By Ramjee Chandran
While we acquired many traits from the English, we Indian men have not been able to copy their sense of dressing.
In England, men are peacocks. While Beau Brummell may have redefined trousers, the British propensity to dress flamboyantly is still, in the modern day, a male preserve. They carry off two-toned shirts with loud cufflinks under unsubtly striped suits in the office. Those cats even rock highly improbable ties with such an ensemble. I reel from respect for them.
No amount of education by gurus like Prasad Bidapa have kept the typical Indian man from humdrum haberdashery. We Indians are comfortable with a dowdy, lest-someone-should-think-me-flashy outlook. For us, dressing to work usually involves shirt sleeves.
When I first visited London in the 80s, I busted out my grey suit from ‘Vedi Tailors of Rangoon’. (They said they were from Rangoon although I found them in Connaught Place, New Delhi); and under it a plain white shirt and a timid tie that whispered, “sorry for trying.” (I swear I scored British chicks merely by presenting an absence of challenge.)
And in meetings, I came to the conclusion that the English were classy; forgiving of indigent third-world dressers and attentive and inclusive and all.
Until I overheard this at the water cooler, “It’s all an act. He only looks poor, but I looked inside his jacket. He gets his suits hand-stitched in Rangoon. Rangoon, Burma!”
– Ramjee Chandran is CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Explocity