Between being overdressed and underdressed for an occasion, I unhesitatingly always choose the latter. Of course, this owes itself primarily to my penchant for being bone lazy and not having the wherewithal to coordinate outfit to shoes to bag to make up to jewellery to hair and all the infinite things that some people manage to do so very well, that when they finally do step out, with their hair immaculately coiffed and their outfit colour tone coded to their shoes and hand bags, they manage to make most folk in their immediate vicinity look like grubby little root vegetables just pulled out of the soil.
The other day I went for an event where I was part of the audience. Now being part of the audience is a good thing. You can fall off to sleep, if you are careful enough to keep your snoring under permissible decibel limits and not drool on the shoulder of the unfortunate seated next to you. If you are lucky enough to bag seats far away from the stage, you might just be able to catch up with your sleep deficit with none the wiser. Also, if you are someone like me, who needs a pitch dark, sound proofed room, to be able to slide into slumber land, you can catch up on your correspondence or on long neglected friendships through convenient instant messaging services which were created just for times like this when you are trapped in an audience where you must spend a couple of hours, and cannot slink off midway, being land locked by grim looking pensioners who might probably squeal murder if your stilettos made contact with their toes. The best part of being part of the audience is you don’t have to be bothered about what you are wearing as long as you don’t offend sensitivities, or risk being hauled off to the locker for being an assault on public aesthetics. The second is debatable though, given some things people wear in public, which include short kurtis with skin coloured jeggings, which in the bright, unforgiving light of day, can make people with sensitive dispositions need to be led away to a quiet corner, where they can have their nervous breakdowns without an audience.
I was in the audience, dressed, in acceptable public mode in long cotton kurta and leggings, having ditched the jeans in my token attempt at formality. I was in the minority of one. The women around me were resplendent in silks and nets and brocade and zari and gota kinaraas and latkans on the backs of their very seductive blouses. I felt completely at home. I’ve been known to do this before. I’ve worn a cotton chikan salwar kameez to a wedding at a five star hotel, a pair of jeans and an embroidered kurti to a family wedding. And trousers and a brocade jacket to another very formal do. I’ve also put myself into a fancy saree with the works if I felt up to it, but those occasions are few and far between and very often comfort and laziness scores over my willingness to truss myself up into formal wear.
I realise I sometime embarrass the child when he decrees he will decide what I will wear, and picks out outfits he considers suitable wear, when we have to step out together. Sometimes I even listen to what he suggests, and he must have a good eye before the ensemble has always drawn compliments. Luckily, I am in a profession where I have complete leeway to dress as I please and be considered eccentric and pretend I bring more to the table than mere appearance and get away with it. Sometimes I think I could do the Helena Bonham Carter look in the Harry Potter books and get away with it if I write a grim enough book to match.
As I see it, heaven would be when I could make public appearances in track pants and fluffy bunny slippers. In fact, I think one of the primary reasons for me becoming a recluse is the infinite boriyat of spit polishing oneself for public consumption. There was something in that pyjama suit evening wear trend that I completely got, but before I could put it to test in my social life, it fizzled out. I don’t think the mater would be quite forgiving of that one though, however indulgently she may smile when I resolutely pull on jeans for formal events. There is dressing down and there is dressing down. And I’m not going to risk dressing down so much that I get a dressing down that would puncture my eardrums.