I've tried on a lot of looks in my life - to go with my changing jobs, hairstyles, ideas, and personas. And never have I not enjoyed each of the trial room sessions that come with it. However, the eventual pains of window shopping are nothing compared to taking these appearances for a test walk. You're looked over from head to toe (critically by women, strategically by men) and measured on the rigid scale of propriety. Now I'm not a graceful person - I trip, scald myself and more often than not, cause more chaos than a grown adult should. My sartorial choices are equally strange - I can wear a patiala and loud accessories to work, a short dress to a formal do or denim and chappals to a family lunch. And then out comes the judgment. The fashionable lot will ask me to make sure I'm screaming luxury to fit in with people of consequence, the family will berate me and strangers will enjoy my malfunctions more than they should. I'm mostly oblivious to these, but once in a while I try to derive some meaning from these exchanges. If the pants are one size too small, I ask myself, why do we stay in the outdated versions of ourselves? If my dress seems offensive, I think about why a surface appearance can trick someone into thinking I'm easy. And if I'm wearing my favourite patiala salwar, I realize that the best and truest version of me always comes from a place of tradition. At the end of all these musings I conclude that I'm going to have to find these answers within myself.
There isn't a sense of deluded confidence at play here. I can glow in a drab dress if my best friend thinks 'it's so me'. I sometimes go through my old journals to see what body issues can do. And in their own way, my much-too-Indian family helps by telling me "you're looking too pale," even after I've had two helpings of jalebi.
I have a lot of overthinking to do, so I don't have the inclination to explain why my decision to wear a dress shirt can be part of self-exploration and nonchalance at the same time. Of course, I'll have to pull it down constantly through the day if I was way off about the size and the right length.
And I guess that is me - not quite settled in her own skin, trying hard not to look outside for approval, and unsure which curve will stand out in which dress.
But the idea of choosing to dress any way I want to, be someone new every year or forget to play by these rules, is the greatest freedom of all - so don't ask me about my short dress.
Juhi Baveja is the social media editor at Fashion101.in. She is into obscure poetry, movies no one sees and books only she can read. She blogs every now and then onwww.quicksilwr.tumblr.com. Read more posts by her on herFashion101blog