An Open Mind to Carry Oneself

The need for self-approval is striking at times. And “striking” in all its senses. “Fashion is being comfortable in your own skin”, is a rather clichéd definition. Moreover, the irony is that it has nothing to do with those saying it. After all, who isn’t comfortable in designer skins, when others lurk at your haute couture with jealousy?

A few evenings back at an uptown bar, my husband made a rather startling behavioral observation under the gleam of neon lights and sound of experimental DJ music. Every time a swanky woman entered the lounge, heads turned and eyes stared. But the interesting part is that this head count had more women than men. No there is no issue of lesbianism here (we already have an overdose of reports on it) and neither does the lounge invoke any such preferences in its female guests.

Women have their own reasons to look with interest at other women. Fashion feisty that we have grown; it matters if my Gucci is better than her Prada or her Dior outshines my Chanel. In addition, the accompanying paraphernalia of fashion is ever growing. After all, girls will be girls. From stilettos to hand bags, bracelets to chandeliers (they have found their place from our ceilings to the ears as well) it all counts. I have myself indulged in such conversations at parties and know others do as well. Just as you take the glass to the lips and turn around, you see another guest entering and between the sip you mutter, “Oh! What a gauche she looks”. Suddenly there is a glint in your eyes. The tackily dressed guest gives you a double bonanza. Firstly, you get something to gossip about and secondly and secretly it boosts your confidence and ego. One less to compete in style and panache.

Funny as it may sound, we spend half a fortune for our outfits to become conversational topics at social evenings. Well, I myself revel in such trivialities. However, that is how our sensibility and sensitivity have evolved. There is another interesting insight in the fairer sex behaviour. While in her late twenties and early thirties, basking in the prime of her youth, a woman desires to catch every man’s fancy. The same is also true of the men folk at this age, which is attracting the opposite sex. However, with time and age while most men grow out of this vanity, women change their target. Now the purpose of all embellishments and adornments is to attract every other woman’s attention. Yes, it is somewhat conceit but gratifies us nevertheless.

Whether you are a human rights activist, or an art aficionado, a litterateur or a socialite, what you wear and how you wear should say it all. And bling! Do it all with élan. Make a statement but the trick is to do it without words. I guess it is here that style and fashion diverge. Style defines the individual while fashion defines the designer. Our excessive fancy and over experimentation with fashion rather leaves us a nonentity. Stendhal, the great French writer remarked, “Only great minds can afford simple style.” I believe it is true because while great minds have strikingly fashionable ideas and thoughts, we are still hankering about Fall Winter Collection 2009. Maybe we hide our unimaginativeness behind the façade of ensembles and accessories.

Gail Rubin Bereny said, “Above all, remember that the most important thing that you can take anywhere is not a Gucci bag or French cut jeans; it’s an open mind.”

(Published in the Chennai Edition of Indian Express on 8th Oct. 2009, Copyright The New Indian Express)