A Stitch in Time

This dilemma has ravaged my poor little heart for many years – whether to go for stitched suits or ready made ones. Now I am not a connoisseur of fashion. I know not the intricacies of cuts and styles, whether this color would suit me or that neck design is trending. All I know is I like to wear something comfortable and something in which I like to look at myself in the mirror. And of course which earns me some compliments. However the dilemma arises from the fear of getting a suit stitched that will not fit me as it should, and thus conspire to make me look fatter or thinner (though that I wouldn’t mind) or a complete fool. Many of you reading this will agree that this fear is a genuine one, for many a beautiful suit material has gone wasted in hands of tailors who create something so gross out of it, destroying a poor lady’s dreams of looking like Hema Malini or Saroja Devi or one of those other beautiful divas in perfectly fitting suits.

As someone who has worn salwar suits for the major part of her life, apart from its variants like the mix n match kurtis with leggings, I have always yearned for a tailor who would make my suit perfect for me, without me having to explain to him its technicalities (since I myself hardly fare better than, “It’s nice!”). However, except for one decade in my life – 2000 to 2010 to be exact, I have not been very lucky with my quest, prompting me time and again to shun stitched suits and embrace ready made ones safely. When I was in school, I was too disinterested to mind. As long as I was able to get inside it and it remained put on my person without embarrassing me in anyway, it was OK. The moment I stepped into college though, the equation changed. During school days salwars were reserved only for evenings or holidays – most of our days were spent in the uniform. College was a different matter altogether – we wore suits day in and day out (other dresses like jeans, skirts etc. were prohibited in our ‘strict’ college). So wearing salwars, and wearing them right gained paramount importance. Help came to me in the form of my best friend from school. She introduced me to a tailor who was to become my most trusted aide when it came to updating my wardrobe for the next ten years.

Now this person is an eccentric man by nature. You try to explain to him that you want the salwar stitched a certain way, that you want the back of the neck an inch low or the sleeve half an inch short, he will go all out to convince you why you shouldn’t do it. Many customers of his have been put off by his unwarranted advice and suggestions and never returned. For me he worked perfectly fine though, for I would ask him, if something would work fine, instead of tell. And would be happy to lap up his suggestions. Probably the fact that my mother worked in the telephone exchange and set right his telephone connection once too counted. Still, I was very happy with him since he stitched for me some of the most wonderful suits I have worn till date.

When my friend first took me to him, he was a popular, but a simple tailor. A small shop, with an inner section where his assistants worked. He did all the cutting and shaping, the assistants put the pieces together and gave the finishing touches. Despite his caustic comments and sarcastic nature his popularity grew, and by the time I was out of college, he had done up the interiors of his shop, added shelves for selling inner garments, nighties and salwar materials. He had even installed centralized AC in that tiny shop. If I was planning to wear a suit for Diwali, I had to give it to him for stitching at least 2 months ago. On other normal days, one month was his usual period. Such was his popularity, but I wasn’t complaining and was always happy to comply.

However, all that goes up has to come down, and so he did. Gradually, after a point of time, I started seeing the shelves of his shop loaded with unsold materials. The AC had stopped working. The confident arrogance that he had acquired during the peak time had given way to a set face with hints of irritability. Once I casually mentioned about the AC and he started ranting about how it was difficult to find good assistant tailors nowadays for the money he was paying. Big fashion houses were offering better pay and drawing talented tailors to themselves, leaving souls like him stranded in the middle of an ocean of dress materials. As a result, he was becoming more snappy towards his customers, and keeping them away from his shop more than ever. A snowballing effect, rather. His snaps got to me too, for I started getting attracted to the beautiful kurtis and patialas and churidhars in Westside or Lifestyle instead of the same design of salwar suits over and over again.

However, even with truck loads of ready made fare, I can never say no to salwars in my life. So when it was time for my marriage, I went ahead and bought 6 to 7 beautiful dress materials, planning to revamp my wardrobe. This time I decided to go with a new tailor, for my trusted one did not have enough time for me. And what a mistake that was! The dress material I had wanted to be stitched into a patiala suit came out looking like a bag of sack that would fit 3 of me (and that was something, for I have always been on the ‘healthy’ side). The beautiful neck I had envisioned for a red suit came out as if its sole purpose in life was to ditch my shoulders and fall off to the sides. In all I had 6 pieces of my fashion dreams burst to smithereens.

After marriage, I moved to Pune. I continued to get many dress materials, but never dared to try out a tailor here. Instead, I would wait for my visit to Chennai to go running back to my trusted tailor and get my suits made. I have been carrying on for three years this way. However, since the visits only happen once or twice an year, I was forced to find an option near hand. Reluctant and apprehensive, I took my first step two weeks back – with a tailor near my home. A couple of days back I brought back the stitched suit and tried it on, with mounting trepidation. The kameez was perfect, full points to it. But when the turn of salwar came, it was a disaster, again. What did he have in mind, did I look like some one with an Elephant’s legs? Sigh! After all the fretting and fuming, I went back meekly today to explain him patiently that bro! you need to make my salwar pants more humanly wearable. He has shaken his head vigorously, and promised me to set right the wrong meted out to me. I am waiting, again. Hopefully I will find that perfect fit once more. Will I?

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2 comments on “A Stitch in Time

  1. Good luck to you, on your search for the perfect tailor. Growing up, this was an issue that my friends would often lament about. Fortunately, I never had this problem. My mother was an able seamstress, and she would sew all my clothes for me, skirts, blouses, dresses, salwar kameezes, even nighties. How my friends envied me. Today mum’s eyesight is not what it used to be, and I am beginning to get a taste of the tyranny of tailors. Nice post.

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