It was a little past three and like always I had come downstairs with a friend for coffee to the kiosk, adjoining the smoking zone. The beverage along with the condescension of the fashion faux pas of men and women gathered on the opposite, had grown into a sort of a little sport at this time of the day. There’s a faint line between being observational and judgmental and I was way past that. Now don’t ask me who made me this high priest of fashion in the ten kilometre radius, I can’t come up with anything better than “myself”.
“He shouldn’t be wearing such shirts, with lungi checks. The heroes from that era are either worm chow or onscreen grandpas.”
“Unless he’s playing a school PT master in a play at workplace, he’s got no business wearing those thick white sports shoes with formals.”
“He’s wearing a black strap watch with tan brown leather shoes.” -the nuggets of thought just float around.
Coming to think if it, I’ve been doing this for a while now; playing this sport. But I’ll tell you what, it doesn’t come from a space of elitist entitlement as much as from one of cultivated awareness. Agreed I’m an extremely sarcastic creature by nature, but over the years I’ve come to respect and regard the clothes and accessories as being a representative extension of a state of mind. A navy blue for a sunny mood, robin blue for depth of character, floral patterns on a holiday mood,polka dots to party. Thick checks when chirpy, negligible ones to mean business and a sharp fit for a solid first impression. These are some of the things I’ve picked up over the years from people I looked up to and the deeper end of my learning curve. It’s not robust rocket science perse, but colours, lights and predispositions interact in a predictable manner to create an impression or an illusion of it at the very least in a certain direction.
I’ve seen many turn up to an event in obnoxious clothes— even the ones who swear by the sanctity of forks and knives at dinner tables and the ones who wait for months together for a specific car color —without an iota of understanding about the appropriateness. Picture this- a dark-thick guy in a wine red shirt with disco ball depictions and embellished cuffs at a brightly lit wedding gala. Or another one at the same event, in a half sleeve T shirt with multicoloured horizontal lines running across and sandals from village movies about misogyny. While the formers subtle as a sledge hammer, the latter’s a slacker with indifference to his image from a mental menopause. While the first guy should’ve toned it down a lot, the latter should’ve dialled up a lot. The former’s clothes belong in a tribal mating ceremony, the latter’s dressed up for a casual zoo visit with an utter lack of interest. The sad part is both are nice guys with a decent amount of self awareness. Both use overpriced grooming products and get haircuts, the price of a flight ticket. But they’re somehow utterly naive when it comes to the fact that their outfits talk for them and also about them. And so do their watches that resemble lunch boxes with a golden dial.
Clothes exhibit one’s age. personality, grace(or the lack of it).maturity.depth of character and artistic preferences. At times from the foreground and at times from the background, their role keeps changing from one phase of life to another. In our teens and early twenties, anything that was in vogue would’ve caught our attention. We were gullible clean slates who would dress up in a way to highlight our clothes to draw attention to ourselves. Our personalities were at a formative state and it was safe to tow the wagon. So anything that caught attention worked for us- from vibrant colours, loud checks, hooded shirts to even comic print T shirts. These things were making our identity and an easily digestible ersatz persona from the foreground, as the real us lurked back in the background.
But with time, as we age and the personality assumes a vivid shape and form, we pick clothes that would highlight us and remain an ambient amplifier in the background. Flamboyance paves way for laid back charm. Trends get replaced with personal statements. Aesthetics comes before appeal. The equation with the wardrobe changes from us being the soda to the single malt, over time.
Not just clothes, everything including accessories like watches go through a similar tangent. The toyish looking G shocks digitals pave way for Citizen metal straps, which wither away into Seiko leather straps with a minimalist old school appeal. Even the art one consumes changes. Character driven stories begin to appeal to the sensibility over plot driven ones. Rhythm and beats become incessant noise, the heart craves for soothing melodies with specific emphasis on lyrical value. Personal conversations become more and more precious as generic discussion become passe. The proverbial boy has become the man and these things punctuate his transition.