submit to their judgment, including which cologne to wear and which shoes will go.

    But I am a silent protester. Is appearance really that important? We have a guy in our company who is dandier than Mithun Chakravarthy in his prime. Yet it takes a mere thirty seconds for anyone to figure out what a berk he is. Who is he kidding? Shouldn’t the converse be true, then? Shouldn’t people who meet me think, even in their first meeting, what a nice and charming guy I am even though I look like I’m closely related to a baboon? Apparently not, according to mother and sons, but I wonder……

    Adi: Don’t judge the book by it’s cover, Mr. Shenoy? Fair enough I say!


  3. This is weird – I was just gonna right a post about a similar topic! I guess I’ll have to hold off for a few weeks now. :) As for me, I am not into fashion as much as style. Style to me is about stuff that gels well together and accentuates one’s personality, regardless whether it is fashionable or not. I also like to design my own stuff, and I have designed a couple of outfits for friends when I was in college. So, every time I go home to visit, I get a whole bunch of stuff made to spec – like 50 lbs worth per trip- some 20% of which goes to friends at a markup! Check this out in your spare time: – it’s a really good fashion blog.

    Adi: Similar post? hehe. You’ve designed stuff? That’s something! Style has to be perfected, I believe. The chances of screwing up are quite high!


  4. Just found this blog while surfing. Interesting stuff!!
    I infact have bad dressing habits passed to me by my brother who went and stayed for couple of years in hostels and then roams around in a truly torn, faded jeans and tshirt despite doing a job in a corporate!! :D
    But i like the fact that after seeing him I have become a lot more bindas about my dressing style.

    Adi: Welcome here! Being bindaas is actually good compared to being too finicky.


  5. You will hate me man! I hate dressing up. I am forever in a pair of faded jeans and anything that does not like crumpled ;)

    And now I know where you got your people watching ( read girl- watching ) from ;) My mom totally likes dressing us up. We are 3 girls and I do not think anything else made my mom happier than dressing us up. Very embarassingly, in weddings, she’d push us onto the video guy! Sigh. Am I talking more than Preethi of long comments fame? ( No offence to her, though. I like her!)

    Okay, mebbe I should blog on this, instead of commenting here no?

    Adi: Would love to read your take. Blog on it! But pushing you onto the video guy sure must have been embarrassing.


  6. lol, I still remember years back aunty used to love dressing me up…and used to say “cha! aki ponna porandurkanum”
    LOL pavam aki ! :P

    Adi: I remember too! :D


  7. I totally agree with your mom and aunt on the elegance that is showcased through a “namma ooru veshti sattai”. I guess that will remain a one of a kind fashion forever.

    Adi: Aye Aye!


  8. Well you know that i am also gonna end up with the same regret as your mother, no daughter to dress her up. Guess what i buy clothes for my friends new born daughter and then waiting for my aditya’s girlfriend / wife. All put together i like it when people take efforts and dress up to the ocassion. By the way i totally agree with the whole dhoti and shirt thing, in my personal opinion saree is one of the best attire.

    Adi: Hahaha, I am sure Aditya will live up to your expectations ;)


  9. For me, being well-dressed is something you can feel comfortable and eased-up in. And of course, I do a lot of accessorising and co-ordinating. But comfort takes precedence. I’ve seen some people in really wonderful clothes but totally uneasy, that puts me off!

    Adi: I know, not only uneasy, but they look totally out of sorts in it and worst thing, they’ll be aware of it.


  10. I really really enjoyed this one :)

    Perhaps because I could associate with it at some very very distant point. My friends moms have all, in the past, scorned at me for my dressing sense (or the lack of it). I used to tell them,there wasnt anything ‘wrong’ with mydressing sense, it was just that, I never bothered to have one. Hair tied up under a butter-fly clip, a cotton top, a pair of jeans/cargos/pattiala, some kajal (ok lots)..and I’m good to go.


    Adi: Glad, you enjoyed it akka! What is aathukar’s opinion about it? ;)


  11. this post! :D ditto on movies influencing fashion trends among us desis & to be blessed with parents who don’t abhor dressing up as an evil western influence! my mom leans more on KJ’s movies. :D she is such a sweetheart who keeps track of fashion scene dictated by malhotras and sabyasachis and keeps me posted. oh of course, only few clothes from tinseltown/or runways can translate well into the real world and most conveniently ignore such hard facts. also, clothes should be appropriate to the occasion, bod type, location and age. say trying to make a fashion statement on a stroll at pondy bazaar or on a road trip to rural mid-western,southern US is sheer lameness. girls showing up in their pajamas and sweats with a “just woke up look” for a class or the other extremes who dress up in prom gowns complete with stilettos & 3 inch make up for shopping at an outlet mall, beats me!and then there’s this bunch equating fashion ONLY to designer labels/or expensive flashy wear , sad but true! a strapless number from a small asian boutique at the mall paired with a denim skirt, can work a look. only if “they” knew! :P

    btw, no materialisation on your idea on BPSK’s …new brand for us 0’s and x-s..huh? :)


  12. achacho, my longest comment EVER! :|

    Adi: Never mind, I love “post-worthy” comments. :P

    And yes, some people are so mad after the brand that it makes their outlook on fashion so one dimensional. Nice you have a mom who is up to date on fashion too. And KJ, Yash Raj all same only! I know some people who are obsessed with make up, some colors and the likes. My idea about looking good is, it shouldn’t show that you have tried! Like you said, only if they “knew”! :D

    About BPSK’s idea, arre bhel sahib has to reply na. The venture capitalist has to give the go ahead! These people na, BPSK, Drenched and V have this bad habit of disappearing every now and then, hum kya karein! :|


  13. Good Stuff! Glad to see a guy into all this :) Fashion, in moderation, is always a good thing. The key word here being moderation. I think people here are still to understand that a fashion show as such represent a trend and not something that can be worn of the street!
    And I totally love white veshtis. I think they are the coolest ever. I like the panchagachcham even better. And yes, maddy is soooooo cute in dum dum dum! :D

    Adi: “Glad to see a guy into all this”. That’s a phrase people often tell me. :)


  14. Good lord, that previous comment was full of grammar errors!
    its “a fashion show as such represents a trend and not something that can be worn on the street. ”
    And I know a lot of my guy friends who still swear by the saree as the sexiest thing on a girl.
    True no?

    Adi: Ya ya true, but then origins of that opinion can be questionable ;)


  15. doode, caught Jaane Tu…pretty awesome movie.cute celebration of friendship, love and those nameless inbetweens. i developed this teeny weeny crush on Imran. if not for that annoying president-y brows…..cha! :D

    Adi: Lol @ brows! Too much to ask for :P


  16. Good one :)
    Clothes not only enhance our best features worn right, but truly create an impression. For ex: There was this student dude who came for an intern position. He was quite techy and would have been an asset, but our PM who isn’t techy vetoed him outright. Reason: The guy looked like he rolled outa bed. White shirt crumpled, no folder, hair uncombed, no pen either!
    Looks matter. Unless youre a brilliant genius madcap prof crunching numbers at Stanford labs.

    Adi: Heh, yeah. Only the geeky people, too egoistic to care for others’ opinions have that liberty, I guess.


  17. @Nandini: Cha! My image total damage everywhere :-/ But it’s ok, this time wicked gurl has taken over (i forgot i havent started my comment yet, so i still dno how long it’s gonna be!)

    @ Adi: Fashion sense…I had done a post a reallll long while ago on this…To me fashion is very very subjective and equates only to comfort…there may be someone who is extremely comfy in an LBD n then again someone who isnt…there isnt a point in wearin somethin to be ‘in’ when inside ur feelin like a million bugs r on u..! Style => Fashion => has to suit the person, and it has to be comfortable…I know soooo many people who would swear by a pair of jeans and a tshirt as THE most comfy thing..I would agree too…but what i dont understand is WHY they say – oh god, salwar? never! Cuz it is…uncool perhaps?

    I’ve always always worn what i wanted to – what i like and what i think suits me…i cn never be convinced into wearin somethin i dont like or i cant carry off…and i must add, i have been told i do have pretty good dressin sense!

    As far as make-up and all that, i like that too…whether fashion is an art or not, moderation is an art… :)

    And it is sooooooooo cool that ur mum is super hip…my mom konjam pavam when it comes to all this…she’ll see my clothes and go- ‘idaya poda pora???’ and then she’d go away :) Btw, she always wanted a boy, especially when i was born- which is why most astro dudes and normal ppl say – payan aa poraka vendiyadu, ponna porandita..hehe…(they r oblivious to my sensitive side u see ;))

    P.S: There i have lived up to my ‘damaged-beyond-repair image :)

    Adi: Lol, you beat WT so effortlessly! Yes, I totally agree when you say comfort precedes everything, no matter what’s “in”.


  18. I can imagine your cousin’s parents banning the cousin from ever wearing that T-Shirt ;) Look out for their maid servant’s son (NOT daughter)- I am sure he is wearing it right now :D

    Adi: Heh! If I were in the same city then, I would have surely noticed! And, Welcome!


  19. Ooooh, I loved this post!
    Fashion could be following the fad and all but sometimes, it’s just how well you carry the clothes you’re wearing is all that matters. And sometimes, comfort is just a state of mind or a matter of habit I reckon. I may call a saree or a salwar kameez uncomfortable right now but that’s only because I’ve never worn a saree in my life and a salwar kameez only a couple of times. My mum finds them stylish, comfortable and fashionable, which they are. I never wore high heels until last year because I used to consider them uncomfortable… but I’m pretty used to them now and I recently mustered up enough courage to buy 4-inch stilletos. This proved to me that it all comes down to habit and comfort and all that jazz is all your head. :P
    My dad is a bit like your mum when it comes to fashion and clothes and style and stuff. I grew up with this whole dressing well thing drilled in my head, except that I resented it back then until I got more sense and became a student of the Art of Dressing 101. Then, I started seeing my (now) XB and since he was one step ahead of my dad in these matters, I graduated in the course with honours.
    I tend to trust my dad more than my mum in these matters though because I have come to the conclusion that men generally have a better taste in this stuff… if only they can be brought about to take interest in it in the first place.
    I got carried away as usual. So much rambling. Sowwie.

    PS: I don’t disappear, all right! I just tend to take little breaks now and then. It’s a sign of genius. BPSK goes into hiding perhaps. And why bother about pests like V? He went on a visit to India though. Maybe he fell into an open manhole and got eaten up by roaches. Joy to the world! :D

    Adi: ah, that’s probably the longest comment! 4-inch stilettos??? Yabba! Because of your very famous height eh?Eh? Eh? :P


  20. You are one lucky person!!! Your mom had no issues and thats a great thing…and I understand her 2 sons stuff…I have 2 sons, and before I understand one statement of fashion its down my own throat :(..all i’m left with is…jeans slung so low on the hips i’m scared it’ll need real scaffolding to hoist it up..
    But as long as the kids are comfortable and look neat and clean…its ok I guess…

    Adi: I know am lucky :D . And lol @ slung so low on the hips.


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