Dolly Koghar gives her generation’s take on how the changing times have changed our views of appropriateness.
I’m socially inept and make it worse by regretting the choice-de-jour of the clothes I wear to a function, despite moderate planning. Back in the last century, it was a salwar-kameez to the gurudwara and for everything and everywhere else it was the sari. A lot of forethought went into a sari, befitting the occasion and bobbles to match: we’d don a bouffant or puff hairdo, a lip colour, and the indispensable bindi to complete the Indian naree look. In the evenings of those halcyon days of being a newlywed, I’d drape a prettier one in the evenings, which nevertheless never garnered me a candlelit dinner-for-two. Trousers and shirts for ladies was a strict no-no, unless it was a twosome beach trip, which was unlikely. On Sundays, while waiting to watch the current Bollywood tear-jerker, we womenfolk vied with each other in the latest printed, georgette saris in the paan-stained lobby of TexasTheatre.
No pregnancy is easy and mine were made worse with the cumbersome sari, and the palla on the head when dad-in-law was around. By my last pregnancy, the practical salwar-kameez finally got the society’s nod; by which time the younger gen had already pushed their way past the head-covering and didn’t need permission to don decent western casuals.
Fast forward to today’s array of options which beats Starbucks’. The evergreen sari stayed put, so did the comfortable salwar-kameez, but the range now includes patialas, lungis, lehengas, shararas, Western and Indian long dresses, short dresses, and beachwear –added onto the already confounding choices, is bindi or no bindi; traditional or funky jewellery!
While I remain unperturbed about dolling up (sour grapes), since I don’t seem to exist; nevertheless, here’s what my fellow ‘sassies‘ have to say:
- “I pay attention only while getting ready, but don’t sweat once I step out.” – four understated men
- “In my younger days, it mattered somewhat, but now I’m old and don’t expect any appreciation. So, I dress for myself and I enjoy whatever I choose to wear and I’m not bothered with repeats.”
- “It’d be a lie if I said that I’m comfortable walking into a mehendi party in jeans. I usually dress to blend-in rather than look ostentatious, and since I can’t change there and then, I let it go and admire others at the party.”
- “Earlier, I had the silly habit of hoarding and sitting on nice stuff, but I’ve never slapped my forehead and regretted what I wore to a function. Phew! It’s behind me now, the useless, foolish, stressing with whatever I’m wearing, so I hold my head high and strut along.”
- “I’m not a conscious stylist, nor do I get into a fashion race to impress others; I buy basic stuff, to feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t plan ahead for functions other than my own, so I randomly and spontaneously pick whatever I’ll be wearing, while making sure my extra lumps are well hidden!”
- “Haha! I’ve not attended weddings or a gurudwara functions in ages, but for few funerals, where we wear white! But, yes, I have very often doubted my choice. At times, I feel overdressed, at other times, I wonder if I should’ve worn pants instead of a dress, or if I’m in a dress, maybe an Indian outfit would have been more appropriate.”
- “Do I worry about what I wear? Never, ji!” – a drop-dead and impeccably-dressed dame
- “Honestly, most of the time I am so unsure and wonder if what I’m wearing is ok for Bangkok standards, which is very different and dressy from where I come from.”
- “When I worry about what to wear, which is rare, I push it away, since I still don’t feel 100 percent Bangkokian despite living here since forever. Also, I’ve been a working woman all my life, and I’d rather spend my earnings on skincare. After an auntie’s suggestion, I’ve started sporting a bindi with my Indian outfits, which helps me look less luk kreung.”
P.S. While on the subject of dressing, I’d like for our menfolk to hear this loud and clear: we womenfolk dress to enhance ourselves, and for the discerning eye of our fellow senoritas!