Ok, so this post is more by way of an olive branch to my son. Last night he complained that whenever he dressed up for a function, I `made a face’. Two days ago, he had to attend a marriage reception at the Corinthian Club. Since the dress code was `formals’, he decided to don his black lounge suit. Quite naturally, I assumed that a crisp white shirt and a dark tie would complete the ensemble. There’s a reason, after all, why all formal dinners are called `black tie’ affairs, ne c’est pas?
The only concession I was willing to make towards `youth’ was that the tie could be midnight blue, or even at a stretch, a fiery red. What he chose to wear instead, to the accompaniment of loud cheers and encouragement from his sister, was a black shirt with a light coloured tie. The last time I had seen someone do that, I told them, was the erstwhile Hindi film villain Jeevan – in a movie where his name was actually `Snaky’! So yes, I quite definitely did `make a face’!
There was a time not long ago when my opinion, indeed my approval, was sought on mundane affairs like matching ties (contrast with shirt), matching socks (match with trousers) and the like. Today, I am apparently `stuck in the sixties’ – so anything I recommend, the opposite is likely to be considered `cool’. But if your idea of sartorial elegance happens to be Shahrukh Khan, then I’m quite cool about being `uncool’..
One of the primary lessons we were taught about formal or elegant dressing was never EVER to wear a coat without a tie. Only lower division clerks in Maharashtra and under secretaries to the Govt of India in New Delhi did that. But lo and behold, you have grooms turn up for their own marriage receptions in a Saville Row suits – steel/charcoal grey, luxurious fabric elegantly tailored, but – woe betide me, sigh oh sigh - no tie!!
My daughter turns up wearing jeans that are threadbare at the knees, frayed at the hips and ragged at the ankles – and the pair cost a small fortune. It’s branded, she says, and quite the `in’ thing these days! I can only shake my head in dismay – her diploma in fashion design from one of Delhi’s more prestigious institutes - money well spent? Sigh..
Ok, so I once aped Dev Anand unabashedly – to the point of donning an ORANGE pair of trousers that he sported so rakishly in `Johnny Mera Naam’! And, like him, my collars never really knew when to stop. My ties have given way to cravats and scarves – but would you know it, these are now considered GAY by the Gen Next??
The other day on TV, for a formal function, I saw an anchor (one of these totally deplorable upstarts) dressed in faded jeans, over which he wore a purple silk shirt and a pink tie knotted loosely, with the knot hanging down to the second shirt button. He hadn’t shaved, and his hair appeared gelled if not actually spiked! Reminded me of the story where a kid similarly dressed finds an oldie like me staring at him, and asks “What you lookin’ at Pops?”, and the man answers “Nothing really – was just thinking.. I once made love to a peacock long ago, and was wondering if you were my son!”
Sartorial elegance? Sharukh Khan? Seriously, have we lost the plot somewhere??