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     Volume 4 Issue 14 | September 24, 2004 |

   Cover Story
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Straight Talk

Fashion for Beginners

Nadia Kabir Barb

Yet another cold and rainy evening in London and with the children in bed, I sat and did what most adults do when they have access to the TV remote control: channel surf. Having watched the same news being reported for the nth time and not really in the mood to watch a film, I looked for something mindless and entertaining and soon I came across a channel that seemed to be fully devoted to fashion. So I gave the remote a rest and proceeded to watch a whole army of models sashay up and down the cat walk in a whole array of weird and wonderful clothes. I recalled having been invited to a fashion show a while ago and doing the unthinkable -- yes I laughed uncontrollably when one fashion designer decided to make all his male models wear interesting head gear, namely oversized tea cosies! That is exactly what they looked like. In fact I can barely remember what the clothes were like as I had my face partially covered and was trying desperately to stem my flow of laughter especially as I was sitting in the front row. Supposedly this was fashion. A rose by any other name is still a rose and a tea cosy by any other name is still a tea cosy!

I sat and watched with growing interest what colours were in and what were not, what the latest "must buy" accessories were and a hundred and one ways of wearing a scarf. I was thinking that wild horses would not induce me into wearing anything that I had seen on TV apart from the fact that most of them were plain bizarre, my main criteria when shopping is comfort, comfort and yes you guessed it, comfort. This reminded me of another fashion event I was invited to a few years ago (for someone who is fashion challenged it is strange that I get invited to all these events). There were various people who were giving talks on style in clothing, hair, and personal appearance generally, and the business of creating, promoting, or studying the latest styles. At a certain point one of the speakers decided to choose a few people from the audience to demonstrate the wide spectrum of types of style of dress and how people interpret fashion. To my horror she picked me out and identified me as Category A. I felt like I had been put under a microscope and was being dissected. She pointed out that starting from my boots to my pony tail, everything about me oozed the word "comfort". For a split second I wished that I had been wearing a tailored suit instead of my "oh so comfortable trousers and jumper", a pair of fashionable high heels and spent more than thirty seconds on my hair but had to make do with the fact that at least I was colour co-ordinated! There were of course other categories, one of which was to be impeccably dressed regardless of how impractical the outfit or shoes were. However, I was relieved to hear from my dissector that we all have our own individual sense of style and choose to present ourselves in the way we feel best represents who we are and also at times the lifestyle we lead. If you have a high powered job then you may dress in accordance with your job and being the mother of three children, living half your life in a car and constantly on the go justifies the need to wear clothes that are comfortable.

Well back to the TV and I was being bombarded by a visual feast of supermodels displaying what style and colour of coats I should be rushing out to buy for winter. The interesting thing is that you do actually see people on the streets wearing, maybe not exactly what you see on the catwalk or magazines but a less extreme and diluted version. Most of us are influenced to a certain extent by what we perceive to be in fashion or fashionable whether it is at a conscious or subconscious level. Ladies are interested in wearing shalwar kameezes that are the latest rage or saris that have just been advertised as being an essential addition to their wardrobe. Green maybe the must have colour this season and by the next it might be considered passé. Men are tempted to buy the latest style of shirts or suits. For example, in the last year or so, midriff baring clothes seem to be the trend in the U.K. Everywhere you turn, you are accosted by a vast expanse of midriff whether you like it or not and not everyone, in fact very few people can carry it off. The label on the clothes should really have a warning saying "Please wear responsibly!" At the end of the day, it is important to feel good in whatever it is that you are wearing. Not just to follow fashion blindly and become a fashion victim


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