Fashion is associated with young people.Most of the fashion shows are eager to have younger and more younger models . My belief differs. To me, every women is a fashionista in her own right.
Think of your mother or grand mother in that seedhe ( right hand side) pallu ki saari with big bindi , long hair either tied in simple bun or long pranda wali “choti” ,bright kohled eyes and the beautiful smile, she was a fashionista!
A person not to be called a fashionista would be someone who obsessively follows trends. REAL fashionistas do not believe in trends. A fashionista is not expected to follow the fashion trends. She sets the trend and is happy and confident wearing what she feels and comfortable in.
One has so many platforms to interact with the world, exposure is bound to happen which helps in learning different styles and latest on the trends in different cultures. It also helps in creating fusion statements. Such interactions opens up different styles of clothing on the Indian street. (eg.-indo-western) We are not talking about ramp fashion as it mostly lives and dies on the ramp or once in a while seen on celebrities.
With more women becoming financially independent, they have become confident of trying dresses which are very different from Indian traditional dresses like sari, salwar-kurti or lehenga, choli with duppata. Skirts, frocks, mid-length maxi, full length gowns, capri, shorts, tights, jeans, pallazo etc are becoming preferred dresses for working women.
The major factor to this shift in style is the ease of wearing . Comfort is the close second. Other factors which influence choices to dress is freedom of making choices and confidence to try different styles . Many first generation financially independent women have taken this as an expression of freedom to do what they want.
I remember an interesting observation made by a university professor in 70’s in Haryana. It speaks volumes about the changes education and financial independence brings in.
Home-science college in a Haryana University was started to bring more girls into the fold of education way back in 70’s. Many promotional schemes were offered by the college to motivate people to support their daughters to study further. As a result, a good number of girls from villages also joined the college.
Women were always a suppressed lot in Haryana as society is strongly patriarchal. It was difficult to convince the parents to send their daughters to co-educational institutions, so a girls college was the best option , which a university can offer to change the fortune of girls/ women in the area.
In the new session, we used to see lots of girls with oiled hair tied in one or two plaits with ribbons from rural Haryana roaming in groups on the university campus in the typical rural dresses of salwar or ghaghra paired with short kurti with pockets and a duppatta. With in a week, the girls used to get the smartest and “in” hair cut. The easiest change that can be brought with minimum risk and financials.
The girls from the villages used to have their first haircut (generally a boy-cut) within the first week of arrival in the hostel. Next comes the change in wardrobe. One jeans and few tops was affordable for most of the rural students with one month’s pocket-money.
Within six months, the changes were very drastic and positive. The changes, which education must brings in. A confident women, who is doing the things which she always wanted to do but was never allowed. Few more months in the hostels and transformation was admirable. The total wardrobe changes and the changes in language, confidence and carrying themselves with ease was remarkable.
Many were my friends too. We used to discuss and laugh together at the changes they have been able to make in their lifestyles. The girls said they have learnt to breathe now. It was so suffocating back home, where all moves were guided and guarded by father or brothers.
Most of the women who are now in their 50s have been witness to these changes of more educational opportunities, work opportunities, financial independence , opening economy and social changes towards progressive trends. This generation was the torch bearer as far as dressing is concerned and has mostly paved ways for the future generation to have personal freedom.
Evergreen Black DressFashion and day to day dressing scenario has changed in cities to a large extent. We can see women in late 50’s and 60’s wearing gowns, knee length frocks or shorts. This self expression of freedom and “let’s do it” feel is still missing in smaller cities for women. The major reason is the conservative societies, which have not changed much in giving women the freedom and safety, they deserved. It’s the weakness of menfolks and failure of state’s law enforcing agencies in such societies rather than the strength of the women which curbs a women right to live life the way she wants.
Indian society is defined by sharp contrasts – ancient traditions and uber modernity. Today’s style is fusion of ethnic and western fashions. A gown in ikkat weaves, frock in handblocked cotton, short kurti with jeans or saree with blazers or saree gowns are examples of popular fusion styles.
A gown in Ikkat weave
Sareees have come again with a bang with young generation taking the lead. The hand-loom and ethnic styles have spread their wings to board-rooms, festivities and daily wear with elan. This boom is bringing joy and happiness to our traditional skilled people. Saree wearing is undergoing lots of experimentation.
Endless permutations of garments, colour and excess or absence of decoration allow individuals to explore their Indian identity. In this way Indian fashion produces tradition as much as modernity, which is one of the unique characteristics of our national style.
An A-line long dress in Ajrakh with mojaris as footwear.
Following the rise of Internet and smartphone usage, more women are now able to stay updated of latest fashion trends, and have become smart consumers who know what they want when it comes to fashion. ‘Unique, chic, personal and bold’ is the new style statement, and Indian women confidently demonstrate these traits with what they wear. Smart pantsuits, body con dresses have become an integral part of the corporate women’s wardrobe, while designer wear and high street fashion are slowly becoming the norm too.
Patiyala salwar with T-shirt and shrugIrrespective of how Indian women choose to dress, one thing is quite clear – they are smart, confident, and independent individuals who believe they can achieve anything in life, and what they wear definitely reflects that.
Indian society is very judgmental and nosy, more so for women. They take it as their right to interfere and be opinionated about the actions or decisions of anybody and everybody. It takes lots of courage here to follow one’s heart . It’s good to see so many women rising against such mentality and following their hearts.
I wish every woman courage to chase their dreams, while dressing up the way they want without fearing judgment or scrutiny of society.
Styled by Pushpneer