Defining individual style

Fashion is a major aspect of an  individual’s personality. One can use their outward appearance to express oneself, for example  darker shades for when they feel gloomy and lighter shades for when they feel cheerful.  Although, for some individuals, how they dress might not be a big deal, but for others it is an  art form. Whether they prioritize comfortable over gaudy, or modest over bold, one can be  fashionable while still staying true to their style. This is seen among university students in  Dhaka, where they have more freedom to dress how they want. 

A beautiful thing about fashion or individual style is, that there is no right or wrong. After speaking to a number  of people, each has defined their styles in their own unique way. Neelmoni, a student from  BRAC University, prefers to wear light and casual clothes in the hot and humid climate of  Dhaka. A simple T-shirt and jeans allows her to look chic while also being able to more freely  and feel the occasional summer breeze on her skin. She finds that cheaper alternatives best suit  her needs, as places like New Market offer an immense variety of collections. Even though  these places do not have the best environment, they still provide the satisfaction of coming  home and going through your haul of interesting finds that would probably not be available  elsewhere. On the other hand, for some individuals, every occasion is an opportunity to dress  their best. Another university student, Alif, says that it is important for him to portray who he  is through what he wears, whether it is a casual meet-up with friends or an important event.  Even those who wear religious head scarves willingly still partake in dressing fashionably. The  head scarf is not seen as a restriction, but rather as a part of their wardrobe. The different ways  it is worn also becomes unique to each individual and their style. These individuals have very  distinct tastes but are comfortable in what they wear and allow their wardrobe to be defined by  who they are. 

Images: Tahmid Islam

However, personal style can also be developed from taking inspiration from elsewhere. There  are numerous places to draw fashion or style inspirations from, starting from social media to one’s  surroundings. The way Tahmid, a student from AIUB, puts it is that his clothes give an idea of  his room. He likes his room to be light and clean so his wardrobe inspires many pastel pieces  with clean designs. Celebrities are also a major influence in how we wear our clothes. So, for  Alif, his fashion inspiration comes from his favourite musicians. Lately, most people’s style is  inspired by Korean and Japanese trends due to a rise in these country’s media in Bangladesh.  Similarly, many trends from past decades such as the 90s, 80s and even 70s have been adopted  by people’s wardrobes today. Flared jeans and bell bottom sleeves, bandanas and scrunchies,  are all part of current trends. These trends are constantly changing each year, and due to the  lack of movement in recent times, university students are not able to showcase their recent  wardrobes properly. Previously when each day on campus would have been an opportunity to  dress up, it is now replaced by the occasional gathering of friends.

Images: Tahmid Islam

In a myriad of Western cultures being adopted as our own, our traditional aesthetics are not  forgotten. A mother’s or grandmother’s closet allows one to peak into the trends and styles of  previous generations. Even though Western clothes are much less of a hassle, women still  savours the occasions they can go out in their favourite sari. Wearing their mother’s sari makes  the occasion feel that much more special, as she hastens to grab as many safety pins and make  the perfect pleats. Men also reserve their panjabis for special events and holidays, as less and  less people are seen including it in their streetwear. The rarity of cultural garments being worn  everyday might be a good thing in some perspectives. During Bengali holidays, such as  Noboborsho and Basanta Utsav, vibrant colours were seen on campus as everyone was draped  in their most colourful saris and panjabis. Our traditional attire portrays a timeless elegance,  where a casual jeans clad individual is suddenly transformed into something more divine. 

On the contrary, living in a conservative environment does pose some restrictions on fashion.  Some individuals might be comfortable in clothing that shows slightly more skin than usual,  however parents are not usually comfortable with it. This might come from the parent’s  religious beliefs or their general concern for their child’s safety. An unfortunate but very real  situation is that it may be dangerous to dress a certain way in certain places because of all the  unwanted glances. Neelmoni overcomes this issue by draping a scarf over her and taking it off  when she finds herself in a safer area. Therefore, the restrictions parents impose on their  children concerning their clothing creates a divide between some individuals and their parents,  but it is important to know that they are only worried and want their children to be safe. Even  so, people do not find comfort in what they want to wear because of genders assigned to clothes  and colours. Men wearing pink are considered ‘girly’ or if they want to wear accessories, it is  considered inappropriate and indecent. We should try to lift the genders that we have assigned  to pieces of clothing so that fashion can be inclusive to everyone, no matter who they are and  what they want to wear. 

Photo: Farhana Fabin

Everyone should be allowed to have the freedom to express themselves however they want  through their clothes, even if it means breaking gender boundaries. Experimenting and trying  different aesthetics empowers one to find the style they would be most comfortable in. From  the dark grunge aesthetic to the light and floral ‘cottagecore’ aesthetic, people have been trying  out different trends and changing their style accordingly. When the city goes back to normalcy,  they will hopefully once again be able to showcase their wardrobe on a daily basis.

Author Tasnia Naureen

Photo: Tahmid Islam