Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sense and Sensibility

I've not been a great dresser. Not ever. And this post isn't about the great novel. It is about the dress sense of people and how it affects my sensibilities. My clothes have always been what I'd call comfortable. My friends at one point had threatened to disown me if I ever bought another piece of vegetable dyed Gujarat block printed material. I still do. I find them very pretty and, most of all, comfortable. And I can't ever coordinate my ear-rings and shoes and handbag to the clothes I am wearing. So, I tend to carry the same handbag everywhere. I wear the same set of ear-rings and almost always am wearing the same comfy footwear.

A proper down to her little toe Delhiite once asked me in typical Delhi English, "Don't mind, I want to ask you something. I've noticed that you wear the same footwear with jeans, trousers, suits and sarees. Don't you have any others?" I said, "I said, 'I have another pair at home for when this wears out. The look on her face was saying, "Oh you poor thing. I didn't think you were that hard up for money." But what she said to me was, "Here, whenever we buy a dress, we buy all matching accessories for that."

Thanks to my never ending skin allergies, I can only wear cotton, silk, or a combination of the two. In Hyderabad, I was once told by a colleague, "You don't wear synthetics, you don't know what you're missing!" And I thought "Fine! I live a sorry sad life."

I've always traveled comfy. Track pants instead of jeans for long train journeys or overnight bus journeys. Casual and comfortable. The same goes for flights. I find it amusing when people dress up in their finest clothes for a flight. My husband and I were once aboard a flight at Delhi, and I felt like a beggar. I'd just woken up, had a bath, put on a pair of jeans and a kurta over it. People were dressed in chiffons, or silks... had loads of jewellery, make up... the works. Even some men were so overdressed that I can't find words to describe what I felt. It was evident from their conversations that they'd spent the day sightseeing. It was like they became sights for others to see.

Somewhere else, maybe! But in Delhi, I've found that dressing up like that isn't exactly unusual. Most of the places that I go to, I see people dressed in totally "dhinchak" colours. There's a special pink. And on any given day, you're bound to see that pink paired with orange, yellow and the brightest blue you can see. A colleague once joked to me that people dress this way so that they can be spotted from a distance. But if every one's dressed in these colours, then how does one tell the difference?

During a college trip to Kodaikanal, that involved endless walking during field trips to study plants, I noticed that some classmates had come in flowing chiffons and high heels. And I thought, "How are they going to climb the mountains with these?" Three weeks ago, S and I went to Mussoorie. And half of Delhi was there. And believe me, it was a sight. Pinks and blues with loads of zari and stone work everywhere. High heels that were stone studded. All this for a day picnic!! And there I was... in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

But I can't help but think: is it them? Or is it them? One more of those things that remain beyond me and my comprehension.


Chill said...

Men are better off... I think ladies have become accustomed to the Nylons and Chiffons and Mysore Silks from the Saree Days...

Flights are very comical... Who wants to travel 14 Hrs suited and booted with a scarf(if its a woman) or a tie (if its a guy). I understand businessmen and executives traveling that way to attend a meeting the moment they land at the airport.

Pinks and Blues are Northy ladies, favourite colors (neela dupatta song... remember). I've generally noticed people along the coastal towns using a lot of pastel shades in their attires... Ex: Greece( Beautiful Bluey Greens with Minnal White), Spain( Brownish Beige with a lot of white overtones, not to mention the dirty or mild pink)... etc.,

Chennai ponnunga chennai ponnunga thaan. Namma ooru maathiri varumaa?

Anonymous said...

Oh its them its them its them ... I totally get what you write here ..
your friends threatened to disown you for your Gujrati block prints and mine did for my calf length jeans (they call it capris now)and blue shirt ; the delhiite asked you if you owned another pair of footwear and some ppl asked me if I owned anything else to wear when I turned up at a wedding in jeans and a cotton kurta (well I was'nt going to put myself out to dress like the crowd in that sweltering heat); I travel half way across the globe once again in my trusted pair of jeans and bata chappals (well there's a 'new'fancy name for those chappals now:flip-flops)..
3 Cheers to comfort-dressing and I hope there are many more around !

Raaga said...

So Chill, you're saying my dress sense has to do with my affair with coastal towns... :-) born, bred and educated in 3 different coastal towns :-)

And Anon, welcome. Comfort dressing should lead the way.

Aaarti said...

lol..i've also been there done that types.. but hey at the end of the day what matters is are we comfy in what we are wearing.. yes,so who cares about others..

Yes,i do believe in experimenting once in a while,but no point wearing something that doesnt suit u or you are allergic too just cos others are judging you..

i've discovered that we are all so bothered about "others' when we fail to realise that these so called others are also bothered about some others,of which we are a part of.. :)

Damitra said...

i used to think this way too...till my mom accused me of reverse snobbery!! she said i thought i was too cool to try to dress UP. Practical ocassions apart, i realized she was kinda right. so i dress smart and comfy opposed to purely comfy earlier!

Raaga said...

@Damitra: Well... I think it is OK to dress according to the occasion :-)

Damitra said...

For ex in the airport/rly station...i take trouble to dress better coz i invariably meet my husband's colleagues....and dont want them pitying him!! :)

Raaga said...

@Damitra: Hmmm... I can imagine :-)

Manisha said...

I echo Anon above: it's them! it's them! it's them!

There is this whole concept of Voluntary Simplicity where you choose how you want to simplify your life. It is about everything from your personal comfort with what you wear to how and where you work. The underlying assumption is that you must be at peace with the path you choose. There's no point in choosing to lead a simple life when you really want all the latest stuff - from gadgets to clothes to cars.

Your random thoughts make me smile. Keep writing!

smilie said...

comfort wear is my cup of tea too..
Hope u wont mind if I add ur blog into my blog roll.

Catherine said...

You're not missing anything by not wearing synthetics! I have no skin allergies, but nevertheless I hate to wear synthetics since they feel so staticky and sweaty. It's a pity, perhaps, since natural fiber clothes are more expensive.

Anonymous said...

i feel compelled to comment again...while i will say to each his own....i hate generalisations based on region / language etc....i've had it said to me many times over "oh you saaaoooth indians are very simpal (read drab and dowdy)".......that said, i am not a fashion slave....if i like it i will buy / wear it.... i began wearing kurtis with jeans, have always worn my wavy hair open and eyes lined with kajal much before kareena kapoor made it the "LOOK to have" with Yuva....and refuse to tether and fall over pencil heels when the occassion is inappropriate....but again my mood is the final defining factor....

hail block printed cottons ....its now called sexy!!