For reading her for more than four years, for picking too many ideas from her and simply for documentation, I’ll copy Garance Dore’s post on the evolution of her style and nod.
Like most girls, my first and the biggest influence in clothes and dressing sense has been my mother. “Dress presentable” she always says. She means be creative with designs, have a well fitting good pair(s) of jeans, heels, heels, heels, mix basics well, carry yourself well and let it match what you are wearing, work with basics, good quality cloth, colors that suit you, nice hair cut, less accessories and NO CREASE ON THE CLOTHES. Neat. And tidy.
I can say till about middle school, I had the same pattern of wearing clothes. Blindly follow what amma says. And the results are well, who cares as long as people are complementing. “Oh! wow. That’s a nice dress. Let me guess, your mother must have stitched it”. “You and your sister wear the same kind of clothes. You must be twins”. Then there was this set of clothes that either mama got from forin every once in a while or cousins sent from Fashion street. “I mean it’s nice. Different, but nice”. “Outlandish aagide”.
High school was probably very exciting. Another reason why I wanted to go to Marimallappa’s was because of wednesday colour dress. This meant that I could actually wear all my clothes, somewhere other than the limitedness of our social interactions and sangeetha class. Of course, I had to cut down on the mini skirts and shorts to put maska to the teachers on my cousin’s advice. “tale baagskoNdu naDi. yaavaaglu namskara annu.” This meant wearing them in Sayyaji Rao road and getting passes. But then all the batte hunting, crochet thread or woolen hunting, lace, satin, button hunting, garden sale, Institute of Engineers craft exhibition for raw materials for amma’s latest holige project was way too much education to miss out on. The whole phase was all about mixing awesome quality clothes from forin with what amma made. A bunch of jackets and and a couple of blouses, I still have and use.
For someone who strongly believes that no girl should wear loose-loose chuDidaara, yeNNe hachkoNdu yerd jaDe and baaDhogira mallge hoovu till beyond middle school, 1st and 2nd PUC was too much for a transition to only chuDidaara. Considering the serious IITJEE aspirant from Mysore who doesn’t go to tutions that I had become, it was too much suffocation to wear only chuDidaara to college. Compensation: I got enough of them to go without repeating for more than two months. It is another issue that I used to bunk too many classes.
I guess the dark age really came in Engineering. Bad nourishment, lack of hygienic conditions in the hostel, skewed boy-girl ratio and the lack of a Nazi eye to monitor were probably the starting points. NITK probably had far more interesting things to do than bother about frivolous things like what I’m wearing, I told myself. After that, I discovered how easy it was to hoard on department t-shirts, fest t-shirts, fest t-shirts from last year’s and t-shirts from some other college fest I attended. Easy maintenance. Takes very less thinking when you wake up late for the class and don’t care what you wear without that morning bath. It is easier to slip when your exposure to girls is the ones around you who pretty much slipped like you and things seem to be working well. DASA girls? “Screw those bitches”. The bigger mistake was deciding to grow hair after 16 years of mushroom cut. I got the wrong cut. The result of all of these was a very bad phase which I hope to never get into ever again. Also a huge set of photographs with lovely memories, but make me want to cry or puke or both.
One big reason I love Bombay is for the clothes. Some others say that it was my NIFT Delhi roommate who convinced me to get out the phase and try harder. What I saw there was, the ease with which people carry both western and desi clothes. That, chuDidaaras don’t come just in the form of the conservative style of the Mysore middle school children with purple and orange jari border. Clothes in one billion styles. Bangles and scrunchies and ear studs, all waiting on Hill Road, Linking Road and Colaba Causeway, for me to bargain and buy. When people all around you are pulling off the quirkiest of clothes, it is easier to experiment. I guess I realized irrespective of how many clothes my mother made me wear, irrespective of how easily I could wear them, I had no clue what to populate my wardrobe with from that huge pool of extremely cheap clothes. I probably didn’t have my own sense of style. If you make a mistake, people will smirk. If you manage to pull it off, more people notice and compliment. The only thing I learned from this was that amma was right all along. It is a different thing to realize each instruction as though it is your own.
Living in a place with four different season on a shoe string budget comes with its own challenges. What will you do with three suitcases of clothes you brought there when summer gets over? Two jackets for the other three-fourth of the year? Really? Even if you layer, do you realize the clash of colors and designs without that snow jacket? Oh my god! My best pair of jeans make me feel cold below 5 C. And Buffalo’s winter can go all the way down to – 20 C. How many snow boots can my budget allow me to buy? Panic! Panic! Panic! How to buy minimalistic clothes and incorporate one from another season is something I’m still struggling with. But I’m pretty sure to have atleast made a beginning in something so creative and I find pure pleasure in. Amma finally agreed that I might have some sense of style.
Neat. Tidy. Pulled together. Some attitude to carry all that with. That’s all I aim for.