I was always fond of watching Bollywood movies. Now, you may say that’s a common passion in India but, in my case, my love for Bollywood films had another angle to it: the clothes. I was obsessed with everything the actresses wore. It was something that I could not even imagine for myself. After all, I lived in a small town in Rajasthan, not the most progressive of places. Western clothes – and particularly short or revealing Western clothes – were out of the question for a girl like me.
My obsession only grew more intense as I grew older. The desire to wear modern clothes was so consuming that I would roll up long skirts till they reached mid-thigh, fold long sleeves all the way up till they disappeared inside my shirt, and take selfies in front of my mirror. But I couldn’t let my family see me that way!
I really don’t know why mini dresses enamoured me so. Maybe they represented a sense of freedom and boldness that my closeted, small-town life never had. It’s not that I don’t enjoy wearing beautiful Indian suits and saris. But teensy dresses endow me with a confidence that reinforces my inner diva. They make me feel strong and sexy. I find them irresistible.
A couple of years ago, I made up my mind: I would move to the big city so that I could wear tiny dresses.
After a bit of struggle, I managed to land a job in a fashion website in Delhi. My job role intimidated me initially – I hadn’t heard of any Indian fashion designer other than Manish Malhotra and Neeta Lulla, and hardly any international brands besides Zara and Levi’s. But I learnt on the job and managed to fit into my role soon. And I loved living in Delhi.
Working in fashion had an additional advantage: I could wear just about anything I wanted to work! If I wore a tiny dress to office, I wasn’t the only one. If I wore tight jeans with a tank top, no one blinked. If I wore a mini skater dress with high heels, I was complimented, not chastised. Slowly, steadily, my wardrobe expanded and is now filled with the tiniest garments money can buy – sleeveless tops, shorts, skirts, halter necks, off-shoulder dresses, denim minis.
The other thing I adopted: lipstick. From someone who was fearful of applying anything more than lipgloss, I am now fearless in trying out reds and pinks as if that’s the most natural thing in the world. In fact, dressing up every morning for work is the best part of my day.
I travel to my hometown once in a while, and though I don’t wear revealing clothes while I’m there, I have become more confident and experimental in my choice of cuts and accessories. I walk with self-assured steps and do my hair in new, fashionable ways. My family and relatives comment on how “modern and smart” I’ve become; they say Delhi has transformed me.
I feel proud when they say this – not just because of my new look, but because I know I had the courage to go out there and live my dream. Marilyn Monroe said, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” I’ll add: “And a mini dress.”
By Divya Singhal