Tag Archives: Fashion

Shopping Misadventures or “What was I thinking?”

shopaholic1Less often than a blue moon, my compulsive globe-trotter (and now, entrepreneur, too) friend Achala Srivatsa decides to kick off her shoes, snuggle comfortably in her large First Class seat, and pull out her featherlite Apple Mac Air to write a post for me on a Singapore – Bangalore flight, thus preventing my blog from tumbling into total insignificance. And THIS is what she comes up with.  

 

 

Every now and then, I will read these articles on “How to Simplify your Life”, “The Bare Essentials”, “10 classics every woman over 20/30/40 should have” and have an epiphany. Yes, I say, if I throw out all the non-essentials in my wardrobe, I shall achieve a Zen-like sensibility, that elegant, minimalist classic Audrey Hepburn look that will make other women shrivel up with envy and men gape in awe. I shall have only classics in my wardrobe. Tomorrow is a new day, Operation Wardrobe shall start tomorrow.

This is usually a very, very bad idea because as I sift through my clothes, I am confronted by the Ghosts of Sartorial Misadventures past and present, which instantly drives me into a self-loathing spin. Some of the horrors I uncover display a level of wishful thinking, which borders on the delusional.

  • Delusions of Glamour – That Ao Dai bought in Ho Chi Minh is a prime example. After two days of Vietnam, I was seized with a need to shop. Every woman around me had on these flowing Ao Dais that were stunningly elegant and instantly this voice in my brain went “Buy this and look slender and stunning. People will gasp as you pass them… go now…” I rush into one of those charming little stores with bales of lovely silks that are designed to turn your mind into bubble gum. Yes, yes this brilliant green is so me… maybe this subtle shade of blood clot red… I remember forking over the doubloons and rushing out clutching my Ao Dai. It was only after I returned to Jakarta and I stood staring at a long flowing garment in bilious green, that I wondered what had possessed me to buy something that only a colour blind Vietnamese woman with a 14 inch waist and a 20 inch chest should be wearing.
  • The Slimness Delusion – I will also invariably find one tiny little black pencil skirt, one pair of stylish cropped pants that are 2 sizes too small both bought on an entirely unfounded conviction that I can drop 2 dress sizes over the next 2 months. In my defence, there was a time 20 years and 20 pounds ago when I used to live in these things but well, here we are. These will inevitably be reluctantly handed over to slimmer friends 4 disillusioned years later.
  • The Trend Train Wreck– Every now and then I will also find one truly bizarre item and, after racking my brains will identify it. Ah, a reminder of the scrunchy phenomenon of 1990, or the acid wash jeans of the ‘90s (horrors!)
  • The Cuteness Craze – –which happens when women in precious pale pinks and corals and baby blues surround me. Instantly my mind flashes the message “Go Pink and look adorable”. Shortly after, one putrid pink top bites the dust – or in my case cleans the dust off my bookshelves.
  • Delusions of Tradition – Half a dozen ridiculously heavy kanjeevaram silks (bought during my pious swadeshi phase) that I now almost never wear. Full Disclosure – just did this 2 months ago, but seriously how could I pass up a black and white kanjeevaram – umm that I most likely will probably never wear.
  • A corollary to this is the true Swadeshi phase of the early ‘90s when my friends and I went on a Fab India/Gurjari kick. Shapeless kurtas that blanched at the sight of water and mirror work that blinded everyone.
  • The Crisp White Pretension – Every now and then I will buy a super expensive white shirt in the fond hope that it will confer upon me a cool sophistication – a feeling that dissipates like dew in the sunlight as I stare at the 3 turmeric stains on it. Damn you Rasam!!

The Footwear Foolishness merits a whole new page:

  • My Sturdy Shoe Phase – Black and brown Batas and Scholls of hideousness unparalleled, the salesmen swore these would be the most comfortable shoes I’d ever wear. In my case, I’d ever buy and not wear.
  • My Delicate Shoe Phase – As a size 7, really what was I thinking? The things broke before I could leave the shop.
  • The Sling Back Syndrome – 4 pairs of black sling backs and 5 pairs in assorted colours including – I am not making this up – lime green.
  • The Mystery Shoe – Every now and then I will come across a pair that looks perfectly lovely and go “Oh I wonder why I’ve never worn these lovely peep toes? Let me wear them today!!” 2 hours later, I stare at my bleeding foot which the upper part of the shoe has viciously cut into, thinking – “Yup, that’s why I don’t wear them.”
  • The Bling Bungling or the Metallic Craze – Three pairs of blinding metallic slippers and sandals all blinged up and nowhere to go.

I could go on but you get the picture. I blame most of my hasty decisions partly on all those size zero sales personnel who stand outside the fitting room giggling and going “ Maybe an XXL?” In sheer mortification, I walk out with as much dignity as I can and say, “No thanks I’ll take the Medium,” and walk out wondering whom I can gift the top to.

Meanwhile, let me get on with my wardrobe cleanse. I still need to figure out what I’m going to do with all my low cut sequined tops (The Diva Delusion of AD 2000).

 

Do They Do It With Mirrors? (A Mystery Of Agatha-Christie-esque Proportions)

There are a mere handful of people who have seen me naked since I gained adulthood. Yeah, I know that’s pathetic considering I have lived the life of a debauched single guy for many years. And, it is especially so when I confess that I have included in that handful, all the barbers that I have had rendezvous with during this time. Yes, barbers, because that is one breed of ravagers who have seen me at my most vulnerable. Them, with their shifty eyes, fidgety hands and obtrusive tools, chipping away at my soul one thrust at a time, and me, perched atop their chair, tender and defenseless under a flimsy satin sheet. With naked fear in my eyes. Ripe for pillage. And the subsequent shame, ridicule and ostracism that always ensues.

Barbers. The Modern Day Barbarians.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The other day, the sadomasochist in me reared his ugly head again after lying dormant for months. My hair had gotten too long and anarchic and needed to be clipped, nipped and whipped into submission. Within minutes, I found myself bound and gagged (ok, so maybe not literally) to a beauty chair at a salon called Finesse (oh, the irony). The perpetrator, who introduced himself as Brijesh, may not have been in leather but was wearing earrings, which was quietly reassuring. The man looked at me and asked me how I liked it. “Well, why don’t you surprise me?” I said. He was flummoxed for this was not what he was accustomed to hearing. He was a simple man with 3 simple settings – Short, Medium and Long. Anyway, he proceeded to give me an explanation that made no sense. As my blood pressure elevated and my pulse rate shot up under my deceptive composure, Brijesh Scissorhands went about doing bad things to me neck up. After half an hour of elaborate fussing, I must say, I did look like a human being with a real address. Well, for ten minutes, anyway.

Ten minutes later, I was found weeping into my pillow at home. It was the same old story. Was I ever going to learn?

Barbers (and I am including everyone of their ilk in this generic category – from the pretentious hair stylists and experts to the unassuming neighbourhood ‘saloon’/’parlour’ boys and girls) have got to be the worst clairvoyants in the world. How else to describe someone who has absolutely no idea as to what his own creation is going to look like the very next day (or in the next ten minutes, as my most recent episode)? And that brings me to a side-bar question – Given the proclivity of ‘Haircuts’ to fail within hours, why aren’t verbs like disintegrate, dissipate, evaporate etc. used more often in their context? For example, this is how one could use them in a sentence (or three) – “Jack screamed ‘I’m the King of the World’ as he left the hair salon, but even before Rose had a chance to check out his sick style, his haircut had evaporated. Jack felt robbed, after all, he had paid 5 whole shillings for it. Eventually, none of that mattered much because within the hour, his boat sank and he was dead.”

Now, while your salon-style haircut may have the lifespan of an insect, do remember that all barbers are not equally bad. Some are worse. For example, I am wary of those who are extremely chatty. They want to know everything about you – who you are, where you live, whether you like parrots etc. I am not quite sure what their modus operandi is. I suspect all of this kind to be serial killers. You know, the ones who would keep a lock of your hair as a memento? Those. Next time I run into one of this kind, I am going to make sure I take away with me every single strand of my chopped hair. Beat that, bitch!

And then I got tired of the lawn mower....and let the hair grow.

And then I got tired of the lawn mower….and let the hair grow.

Then there is the category of barbers who have complicated conversations with you about your hair. They would make you sit on that chair and stare at you for several minutes, inspecting you like an unsculpted rock from all possible angles. Prepare for impending disaster if they start discussing your “options”, much like a brain surgeon discussing a trickily located tumor. For example, a simple question from you like – “What do you recommend?” – could yield the following answer, with some swishy moves of their stylish hands – “I am thinking we should approach this from the top – give it a longish look from the right and a slightly conventional look in the front, because, frankly, there isn’t much to go on there. Then, some heavy trimming at the back to control the bounce otherwise it will be difficult to manage all that body. And the back should be roundish, not like it is now. But if you absolutely prefer squarish, we could do that, too, but we should really, really try to avoid that. Ok?”

Say what? You lost me at – ‘there isn’t much to go on there’. For the next 30 minutes, you can think of nothing else but that giant bald spot that is to be your fate by, what, next week? And then for several nights, tossing and turning wondering what to do about it. Olive oil? Multani Mitti? Curd? Milk? Hamdard ka Badam Rogan Shirin? Aishwarya’s 5-solutions-in-1 shampoo?  And, pray, who is “WE” for goodness sake? How many alter egos do I need to tip here?

Occasionally, you will be accosted by a barber whose first reaction after fondling you for several minutes will be – “I love it –so soft! How about I style it like Johnny Depp (or worse, Harry Styles)?” When faced with such a scenario, I urge you to run, not walk out of the salon. Don’t even bother picking up your iPhone and car keys – those trifles of your life can be replaced once you are safely away.

And more still

And more still

In closing, alas, I have no golden thoughts. If you have no hair, or if Hobo is your look, rest assured that God has been kind to you. The rest deal with this eternal question every waking moment of their lives – How is it possible for plain-jane-ordinary you to look like John Abraham when you are given the 360 mirror treatment at the salon, but promptly decompose to a Mayawati the moment you step out? HOW is that possible?

Next time, I am going to take a closer look at those mirrors.