Perennial Fashion

It is said that the fashion of today will look horrendous five years from now. I say fashion is something that looks horrendous right now! Fashion is also supposed to be seasonal; every few months even the saner magazines feel the need to tell us about the new ways to look ridiculous, as the old ways don’t seem to be ridiculous enough. Here, I bring you perennial fashion: tips and tricks that will hold you in good stead for years to come. Keep in mind
that I will deal with the dominant part of fashion that guides you like a duck going through the grinder in hopes of emerging as a peacock. The reasonable styles floating around the edges of the world of fashion that can be adopted sensibly if they are to one’s liking are, of course, something we fashion divas avoid like the plague.

Our motto – skin is in

Always remember, it’s not about clothes: it’s about YOU. Do not suffocate yourself underneath unnecessary clothing. After all, if it’s all about YOU, and YOU are hidden by cloth, how can you expect people to see your individuality? Unfortunately, the norms of civilised society prevent us from going stark naked, or we would have done away with clothes altogether and gone about trumpeting our uniqueness. Fortunately, there are ways to create the illusion of being clothed. The basic method is to discard unwanted bits of cloth from around the body, allowing YOU to shine through. This is easy enough for those living in normal conditions, but what about those who live in inhumane environments where people are finicky about smothering them under so much cloth? Have no fear; you can create the appropriate illusion, too.

Dupatta

Do not worry, by no means am I asking you to wear the monstrosity that covers you. I know how much it upsets you when backward parents and retarded institutions compel you to wear the ungainly thing. The answer to your persecuted cries lies in the right dupatta worn in the right style. By that, I mean a chiffon dupatta twisted around the throat or riding high on your neck so it barely shows from the front. The word ‘dupatta’ tacked on after ‘chiffon’ is meaningless: it serves no purpose, as it is too see-through and slippery to pose any danger of covering YOU. Twisted around the neck, it allows you to put on a frontal display which other dupattas threaten to hide.

Neckline

While our sisters of the first illusion (the illusion of being clothed) happily showcase necklines that plunge so low that they could expose the tailbone from the back or the navel from the front if they were a few centimetres lower, we girls of the second illusion (the illusion of being properly clothed) have to contend with higher necklines. The key is going horizontal instead of vertical; try out the boat or square neckline for your next dress. The square neckline is such that its vertical lines extend three or four centimetres below the collarbone, but the bottom horizontal line stops a few millimetres short of the armpits. The boat neckline is higher than the square neckline, but the bottom horizontal line takes so much advantage of being higher that it is an inch or so away from making your dress off-the-shoulders. Or you could ignore the front neckline altogether and focus on the back neckline, making it go halfway down your back, displaying your shoulder blades to perfection (that is, if they aren’t hidden by flab). Pure overkill!

Sleeves

Don’t burn up with envy watching people in strap dresses. You can also achieve the sleeveless-but-sleeved look. The eternal trick is to wear ‘cup sleeves’, your sleevelessness veiled by an inch of ‘sleeves’. The other, more popular trick, which saw much variation and diversity looks complicated but is actually quite simple. Just put your dress with full sleeves up on the clothesline and attack the arms with a pair of scissors. Ta-da! The resulting mangled sleeves are not only a unique design, but your arms show through from the
shoulder down (objective achieved!). If that is still too much cloth for you, consider cutting a slit in your full sleeve up to the elbow or the cup-sleeve mark. People like to adorn the sleeves with beads, embroidery and what not. Go ahead, frame those windows of skin as plentifully as you desire.

Hips

Some people of the first illusion don’t like spending money on something they can’t show off. Therefore, they want the whole world to know what brand of undergarments they are wearing. They tackle this problem by donning jeans, then letting them hang down at the hips to display their you-know-what. Boys are happy that there is a fashion statement that applies to both genders. What are girls of the second illusion to do? Don’t fret. Your fellow people of the second illusion are one step ahead of everyone; they wear cup-sleeves and let their shoulder straps dangle out at the forearm for the world to see, determined not to be left behind in anything. Just follow their supreme example not only to catch up with but surpass those first illusion girls!

Shirt and legs

Look at clothes of six or seven years ago. Longer than the knees, with a broad daman, YOU covered left, right and centre. How appalling! How did we allow ourselves to be drowned in so much cloth in this revolting manner! It was from the shock and horror of it all that we went full speed in the opposite direction. We never appreciated the elegance of the folds of cloth at the top of the shalwar until we shrunk our kameezes to microscopic size, displaying this work of art. Girls everywhere were rediscovering their hips without having to resort to jeans, but the less fortunate ones were left to wail over their fate: they couldn’t possibly create any illusion to don microscopic kameezes. People who were triumphing over this answer to cloth shortage had to halt their celebrations, because girls recently made a new discovery: they had LEGS! What were they doing there, covered and useless? Something had to be done about it immediately. Capri pants began mushrooming over the landscape. Again, the ones of the second illusion were fraught with despair. They couldn’t even wear jeans, how could they possibly wear capris? The answer presented itself in a dazzling display of East meets West: the capri shalwar! Simply hack off a few inches of cloth from the end of your shalwar or pants, and there you are! You get to flaunt your ankles and a few inches of leg like the blessed ones of the first illusion. Some people, nostalgic about the childhood era when they could wear shorts, end their capris or capri shalwars directly below their knees. At this new cloth-saving measure, cloth sellers went crazy. They were selling less and less cloth! They had to do something about it or they would go out of business. Fashion designers took their plight to heart and immediately came up with a solution that was palatable for both illusions: bring the kameez down to below the knee and end the capri pants an inch or so below the kameez. Females of the second illusion were swooning with delight. They couldn’t wear knee-length capris otherwise; the long kameezes compensated for the startling lack of cloth around the shins. So what are you waiting for? Head onto the surf and ride high on the newest wave of fashion that transcends both illusions.

A thing or two about fashion

Come rain or shine: THE way to be successfully fashionable is, apparently, to stick to your guns no matter what the conditions are. That is why you will see fashion conscious girls

i) persisting with sleeveless outfits in winter until further stubbornness might result in death from frostbite;

ii) hobbling around in uncomfortable shoes;

iii) skittering forth in pretty, useless shoes through mud, rainwater and/or cold, having their toes either mud-encrusted and/or frozen off.

Who said being fashionable is easy?

Localisation

When belts came into fashion, people with shalwar kameezes sported all sorts of cloth belts in response to this new fad; some were merely outsized laces serving a term as a waist accessory, others were meticulously embroidered, hip-adorning creations. Then people went a step further in incorporating belts into the traditional dress; a lace of any size and type sewn around the waist area of the kameez. The final result is not a belt; it’s not a lace, either. It’s just a thing; moreover, a nameless thing. There should be a limit to this East-meeting-West-and-spawning-ridiculous-fashion-trends thing, as if the capri shalwar wasn’t enough already. The same thing goes for the actual style where a V-necked or deep necked shirt is worn over a high-necked one, its local translation being V-necked shirts with cloth sewn behind it, aspiring to achieve the same look. Of course, my dislike of these particular inventions does not deprive them of the right to be liked; if people are wearing it, they must like it. The point of significance, however, is the inventiveness of our people when it comes to ‘localising’ trends. What will be the next thing to be localised? That’s the burning question, and as soon as someone accomplishes it, the rest will follow like the sheep. Who knows, maybe the person responsible for it could be you!

Mom, they’re teasing me

Once, after coming out of a shop, my mother asked, “Did you see that girl?” “What girl?” I asked. She told me about a girl clad in a see-through dress. My mother noticed her when she went up to her mother to complain that some boys in the shop were teasing her. I fail to understand the mentality of such people. Girls who dress up prettily to go outside and expect that boys won’t give them attention is one thing, but girls who wear risqué clothing and expect that they won’t be bothered is something else. Another thing in the same vein is females who don’t intend to show off their bodies, but are so careless about the quality (and by this I mean see-through-ness) of their clothes that they end up doing it anyway. Saudi Arabia made it compulsory for females to wear abayas for the Hajj, because of the loads of Pakistani women going there in see-through clothing. It’s embarrassing that the government of another country has to tell our females to take a good look at the type of cloth they’re wearing. A little care would go a long way.

Redefining appropriateness

Lining up to enter the examination hall for my O Level examination, I looked up to see how far the line had progressed to clap eyes on the stunning backline of the girl at the head of the line. At the topmost step, she was displaying literally half of her back to all and sundry behind her, wearing ‘coloured clothes’ because she was a private candidate. Wearing something like that to an examination centre is too much! Any sense of appropriateness of the occasion is lost on these people. That, or they simply don’t have proper clothes to wear. Perhaps it’s the “fashion no matter what” attitude; fashionables walking the catwalk whether there’s fog, rain, snow or imminent death from a meteor about to hit the Earth. Being dressed to impress 24/7/365–who knows, there could be cute aliens on that meteor.


Originally published in Us Magazine, The News on October 17, 2008.

Link to original: http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2008-weekly/us-17-10-2008/p22.htm#1

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