Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004




In Fashion…Slice your style

The other day, I was having lunch with this pretty, young lady whose zest for life and living extended to yummy food as well. This was clearly beginning to show on her once svelte figure. Half way through the delicious Chinese meal, I began to notice her flab that seemed to form tiers around her midriff. Her rather tight kurti, apparently a hep designer piece, was doing very little to camouflage the fat. Apparently, the lady must have picked up the dress to keep herself in tune with the prevailing style. Which today is figure-hugging wear that shows of every body contour. However, in the case of my lunch friend, the latest trend-setting kurti was highlighting what it should not be. Clearly.

Shriya...a perfect figure
This is a major weakness with Indians who flip for fashion and become a slave of style – the ones in vogue, of course. Often, the days’ trend may not suite some. Indeed, many, I would say. My companion that afternoon ought never to have worn something as fitting as the one she sported. Body embracing clothes are certainly meant for those who are not flabby.

Men and women who are on the fatter side must begin to feel comfortable in lose-fit garments. Which hide, not scream out, their unflattering parts. And mind you, wonderful creativity can come out of what suits you. It is not difficult, provided you use a little imagination.

Here is one tip for men whose tummies may not be flat: use pleated trousers, the folds will not only ensure greater comfort, but also conceal the bulge.

Here is another hint for short people: never wear stripes that are horizontal, for these can make you look shorter. Again, shorter men and women need to avoid long kurtas for a similar reason.

Yet another suggestion: those who are dark or even wheatish, do stay away from bright colours. A loud yellow will accentuate one’s dark skin tone. Ditto for those who are extremely fair or light skinned. Here again, a hue like flaming red will jar. I think those who are moderately complexioned – neither dark nor very fair – can safely go for a wider range of colours.

So, it is prudent to carve out a style that suits YOU, rather than aping what may then be a fad. It is far better to look easy and good in something that may not be “fashionable”, rather than appear uncomfortable and uncouth in the day’s designs. For example, I would never recommend high-heeled shoes or slippers for those whose professions may demand long hours on feet.

Often, men and women fall prey to glamour, caring little if that bit of fashion is synonymous with them. Now picture a woman with either fat or skinny legs strutting about in a short skirt. It can be a terrible put off.

But where did this notion of fashion begin in the first place. The art of continually changing clothes is a Western concept, which can be dated to the middle of the 14th century. Historians like James Laver and Fernand Braudel said that fashion as we know today began then.

The most dramatic manifestation was a sudden drastic shortening and tightening of the male over-garment, from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, sometimes accompanied with stuffing on the chest. This created the distinctive Western male outline of a tailored top worn over leggings or trousers, which is still with us today.

The pace of style accelerated considerably in the 15th century, when women’s fashion, complete with elaborate hairdo, came into vogue. Initially changes in fashion led to a fragmentation of what had previously been very similar styles of dressing across the upper classes of Europe, and the development of distinctive national costumes, which remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th and 18th centuries imposed similar patterns once again.

Though fashion was always led by the rich, the increasing affluence of Early Modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even farmers following trends, sometimes uncomfortably close for the elites - a factor regarded as one of the main motors of changing style.

So, history is replete with a constantly evolving dress sense, but style , I dare say, lies in slicing off what is best for you.

(Webposted July 17 2007)