Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 07/30/04 3:09 PM

Humour: Skirting the issue

Chasing fashion trends can be a fruitless activity sometimes, finds Sheila Kumar. 

If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t have believed it possible.

As every woman in the country knows, ankle-length, gathered skirts have become the flavour of the season. Well, I’m not one to succumb to the trends of the moment usually but now I felt a sudden yearning to acquire one or two of these items which, to me, seemed to blend a neat mix of style and comfort.

No problem, I thought to myself, all of Bangalore will be packed with the fashion staple du jour.

First I went to a popular Rajasthani store in town and bingo, it was success at first sight. There was a set of long flouncy skirts, some with gold butas on the gathers, all in the vibrant colours associated with that desert state.

Picking a few, I held them up to my body only to find that all of them were shorter than the required regulation length. A little more scouting and I found a deep red skirt which seemed the right length and kept it aside, while I headed in to the next room to look for more skirts. I wasn’t going to the first one that looked good, no siree.

Well, when I came back, dear reader, it was to find the skirt gone. My stricken query met with an equally stricken reply. “Oh, but a customer just bought that skirt, madam. You didn’t ask us to hold it for you.” That was true, I hadn’t.

My next trawl involved Commercial Street, but of course. Up and down the street I went before it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to get what I was looking for. Oh, there were long skirts aplenty. In the basement bargain shops they were mostly in hideous colours and tacky styles.

Reds mixed boldly and unwisely with sunset oranges, which merged brassily with deep purples, all reminiscent of the punk-grunge era. Some skirts had flounces, tiers and elaborate ruffs all on one garment. Some horrors ended in lace trims.

It was time to hit the big name clothing stores and the malls. The mall on MG Road was all sold out on long skirts. The mall everyone hung out at, in Koramangala, was all sold out of the same, barring a hideous one in mud brown. Not a chic earth shade, mind you, but the colour of mud after copious rains and a couple of rock slides.

Then I hit the branded stores dotted all over Bangalore city. One by one, I’d walk in, head for the skirts section, find the racks empty and enquire, only to be told they were all out of stock.

One store had a few skirts and I rushed to gather them to my bosom only to realise they were mini versions of the long skirt. Now, there were limits to my fashion obsession, so I stopped short at inflicting my gams on the unsuspecting denizens of Bangalore.

It was clear all of Bangalore was buying up long skirts by the dozens, by the racks, by the armful. But the mystery was, not one of these skirts could be seen on any lass, anywhere on the streets of the city, in its pubs or eateries.

Not even in the cinema theatres, not at plays held at Chowdiah. What was happening? Who was buying the skirts like they were an investment for lean, long skirt-less times ahead? The question was beginning to keep me up nights.

One rainy afternoon, I got a call from a friend who was in a clothes store on the outskirts of the city. “There are two long skirts, both in blue,” she shrieked, and believe me when I tell you, I broke all records in getting there.

The first skirt was asymmetrical and a perfect fit for a 12-year-old waif. I wasn’t radical enough or er, slim enough for it.

The second seemed ideal and I was about to ask the store to pack it up for me when I noticed there was a small yellow stain on the front. Small but noticeable. Another one bites the dust.

Back home, I walked in through the front door to find my nieces playing with my mother’s satin underskirts from another era. The skirts were long with flounces and even eyelet ribbon work on some.

They were in shades of azure blue, candy pink and old gold, a vastly improved version of what I have been frantically searching for.

Now, if only I can get them away from the pint-sized fashion plates who have currently appropriated them.

This ran in DECCAN HERALD of 30 July 2004.

humourskirt lengthsskirts

Sheila Kumar • July 30, 2004

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