As I stood decked up in an ostentatious outfit on my son’s wedding, I remembered my mother, sans any makeup dressed modestly on mine. She wore a simple sari that she had picked up randomly from her limited wardrobe. While my mother did not spend a penny on herself for the occasion, I spent a fortune on my dress.
To brush aside any feeling of guilt that I had for indulging in myself, I sought justification in the trend today wherein a mother, whether of a bride or a bride-groom, does not want to be left unnoticed . Today, the mother, too, wants to look good and feel good. Her dresses and accessories are high on the wedding shopping agenda. She is ready to splurge money and time on herself, and has no qualms about it.
The fact is that over the past three decades, there has been a sea change in the outlook of women of all ages, including their wardrobe. Not only that women, regardless of age, have been spending money on themselves but are also bolder and experimental in the choice of their dresses. They select trendy outfits in place of the conventional ones, whether casual or formal wear. Sari, the elegant six-yard drape no longer enjoys the kind of popularity that it had in the past. Not only has the conventional sari appeared in new avatars but the traditional salwar kameezis also on its way out, being replaced by its myriad new interpretations.
A decade ago, when I visited the West, I was in for a cultural shock to see both the mother and daughter in the same type of attire. Now, I see the same trend catching up in our own country. Today, it is not a big deal to see a twenty-year old girl and a sixty-plus woman wearing similar dresses, at least in the metropolis and big cities. Quite clearly, there is a sort of bridging of sartorial generation gap, a sign of democratization of fashion in the new millennium.
Dressing according to age is becoming outdated; instead ‘not wearing dresses as per your age’ seems to be gaining momentum. Today, it is not uncommon to see the youngsters attired in sober beige and grey and the elders in flashy outfits. It is remarkable to see the seniors flaunting bright red and orange colours of lipsticks, while the younger lot prefers to wear nude and light shades.
There is a saying in Punjabi that goes ‘Khao man bhanda, pao jag bhanda’ implying that you should eat what you like, dress up as per societal norms. The trend today towards the reversal. Life style diseases coupled with health consciousness have put many food items in the ‘forbidden’ category but there are far less restrictions on the way you dress today. You may be on a strict diet but, thankfully, you are not bound by a strict dress code. High cholesterol and rising sugar levels may prevent you from indulging in Gajrela, pinnis in winters and your favorite ice cream in summers. You may not be allowed to gorge on parathas with dollops of homemade white butter but you enjoy far greater freedom in the choice of your attire. Food may not as per your taste buds but your dress is as per your liking. With all sorts of diet fads in vogue these days, you may be on keto diet, taking a large amount of a single food like cabbage soup or grapefruit to reduce weight, but you make sure you dress up as per your choice; it may even be flaunting the dresses which have been a taboo in the past. To hell with the society, you wear what flatters you – ethnic or western wear, sari or suit, loose or tight, high or low.
‘Dress up the way you want, whatever your age’ is the new fashion mantra. Well! Wear what makes you happy; but make sure that you are dressed according to the occasion. It is imperative that you look dignified and feel confident in whatever you choose to wear.
(Published in Woman’s era 2024 , January issue )