Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings

Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings

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A few weeks back I attended the investiture ceremony at my niece’s school. There she was, right in the front, in her spotless white salwar-kurta, her hair in a neat little bun, a smart cap on her head. My heart filled with incredible pride as I watched her march by and accept the head girl sash.

Her salwar-kurta reminded me of my school days. Till we were in class ten we had uniforms – a sky blue blouse with the school initials in a beautiful cursive on the pocket, neatly tucked into a matching sky blue skirt. I still think of it with happy nostalgia perhaps because school was my absolute happy place. Also, that sky blue was so very different from the white, grey and navy of all other schools. We were ‘different’ and that somehow translated as ‘better’ in our young minds. We were a cut above the rest and that uniform was an inherent part of the feeling.

In class eleven, the school did away with uniforms since we were now technically in Junior College and we were free to wear whatever we wanted. That was our first taste of freedom – freedom to wear our own personalities, our first tentative steps in the world of ‘fashionable’ wear.

And yet, so in love we were with that uniform, that a bunch of us continued to wear it at least few days every week. It seems strange now. Why would one choose a uniform, that of a junior class, when one could pick simply anything from the wardrobe? But we did just that.

By the time my sister got to junior college the no-uniform rule was gone and the girls were given a cream and blue salwar-kurta ensemble. How everyone resented that! First there was the whole idea of a uniform and then this – no smart skirts, but this shabby shapeless thing.

Even my classmates and I, who were by now in Colleges and Universities across the country, hated the thought of girls from our alma-mater wearing that ‘behenji’ dress. It somehow diluted our cool-quotient, or so we believed.

How very wrong we were, thought I with the wisdom that comes with age. I looked on as my niece accepted the flag from last year’s office bearers and delivered the Thank You speech. She did so with amazing flair. The way she marched, the way she spoke, the way she carried herself, I barely noticed her clothes, nobody did. All we saw was an accomplished young girl, solemn and earnest, eager to shine in the new role she was being entrusted with.

She completely rocked that salwar-kurta!

In that moment I realised how stupid we were and I was so so proud of the level-headedness of this new generation that wears the LBD with just as much panache as the salwar-suit.

Clothes are after all, just an enhancement of our inner selves, nothing more. Mark Twain was way off the mark when he said Clothes maketh the man; definitely not true for young women, not any more.


Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

26 Replies to “Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings”

  1. You just took me back to my very own school days. How much we loved it. A green and white uniform in an all-girls school only meant to be worn a little above the knee. While the innocent me felt great about it then, I wonder now how confidently we wore it back then. We had skirts only on Fridays. From 11th, we had salwar kameez with an over coat. I must say though we made fun of the uniform back in time, we loved it. If clothes create an impression, I think I felt better in uniform. I am better off in a pair of shorts and a tee. However, since I live in a joint family at the husband’s, they are not very open as yet to me wearing a short and tee. Then we would become known as a family of shorts and a tee. Loved your post Tulika. I have been thinking to comment since ages. Sorry for such a late reply on this one.

  2. I love the salwar kameez, so functional and comfy. When I was growing up, we only had skirts and we loved them. Makes you feel very cool. That matters when you are a teen. I still love my jeans and tees, dresses but kurti with churidar is also perfect. I hardly see girls these days wear ethnic dresses. They love in jeans and shorts. Your niece is rocking it. It takes time and wisdom before we have the confidence to realize that we are much more than the clothes we wear.

  3. Congratulations to your niece. I so agree, it’s not the clothes but the person underneath it that matters. One should wear what one is most comfortable in.

  4. Clothes do maketh a man.. so is said. But I find the salwar kurta a comfy wear considering the hot place we live in. Ofcourse as a young girl, we do look upon it as a behenji dress. but now looking back, I felt it was actually comfy.

    1. It is comfortable yet I’m not such a fan of the salwar kurta. However that’s not the point I’m trying to make. We need to look at a person beyond the clothes – be more than our clothes too.

  5. How true ! I remember my school uniform too. It was different from the other schools’ and we loved it . Some of the really cool girls used to hitch the dowdy knee length skirt way up their long legs and manage to make a fashion statement as they sashayed before the boys in class .
    I now realise how shallow that was too ! But even though you aren’t defined by your clothes, don’t first impressions matter ?
    Congratulations to your niece . It is an achievement she can be proud of and I’m sure will be the first of many more laurels she will win.

    1. Oh yes of course first impressions matter. However to judge someone, to write them off for their clothes is wrong. I think age gives you the perspective to understand that. When we’re younger clothes are everything, which is why I want to pass on this lesson to H and N and hope it registers somewhere in part at least.
      Thanks for the warm wishes for my niece.

  6. Aah! This reminded me of my school days. Ours was light blue shirt with dark blue skirt and red tie. We were so proud of our school and our uniform. It was a part of our school identity and united us. I missed wearing it for a few months of college and then acceptance came in. 😀 Clothes reflect a part of our self-image but it’s our attitude and how we carry ourselves is what matters the most.

    1. Ooh I thought a tie was so cool. We had it only in our winter uniform. However as a mum now I’m just glad that they don’t have all these accessories to handle.

  7. What is meant by LBD?
    If I go back to think about my school uniform, I see the white uniform – white shirt and white skirt and I do not want to think about it. Because, years later, D got admitted in a school of the same franchise, with the same uniform and the whole of my last year went into finding ways to wash out stains from his uniform. I suck at every means of household work and I sucked and shed tears at putting in hard efforts of washing 3 sets of uniform twice a week. If clothes maketh the man, washing maketh the woman.

    1. LBD – Little Black Dress :-). And don’t say that pleeeease – Washing doesn’t make a woman just as clothes do not make a man. I know what you mean though. I’m glad H and N have the best unofrm ever – navy tracks and tees for sports and beige and red on other days. Simple and unisex. That’s one of the reasons why I love their school.

  8. I too hated salwar kameez when I moved to a different school. But now when I look back, it doesn’t matter. I used to work near furnance and hammer rods into shapes wearing an old salwar kameez during degree first year. Imagine how funny it must have looked, but it doesn’t matter. What I remember is strong girls trying to learn and do something that they had never done before. You must have felt so proud watching your niece wearing the sash walking confidently across the stage.

    1. As youngsters we tend to attach too much importance to external trappings and I think that’s normal but one needs to outgrow it.
      I like the picture of working at a furnace :-).
      It certainly was a wonderful moment to watch her get that flag and sash.

  9. Thank God I grew up in an era where we had skirts for uniform. Since I studied in an all girls convent, we had to have the skirt above our knee. We girls took advantage of it and wore them with tiny socks and showed off our legs 😀

    Kids these days rock anything! They know their body, their styles and somehow manage to carry it off with so much panache. Personally, I hate wearing a salwar-kurta. I’d rather manage a saree instead. While I do have quite a collection of cotton kurtas, I wear them only when I have no mood to dress up or have nothing else ready to wear. Something about it troubles me. It makes me feel shapeless and very old for some reason. Well, that is just me. I’m most comfortable in a pair of skinny jeans and a basic T-shirt.

    1. Ha ha Soumya a lot of girls did that at our school too.
      I’m not very fond of the salwar kurta too – just seems a lot of work and coordination – three pieces of clothing. A jeans and tee are much more functional. But I’ve seen girls wearing smartly fitted ones or the long flowing ones and they look absolutely beautiful. And also chikan ones from my hometown are gorgeous. I carry them for friends each time I go to Lucknow.

  10. First of all congratulations to your niece, T.
    And secondly, I agree with every thing you say. I’m just back from a holiday where I witnessed many women looking pretty out of place in outfits that they think they ‘have to wear’ on holiday! Wear what you are comfortable in and focus on your personality, right?

    1. Thank you Corinne. It was a very happy moment for all of us.
      Oh the trying-too-hard is the worst thing and a lot of young people fall into that trap. Focussing on your personality, wearing what makes you happy and comfortable are definitely the mantras to follow.

  11. I studied in a convent school where girls had a white blouse and sky blue skirt as uniform while boys wore white shirts and sky blue pants. A decade after I passed out, the uniform for girls was changed to salwaar kameez and I felt the same as you. I considered it regressive and so aunty types. Two years ago I went for an alumni meet at my school and I realized that a dress has nothing to do with either confidence or talent. Your post reminded me of my own prejudiced mind before the meet. Thank you for this dollop of nostalgia.

    1. We often carry along such prejudices without even realising it. Aunty-type is what we thought too :-). But girls these days and even back in our time come with their own personalities that goes beyond clothes.

  12. That is strange that you kept on wearing the uniform. I am sure you had an emotional attachment to it. I always love to read nostalgic posts, this one was really a great read to begin the week.

    1. Well it wasn’t very strange to us because we were in the same school, same building – just a separate section – so it was like we continued to be in school. Thanks for dropping by Balaka.

  13. Nostalgia hit me hard while reading your post, remembering my school uniform, white shirt, and navy blue tunic and grey salwar kameez in graduation. It is sad that people are still judged based on their attire. It’s your attitude that matters, and not the dress. Nice post.

  14. Reading your post after long but then I have been guilty of not reading for a while now. I do believe it’s oue confidence, attitude and the way we perceive ourselves that makes or breaks our personality. Clothes do create impression but sometimes we realize that first impression was not really the correct one.

    1. Yes. Clothes are important of course but they’re not ALL important, that’s what I’m trying to say and definitely not more important than the person wearing them.

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