Attiring for attention

Till about a few decades ago, although fashions were not bestowed much attention by people at large, excepting the affluent sections of society, called high society and choice of fabrics was nowhere near what is obtained nowadays, citizens attired themselves mostly befitting their calling and, in a certain sense also betrayed their position in the hierarchy of their respective establishments, particularly in respect of white-collared jobs. Readers are invited to open the pages of newspapers, including this one, carrying articles under the heading ‘Down the memory lane’ written by regular columnists taking care to illustrate their highly readable scripts with vintage photographs. Persons in high posts shown in those photographs are invariably seen in full suit with neck tie. The teachers of schools attired in dhoti-coat-topi (or peta), as they always wore at work, betrayed their none-too-comfortable economic strength (!). The babudom appearing in the photographs of that bygone days could be seen in attires taking care not to deviate from decorum, while their combination of dhoti and neck tie never lowered decency.

Events that have been integral part of the land’s cultural heritage with mass participation to this day have a history of many centuries keeping intact the design features of attire worn by people of different faiths. Chapters can be written to adequately cover the details of both attire and jewellery specific to different kinds of events, including social functions and weddings.

Blame it on the influence of the ruling class of the colonial rule of nearly two centuries in the land and later on the fashions of the West unhesitatingly imitated by urbanites of the country in particular, trousers eclipsed the time-honoured dhoti, bare-heads dislodged all kinds of headgear, bush-shirt knocked out the ceremonial coat, pencil-pointed shoes, bell-bottom pants and so on became common place features. Appearance in public even as sartorial norms changed over time defined the personality of people. The change in attires and hairstyles (of females) seem to have gone wild, given the dominating influence of film stars in movies of various languages, including Kannada. Mercifully, those in some professions such as lawyers, doctors and even the priests can still be found with their attires not yielding to change.

The world of corporates, with their roots in multinational companies has not witnessed liberation in attiring styles. Hi-brow schools are keeping august company with the corporates even to this day. A recent study in the West has brought out the relation between smart appearance and pay cheque. Needless to say these factors, bearing on decorum, make or mar one’s work life, particularly in establishments of corporates.