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HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Sathya Saran  (click here to know more about this blogger)

So, how much is too much? A question I asked myself in a rather strange place: a bank. I was standing at a counter.. waiting my turn when this lady left her cabin to walk up to the next counter. She was checking on some payment. Her clothes interested me: pretty pink kurta embroidered in white with a matching salwar. She wore her dupatta on one shoulder and it was of a lighter pink in georgette. My mind did its usual quick assessment.. kurta pretty but too long and loose for her height and dupatta on shoulder making her look affected. Plus hair needs to be tied for her type of face.

'Stop it!' That's what I told myself. 'She has a right to do what she wants.. she does not dress to suit your style!!' I obediently looked away. Then her bracelet caught my eye. It was gold with stones set into it.. subtle and old fashioned. It looked good on her wrist. Umm.. I could forgive her the dupatta. The hair still needed to be tied.. too long at shoulder blade level to be left open.. for the workplace at least. And she was at least middle level if she had a cabin to herself. As if on cue she tossed the hair back with one hand.. proving my point. The gesture suited a party scene.. would be out of place behind the desk she occupied!! The clerk at the till spoke to her and handed her the money she had come to collect. I then saw her hands. Her nails were of medium length and she had painted them a dark maroon. And over it was some nail art.. I was not close enough to see what exactly but suddenly I felt crowded in.
 
I've often had young designers on their way to finding their feet asking my advice. Students fresh out of design school.. they are flushed with the joy of having passed out successfully and raring to go. I have looked.. sometimes admiringly but more often with a sinking feeling as they carefully unfold a garment and hold it up for my scrutiny. More often than not.. the garment.. most likely a kurta of sweeping dimensions would show signs of being overworked. I use the word jokingly of course: the garment had probably never been tried on except by the mannequin it was fitted on. But the fabric had been put through so much! Every element from embroidery and sequins to appliqué and cutwork would greet my eye as the designer turned the garment this way and that to show off its swing and flare. Then there would be other elements like the ribbon sleeves, the asymmetrical hem.. Very, very carefully while hoping to say nothing to dim the shine in the hopeful eyes looking my way I would tell the youngster that it was good work but he could make an entire collection out of that one piece.. with a little effort If he took away the many elements and put one on each garment.. he would have an entire line. It is a mistake most beginners make. To put on show all they know. Writers, musicians or designers.. the prevailing idea is that simple is poor.. rich and textured is good.
 
Yet no one will deny the immediate appeal and instant style quotient of a simple black and white kurta by Abraham and Thakore or a lemon shift dress by Wendell. Ashish Soni's white shirts are something that I once filled my wardrobe with.. daring to wear what might originally have been meant for men because they were so simply irresistible. Texture and color, Sabyasachi's style or Manish Arora's style is wonderful but needs a rarer and more evolved sensibility to put together right! For youngsters leaning in that direction it could develop with maturity. Luckily most youngsters who are serious about designing and able to take constructive criticism as good advice do strip their style down to where it can speak more eloquently. For those aspiring to write.. it is more difficult to write simply.. I do not know why. Check out the cue sheets designers send out.. Their   dream creations are spelled out in long sentences.. the details in graphic jargons. And the garment, when it comes on the ramp, is different from what the words conjured up!!
 
Well to come back to the bank.. the lady beside me counting out her cash (an act which made her fingernails flash and glint in the artificial light) made me think of the young designers. Like them.. she was trying too hard. Her accessories were shouting for attention: dangling earrings and a necklace.. and as she turned to walk away I noticed she had completed the look with silver heels with some stones studded onto the straps. Yet it was not quite a lost cause. Her clothes were simple and elegant enough.  If only she would strip off some of the extras. 
 
It is a question each of us needs to ask as we look into the mirror before we leave home.. whether we dress for work or for a movie or a girlie party. The stores do offer everything from kitsch to rich and all of it looks amazing but whether it costs a million or a hundred.. how you wear it is what makes it pricelessly attractive. It is a lesson each one of us with money to spend and a love of shopping needs to remember.. A question we need to ask as we put our look together whether it is an evening out or a day with family. Just how much is too much? And how much is just right!
 
Sathya Saran
 
08-MAY-2013
 
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4 Comments
 
06-JUNE-2013 Aarti Kalro
Well said ! Elegance and restraint do not come easily to us Indians. We are growing but a lot of people still feel more is worth the money. I'm a designer and I have trouble with people who ask my "Why so much? it has no work on it.."
 
 
23-MAY-2013 Priyanka Batra
Thanku soo much for hilighting this issue , where I stay in a city like Delhi where usually people donot realise where To stop dressing like a Christmas tree ! All applause and respect..
 
 
15-MAY-2013 anu p.d.
Sathya ji! Brilliant analysis, of "too much" and "what is right"!
 
 
09-MAY-2013 niket mishra
ma'am it's very true: how much is too much?
 
 
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