I just bought a bunch of clothes and for the first time in weeks, I’m feeling really good. I’m trying to focus on that rather than the guilt of knowing that this was stress-shopping. I’m not a shopaholic or a spendthrift. An occasional binge like this always causes me some pangs but that’s probably the reason why it stays occasional. So I guess it’s okay that I feel the twinge too, else I might lose my in-built alarm system that keeps me from going overboard spending.
Why do new clothes make women feel good? I know I personally enjoy colour, cut, texture, material and style. I dress with care even while going to sleep. This is a personal act of honouring my body and savouring all that it can do. Yet vanity is seen as a female trait and worse, a foolish one to be looked down upon.
So can one be a feminist and also fashionable? I know most fashion is patriarchal, showcasing women as objects of desire and pleasure to men. Everything from pocketless dresses (so as not to ruin the hourglass cut) to high heels (curvy calves at the cost of foot health) screams that the male gaze matters more than the female wearer’s comfort. The existence of the bra alone tells us how close to our hearts we carry this oppression.
I fight these in all the ways I can. I only wear ‘sensible’ shoes and I can tell you this has to be a conscious act of rebellion since Indian shoe stores do not like women with large feet who also insist on durability, protection, arch support and comfortable soles. I refuse to fidget over visible bra straps or panty lines, because these are my bonds and if I must wear them, I’m not going to do the world the favour of also hiding them. I challenge conventional notions of beauty and I refuse to be shamed by those same conventions. I’ve fought and continue fighting long and hard over the right to dress as I want – with authorities and with strangers.
Me a week ago. Don't roll your eyes at the future too much. That evening my mother fell down, fractured her thigh bone, had to be hospitalised and have surgery done. I found saviours who answered to friends names (@professor.shonku, @kavanchheda28, @manishalakhe, @sensorcaine, @balrajghai, @AlphabetSambar). I reconnected with my one time favorite relative of all time. I also tangled with distant doctors, angels-in-disguise nurses, unaccountably nice canteen cooks, an autowalla with an even bigger ego than the biggest muscles in Lokhandwala, a 6 year old boy in a stretcher screaming for his mother, a cleaner who decided to bless me with affection and a fellow patient who just said "Mala tu khoob aadvadat aahe" You really never know what life throws your way. And by equal measure, you don't know what goodies it leaves behind for you to stumble onto either.
And even as I say these, I take pleasure in male attention. Attention is currency and as a woman, my looks are my surest way of earning it. I also collect attention for my intelligence, my work, my art and my personality. But my physicality is the easiest, surest way to attract attention. Retaining that attention though, becomes a function for the other things I mentioned and since I have enough of the other things, this is an adequate model. To my mind, this does not reduce me to a glamour doll. If that is all a man wants to believe of me, that is his problem, not mine.
I am a performer and it comes naturally to me to dress boldly, even flashily. This is my personality and then all of socialising is an act, after all. Why not be a star?
I’m looking at the stack of shiny, lint-free new clothes I’ve just bought with my own money. I know I’m going to look really good wearing them. I know I’m going to pull in compliments or at the very least an admiring glance or two. I know I’m going to feel like the me I see inside my head – spectacular, bright and blazing forward. And finally, I know this is what creates admiration, loyalty and even relationship.
So, expense or investment? 😜
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Among other things, I’ve been discovering the joys of vanity since I quit my job and have had a lot more time to myself. It’s quite wonderful, caring for oneself and looking good-feeling good. Mr.Everyday, on the other hand, is determined to win the title for ‘Most Likely to Be Mistaken For Shrek‘. It’s not that he’s bad-looking…duh, not at all! But his persistant efforts just might win him that crown. The faded-to-unrecognizable-colour tee-shirts, the facial hair that if it were modern art would be titled Scotchbrite Tarzan, the chappals (chosen over a clean pair of sneakers and brand-new floaters)….yes, this has to take some serious effort.
So last night we had another one of our ‘talks’, which is just politespeak for ‘I rant on and on while he fiddles with the new PS2’.
Me: Please, please, please get a shave!
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: Please, please, PLEASE!!!
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: Listen, you know what you look like, right? Huh? Huh? Are you even listening to me?
Me: God, just get it, won’t you?!
The Boy: *Muffled yell*
Me: *Happy he’s finally gotten it*
Me: *Realization that he’s whooping over a PS2 win*
Me: Listen, you look really good with that French beard thing. Why don’t you get a trim now?
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: It’s been over a month since you got it and it’s growing out like weeds! What do you have against a trim where someone else does that for you?
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: One of these days I’ll find something to wear that you’ll absolutely hate! Then I’ll wear it everyday…for….for…a year!!
Mr.Everyday: You’ll always be beautiful to me, no matter what you wear.
Okay, if this were a comic strip, the last panel would have me shrugging my shoulders. Well, really, what is one supposed to say now? I know, I know, he’s thinking about it.
Did you know that The XX Factor was on Facebook? In addition to the posts that come up here, I also frequently link to articles of interest that I find all over the blogosphere. Style, dating, relationships, humour and everything else XX Factor outside the blog find their place in my links. Facebook makes it really easy for me to share what I read with my interested readers. But I realized some of my readers are not on Facebook and I don’t want them to miss out on the entertainment! So here’s what The XX Factor was reading this month:
- How do you know when a relationship is exclusive? (via Lemondrop)
- Bharatmatrimony’s witty insight on marriage. (via Twitter)
- 5 tired boy moves we’d like to see laid to rest. (via Lemondrop)
- 5 romantic gestures that will turn her off! (via Modern Man) Yes, you’re welcome, men!
- What is your dating style? (via Facebook)
- A schematic mapping a woman by her behaviour into every single media stereotype ever. (via Overthinking it)
- Do you have all the 8 types of friendships you need to grow as a person? (via The Frisky)
- Where are you on the Hipster Fashion Cycle? (via Republic of Chic)
I love silver. It’s so versatile! Rings, pendants, eartops, hoops, bangles, bracelets, charms, chains, necklaces, stone-studded, filigreed, engraved. The only challenge with silver is keeping it gleaming in a humid city like Mumbai. My open secret is to use ash (the kind that temples give you with kumkum; they’re available in stores if you ask for vibhuti). Scrubbing with coconut coir is even better than your fingers or a toothbrush or any other implement. It doesn’t scratch the silver but makes it gleam instantly. Drinking from a silver cup is said to calm fiery temperaments and promote good health. So, in a nutshell….I love silver!
Which is why, I found Hippy Holly & Simple Sally’s giveaway contest irresistible. The prizes are a pair of smoky-quartz studded eartops, filigreed hoops and a silver pendant on a woven-thread necklace (shown below). The challenge is to write how I’d wear them.
Here’s how I’d do it:
My current look is fusion with a lot of cotton/silk, Indian designs/prints on western garments and kohl’d eyes. All three pieces of jewellery fit the look perfectly.
1. The filigreed hoops are pure tradition. I’d wear them with my chikan-and-hakoba white kurta which is sheer and has a deep neck. I usually wear it with a navy blue singlet inside and team it up with dark blue jeans, mojris or embroidered chappals for a classy fusion look.
2. The smoky-quartz eartops, more versatile could look modern or traditional depending on what they’re worn with. I’d wear them with a full white chuddidar-kurta ensemble for a traditional look. For a modern feel, I’d team them up with my block-printed miniskirt, a white singlet and black jacket with embroidered sleeves. Alternately, these could really work with a plain black blouse, black harem pants and a dupatta tied around the waist like a belt. Or a plain navy blue dress with other silver highlights in jewellery.
3. The necklace would work with all the looks I mentioned above. Independently, I’d also wear it on a plain tee-shirt with jeans/ cotton pants/skirts. The pendant looks detachable so I’d also try wearing the thread chain around my wrist with charms (or a lighter pendant or two) attached to it.
I found this blog mentioned on Purple Peep-toes (spreading the link-love, as they suggest!). If you like dressing well (but not outrageously) and with style (but not necessarily high expense), this blog is for you. Holly & Sally’s blog, on the other hand, appear to focus more on accessories and creative ways of dressing. I enjoyed the Back to Black (well, almost) post particularly for its grey/black/blue themed illustrations. Check them out and participate in the contest if you love silver too!
If pop culture reflects the mood of the people, this generation is quite high on an oestrogen-and-botox laced cocktail. SATCmania is a phenomenon. I know I said I didn’t like the book much. The first movie was quite bad. Even the TV series that spawned the wave of hysteria petered out in a rather disappointing way (Alexsander Pietr what?!). I know it’s not smart, it’s not politically correct and yet I stay true.
The second movie is out and hits Indian screens in a few days. I’m queueing up for tickets as soon as they’re available. And this time, I’ve even actively looking for wonderful, fabulous, fashionable friends to go with. We’ll all deck up, wear insensible (and gorgeous) shoes, touch up our make-up every few minutes and scream and oooh in the theatre.
The last time round, there was a collective shriek from urban women worldover while the men struggled for cover. Well, you guys better shield your ears this time round. You’ve been warned. And in case you’re interested, here’s making sense of the phenomenon that has men baffled – Sex And The City!
5. The crazy costumes. SATC proves the premise that fashion is entertainment; humour, drama (even melodrama) and horror! From Miranda’s funny hair to Samantha’s bling skirts to the mother of all fashion screenplays…Carrie Bradshaw herself!
4. Priveleged whining – For the same reasons that a KJo movie is fun, for the same reason hundreds of Indian women tune in to the ‘K’ franchise on TV each day. Credit card overdrafts, catfights, relationship angst. The problems are magnified, too grand to ever happen to such mundane mortals as us and it makes us feel better that even Fabulous has problems.
3. The Old Girls Club. Yes, it’s bitchy, it’s sluttish, it’s venemously anti-male. Okay, modern female bonding rituals are still works in progress. They feel good anyhow.
2. Samantha Jones. She’s the ultimate fantasy. She’s bold, brazen, cares not a whit about what men think, is a great friend and dresses on whim. None of us could actually be her. Most of us have too much of Charlotte (prude) or Miranda (pragmatist) or Carrie (chicken) in us. But that wicked, whimsical streak in us all responds to Sam’s flash. Hooo girl!
1. Habit. The story has been done to death. Big-Aidan-Big-Aidan-Big-Aidan yet again. Gay men are either adorable or bitchy. Friendship lasts forever. Bad ex-es get their dues. Good ex-es come back when you’re getting bored with the current. Yes, yes, yes I know. But think of it this way. You already know the ways a ballgame can end. One side wins or the other or occasionally there’s a tie. And yet you watch each one with rapt attention. It’s sort of like that. It’s a chicklit saga on steroids. We’re hooked and we’re going along till the ride ends.
- A thing for chocolate – hot, sizzling, dark, rich
- A fetish for shoes – expensive, gorgeous and uncomfortable
- A love of all things khatta: Neembu, Imli, Amla, Kamrak
- Sex and the City
- Long phone conversations with friends and texting only for mushy SMSes, naughty SMSes, sweet SMSes
- Bacardi Breezers, Vodka-with-lime, Red wine, White wine, any wine
- Inappropriate crushes (gardeners, colleagues, bosses) at inopportune moments (board meetings, spring-cleaning, funerals)
- Chick Lit
- Lingerie – slinky, stylish, comfortable, physics-law-defying
- Lipsticks with names like Cinnamon Toast, Chocolate Drizzle, Mocha Kiss, Divine Caramel, Passionate Purple, Sweet Lily, Plum Heaven, Red Siren and Lucious Cherry
- P(re)MS-ey mood swings, P(ost)MS-ey mood swings, ‘during’ mood swings, ‘It’s bloody well not PMS!’ mood swings
- Guilt trips
- Shoulder shrug, raised eyebrow look accompanied by “Men!! Honestly!”