Dress Up … Not Down

Dress Up … Not Down

Once a British man asked Swami Vivekananda, “Why can’t you wear trousers and a shirt and tie and look like a gentleman?”

Swami Vivekananda smiled and said: “In your culture, a tailor makes a gentleman; but, in ours, character makes a gentleman.”

Earlier this week we visited Blenheim Palace, a large country house in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It was originally called Blenheim Castle, and has been known as Blenheim Palace since the 19th century. Standing in the long corridor is a marble statue of Queen Victoria in ceremonial gown, complete with orb and sceptre.  What was most noticeable about all the portraits and statues was the amount of fabric women were wearing back in those days.

Image by Karlein from Pixabay

In the past, throughout the world, extensive lengths of fabric were used to cover the body. Materials of all sorts from velvets to silks and pashminas were in high demand and sought after to clothe the body.  Not purely for comfort, but as a status symbol.  Basically how you dressed defined you, hence the need for uniforms, regalia, livery and so on.  The people did not mind one bit being OTT, in fact it was a sign of your social status.

The message today is not about what you are wearing but about how much, or rather how little!  It’s about exposure.  We have moved away from dressing up the body to ‘dressing down’ the body, in all manner of ways. We have come a long way from the days of wearing 20 metres of fabric to barely 2!  This kind of minimalism has become an obsession.  It’s a race against who can wear the least … and get away with it … And have you seen how this tends to be targeted more towards women than men?

Image by Jim Cramer from Pixabay

It does beg the question though, why does one need to go topless, or strip to the ‘bare’ minimum? What are people compensating for?  Or is it rebelling against?  Revealing flesh does not make one any smarter, beautiful, intelligent, or more anything really.  Do you think that behind this minimalism of dress there might be an issue of self-esteem?  In true self-respect, one need not feel they have to wear less clothing to impress.  What has changed over time … from lengthy swimwear to thongs, something is amiss in our culture.

We have the saying, ‘dress to impress’, but it is not a matter of over-dressing, or ‘dressing to kill’, but dressing appropriately.  And it does come down to respect.  Respect for yourself.  In the olden days, perhaps we would have called this having some code of conduct, a dress code and dress sense.  It is not only attire that has changed but values; modesty in dress sense and the social mores of the past were conservative.  But with the rise of a free and liberal society, women seem keen to reflect this new freedom in their fashion choices. Today anything or nothing goes.

There is a time and place for everything.  If we are going to a holy place we dress in an appropriate way.  Who goes to church in a bikini?  What would happen if we did dress like this?  Most people’s attention would be on us and not the sermon preached by the priest!

Image by Jim Cramer from Pixabay

So, not judging for the way people dress, just highlighting that maybe we should give some more thought to how we dress because that will affect how we set boundaries in our relationships too.  If we want to experience a richness in our relationships, perhaps we need to be less superficial and less revealing.

The more we take care of our self-respect, the more we will take care of our dress. Maybe we need to learn how to dress for ourselves, to dress smart and at the same time be comfortable.

It’s Time… to dress in our self-respect.  We do not need to undress to impress anyone.

Image by Jim Cooper from Pixabay

© ‘It’s Time…’  by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK 



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Girish Wadhwani

Very interesting observation and comparison to how dress reveals our inner vision of ourselves….well written…

Harsha Raisinghani Devi

Very well said….dress up ,not dress down
Its really a need to understand that covering body is not a shame.
A lady in a saree ,suits or trousers are even more stylish than in short pants or mini skirts
You have expressed it sooo well
Thank you Didi ji

Amita Katrak

Very logical and so applicable to this modern world. Thank you!

Alda Watchorn

Growing in a Christian church in the 1960s, a dress code was mandatory as a Christian girl and stayed with me until today. I learned to be conscious on how to dress up without giving ênfase to sensuality.
In the present days of stretch pants and cleavages, most women lost their sense of self respect. Ladies fashion today, promote vulgar image of ladies and it goes from teenagers to moms and grandmother. YAK! A sore to my eyes when I go out.
Excellent topic. I will print it out to hang up on my community board.