Fashion is such a weird and wonderful thing. And I speak with all the authority of someone who spent hours watching Fashion TV when it first launched.
Though I should also quickly confess that my watching FTV had nothing to do with fashion and all to do with the gorgeous international models and well, let’s say, slightly skimpy and sheer clothing. So as I was saying – there are fashion choices that don’t always make sense to me. I mean yes, you need to look presentable. But somehow I doubt walking into an interview in a crisp, new suit with a cowboy hat (as they sometimes demonstrate on these fashion shows) will get you that job. Unless you’re interviewing for the position of Head-trainer at a ranch maybe.
Though not a fashionista by any definition of the word, having lived in quite a few metropolitan cities, I’ve been privileged enough to observe some rather strange and unique fashion choices. Whilst I am not going to go into a detailed report of those, I must say this – Perhaps the stupidest fashion choice I’ve seen so far, is this sudden invasion of the low-rise jeans over the past decade. Also known in my world as either “Wanna see my underwear?” jeans or “Wanna see my bum-crack?” jeans, depending on the kind of (or lack of) inner wear. And sadly this “bum-ster syndrome”, as I call it, is something that seems to have affected both genders equally. Anyway, I digress.
I went shopping the other day. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Now, that’s not a statement that you hear everyday from a man!”. It’s true. I’m not so much into this retail therapy madness. Ok, maybe if I am shopping for gadgets. But for clothes? Meh. Unless I really have to, I won’t. You see, I’m a rather overweight chap (I prefer the word physically disproportionate or better yet, round. Round is a shape, isn’t it?). So, finding clothes that fit is, well, an arduous task. No, it wasn’t always like this. But my love for food, combined with a lack of physical activity and a rather severe hypothyroid condition which went undiscovered for several years, all collectively resulted in where I am and my shape today.
Back when I was in London, finding clothes that fit was rather easy. In a country, where even the average teenager had a much larger waist size than me, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually fell into the category of “normal-sized” people. So, imagine my surprise when I had to go shopping for the first time, after returning to India. I was quite optimistic to say the least. I naively assumed that with so many big brands vying for market share, they would all cater to the needs of people of all shapes and sizes. After all, the labels on almost all the clothes that I had ever bought in the UK, stated proudly that they were made in India. But oh no! I was about to discover a whole new world of shopping pain.
As part of this impromptu shopping spree, we decided to try one of the larger shopping malls in Bangalore. All the big brands were under one roof and surely at least a couple of them would have thought of catering to the needs of ‘large disproportionate’ men such as myself. So, off I hankered into the men’s section. A bunch of salesmen cautiously approached me with their measuring tapes in tow. “Can I help you, sir?” asked one of them politely. “No, I’m alright!” I replied, sharply dismissing them with a wave of my hand. Kind of made me feel like a king, that act. I was confident that I could find a pair of well-fitting jeans in no time. After all, I knew my waist size and height. What I didn’t realise was that my waist size didn’t exist for most of the ‘ultra-cool’ modern brands. Not one to give up hope, I continued to hunt and finally managed to find three pairs that boldly announced the waist size that I was after. With these tucked under my arm, I marched confidently into the trial room. Alas, my nightmare was only about to begin.
The very first pair I tried on never actually made it past my ‘muscular’ thighs. I carefully took them off and looked at the size. Yes, I’d gotten the right waist size. But what I’d missed was this tiny little tag on the label that said Slim Tapered. On closer observation, it revealed all kinds of details about the pair, the key one being – Slim through thighs. “No wonder they didn’t fit!” I thought. But then again, I was also secretly curious to find out who that rather unique person was, who had my waist size and such pencil-thin thighs. The second pair fared much better. It actually made it to my waist. The problem started when I tried to button them up. I tried everything I could think of – holding my stomach in and even clenching my butt. But nothing helped. And then finally – after a lot of huffing and puffing, like the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs story – I managed to button it up. By this point, sweat had covered most places of my body and I wasn’t even done yet. After another five minutes of unsuccessfully trying to zip up the jeans, I stopped trying. Huffing, puffing and panting again, I vetoed yet another pair of jeans. Or rather they’d vetoed me. All my hopes now rested on the final pair of jeans that hung comfortably off the hanger. It stared mockingly at me, almost daring me to give it a try. Wondering what fresh hell it was about to unleash, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, it not just made the journey up to my waist quite comfortably, but I was able to button it up well, without having to decide which bone in my body I needed to break.
Whilst I was standing there with the triumphant look of finally having managed to find a pair that fit me, there was a loud knock on the door followed by a rather melodious “Are you done yet Sid? We need to hurry!”. I smiled and quickly bundled up the “fitting” pair of jeans. But not before I glared at the other pairs that were now hanging off the hooks. “Jeans – Zero, Sid – One” I said out aloud as I quickly walked to the counter to pay the rather exorbitant sum of money for this single pair of jeans.
A couple of days later, my wife and I planned to go out for a nice dinner. I decided that this was the best time to cavort around in my new pair of ‘branded’ jeans that I’d paid a fortune for. Just like in the trial room, the jeans once again, slid up comfortably. Quite pleased with myself, I turned around to look at the mirror to admire my rather snug fitting profile. And that’s when I noticed that my boxers had made an appearance, peeking rather coyly over the waist band of the jeans.
Wondering why I hadn’t noticed this the other day, I did what any self-respecting man would have done. I tried to pull up the jeans at the waist. But no matter how hard I tugged, the jeans refused to rise enough to cover the label and brand of my inner wear. As I frantically tried to think of ideas that would help me cover this up, I noticed a tag on the jeans . In bold red letters they exclaimed, Speciality Low Rise jeans – for the man who likes to flaunt. As someone who hated (and still hates) the concept of low rise jeans, the irony of the fact that I now had to settle for these sort of jeans, was not lost on me. So what did I do?
Well, I did what any sensible man would do. I’m now the proud owner of a number of Calvin Klein boxer shorts. After all, the world says “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”. Except that in this case, “It” refers to an expensive pair of intimate wear.
Fashion is a weird thing indeed.
Words: Sid Balachandran