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The Sassy Side of Sixty: Outfits

by Aiden

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 Texas Theatre.

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!

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