Sleeveless in Salem


I’ve always been fascinated with good, clever, stylish, ‘chic’, ‘open’ – but decent dressing, especially by the fairer sex. Boarding School life helped keep the pinafore School Girl skirts ‘always up’, in the mind, and as I rolled into University I naturally tracked the best-dressed Ladies (with a small eye leaning-in on the Gentlemen, to improve upon my own sartorial tastes). I still remember having kept a careful watch on the College catwalk and hold vivid images, to this day, of those that hit that beauty-is-in-the-eyes-of-the-beholder eye, hard with cut, style and colour. I recall, some dresses, on some, never repeated over a 365 day period! Wow – that’s a lot of bird-watching time spent. I wish we could invent a means of transferring these images to a Mind Cloud and then printing them black & white or colour! Glad, I successfully passed through College without having to tear-up my clothes, in despair over my marks!

Over the years, as I travelled all over India and abroad I’m sure I imbibed a fair sense of fashion and now being in the Women’s Apparel Manufacturing industry my dreams run wild. Fashion TV filled-in many desert spaces with Oasis’ of green and rainbow colours. One style that beguiles and enthralls me is the Sleeveless Top and Sleeveless Sari Blouse, mostly on women! While the North of India has seen and shows-off much of this elegant, harmless style, the South is fighting awfully shy – steeped in endless prejudices and taboos. The Sari-blouse, for example, actually shows more than it hides, yet a ‘sleeveless blouse’ remains an unthinkable garment to many down South. When I challenged many a women on why they should not go for it, the answers were pretty weird: My Husband will not allow it; my In-laws will not allow it; oh! what will my father think; no, we cannot wear such a revealing dress; my arms are too stout and will show-off much of what I still want to hide behind a skimpy blouse; I don’t have a Model’s slender well-crafted arms…list is endless. I even argued that if India’s first Women Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi wore sleeveless blouses (on perfectly matched saris) with such elegance and carried if off with knock-down style, why can’t you? Well, modern-day Ivanka and Melania Trump’s have heard me and wear the sleeveless with Donald Trump abandon. On the sidelines, I’m trying my best to get my better-half into one of them – without success and bitter failure!

In Salem, Tamil Nadu, South India, where I now live, you do get to see the odd sleeveless – is a rarity – but there is too big a Permission List to pull-off the sleeve. Maybe, Indira Gandhi would have enforced a must –wear-sleeveless Emergency?

This is just one example, and Women in the South need to wake-up to the wonder of a wonderful range of beautiful dressing – without inhibitions! Women’s Kurtas, Tops, Shirts, Tops and the kind look equally good without the sleeve, or with cuts & slits, and wearing them is an opportunity not to be missed. I trust the great Indian Culture, will provide the checks & balances on any misadventures or is this the real problem? Meanwhile, I’m sleepless over being ‘Sleeveless in Salem’.


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