Editor's Pick

Don’t our outfits reveal the most about us?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How often do we use terms like ‘fashion’ and ‘style’ interchangeably? Most of us do it all the time. But do they really imply the same? I’m afraid not. These two words might be used under similar circumstances, however, they differ in their meanings very subtly.


Whereas, fashion refers to the current trends and vogue, style is a relatively stable concept that is unique to each one. While fashion would highlight what are the kind of clothes, footwear, make-up, et al that are the rage, style is each person’s preference for clothing, lifestyle, etc. Style is highly customized to a particular individual, according to his/her body type, skin tone, and the like. Thus, when we want to use these two notions reciprocally, we should make sure we merge fashion according to our styles. When these two are united, we won’t be wrong on our part to having fashion and style as synonyms.

What is apparent currently, in India, is an incoherence between the two. We Indians are being carried away by the western countries and their cultures double quick these days, unaware of the fact that we are not able to carry the appearance as we are supposed to, in the first place. More often than not, we are negligent about the fact that the attire we are aiming to model is donned by individuals who are very different from us, having completely different body structures and environments.

Big screens as well as small screens play a major role in influencing the fashion we decide to wear. While the small screen is still making the ‘bahus’ wear traditional clothes, the men in both, big and small screens, are seen dressing up in western formals. In such scenarios, we waste all our energies on replicating these on-screen looks, however, fail to address that little do we know how to carry those looks. While ‘shirt-pant’ has become the bread-and-butter of clothing, more than 75% appear unstylish and often ludicrous. This is because we do copy the outfit, but not the style and the aura that has to be accompanied with it. This is true for both rural and urban populations. But, when clothed in a traditional manner, the aura, the style, the essence of the clothing, everything comes effortlessly, as traditions are something inbuilt within us.

Mass media and digitalization that has been swelling since the past decade, has kindled modernization in India. This phenomenon has caused India to leave behind its customary attire and indulge in modish garments. “It’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry. When in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room”- Miranda Priestly Several international brands like Lee and Pepe Jeans London had entered India long time back. But, the major luxury brands like Zara, Gucci, etc., that are existent now, have invested in the country only since the last decade. This is a result of media access and Bollywood influence. The interest in the life of celebrities has grown only recently. Thus, when these famous people sport branded clothes off-screen, commoners like us conform to their fashion sense, unmindful about what we want and how we appear.

Traditional clothes represent culture and identity. It is crucial to hold on to them if we wish to cherish and preserve them. If these customs are not promoted and adopted, they may soon become extinct. A highly appropriate saying that throws light on this fact is “When in Rome, we are Romans”. Thus when we live in India, why do we shy away from traditional outfits and take away the essence of us being Indians? Moreover “the apparel oft proclaims the man”, so why should we compromise on our identification even out of India? Our attire is the mirror of the society we belong to. Aren’t we supposed to make our nation proud, irrespective of the world corner we travel to? Besides, when people from abroad don’t alter their dressing according to places, why are we, while living in India, following alien cultures?

Furthermore, people wearing clothes ancestral to their homeland symbolises unity. A research conducted on this front showed that youngsters wearing traditional clothes, irrespective of western pressures had fewer behavioural and emotional problems. The reason given for the same is that when they are in touch with their ancestral culture, religion and traditions, they do not get into identity crisis and thus are not confused as to who they are and where they belong.

Be it an MNC or any other firm, traditional clothes can be worn wherever and whenever we want. It is a matter of being clear and adament with our preferences. No workplace can deny the permission to come in traditional clothes, if we fight for this right of ours. We are Indians, living in India, so isn’t it high time to realize what is right and what is wrong? When we can voice our opinions for our national anthem, our democracy and 101 other such things, why are we mum about our uniforms, that we have to don every other day. If given permission, I’m sure we Indians could be creative in our traditional outfits as well. We will also get to witness a colourful work environment then.

India today is like a mermaid- half traditional, half westernized. It is necessary to strike a balance between things, and thus it is completely inappropriate to set aside traditional clothes, and become a follower of western trend. Instead, why don’t we don the western attire once in a while, while dressing up in traditional clothes on a daily-basis? So wake up Indians! Let us take the Maanyawar advertisement seriously. Let’s not do anything on a Sunday, but spend time with our loved ones, in our comfortable yet classy kurtas. It is time to introspect and be the thread of change that our nation demands.