Scenario: I am attending the wedding of a good friend. He’s a White guy marrying a White girl in a traditional White American wedding. My husband is in the wedding party. Therefore, I will be attending the rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself, and the brunch that follows. With so many events to attend, this question inevitably arises; should I go Indian, Western, or Fusion?
Rehearsal Dinne/Cocktails: Indian
Why: Sparkly ethnic clothes are good conversation starters, and I don’t have to be the one to start the conversation. Also, White Americans usually don’t know whether the particular outfit you are wearing is worn everyday or for special occasions so there’s no danger of being over or under-dressed. The outfit is so eye catching, I don’t have to feel too self conscious about my face, hips, belly or butt or any of the million other things I am stressing about. I can draw attention to myself and deflect attention from my flaws at the same time. However, this plan can backfire if it attracts the wrong kind of attention. For instance, at one wedding I attended years ago, the father of the bride said to me, “So. Y’Indian? Bet you’ll have a horse at your wedding. Or an elephant or something. Right? Ha, ha, ha, ha.”
Why: The wedding is the bride’s day. I don’t want to stand out too much from the crowd. I’ve already met people using my Indian clothes tactic from the day before, so I don’t need to worry so much about my outfit’s ice breaking qualities. My husband will be wearing a tux, and since there will be probably be pictures of the two of us together, I want us to look complementary. Since I will be drunk by the time we get to the real socializing, my normal insecurities about wearing dresses will be numbed (Is it too revealing? Not revealing enough? Does my belly stick out? Is my bra showing? Is my skirt tucked up inside my underwear? How long should I wait to change out of these heel into my flip flops?). Also, I plan to dance my ass off and Western dresses are often easier for me to dance in. I just can’t seem to figure out how to get down and dirty with six yards of fabric wrapped around me. What’s the downside to going American? Many of the guests who see me dressed Indian the night before will be expecting an enhanced repeat performance. I may hear, “If I were you, I would only wear Indian clothes, they are so beautiful.” There’s no quick and easy response to this one so I am risking a lengthy conversation with someone whose name I can’t remember, and who I never plan to see again.
Why: The brunch is at the bride’s parent’s home so I am guessing it should be casual. However, because they live in a fairly tony neighborhood I am guessing this crowd will tend toward “dress casual”. Dress casual is my most difficult dressing zone. In my mind it’s really “casual for the wealthy”. I worry that the clothing I wear will not match the designer quality Western clothes that the other guests will surely be wearing. I am convinced that designer clothes are made for slim, tall, White, women and have never been comfortable even entering the stores that sell them. Because of this, my style has tended toward the eclectic. I like to shop at vintage stores, Target, inexpensive hipster boutiques, and my mother’s closet. I mix it all together and get fusion! I will distract these well dressed White people with my cunning pairing of a hipster knee length dress with an ironic cat on it, leggings from a Indian outfit my mom just brought back from India, and some heels I picked up at payless. They will not be able figure out where any of my clothes came from, so they will not be able to judge me! What’s the danger in going fusion? I am not really that fashionable. Sometimes I just don’t have the vision required to pull it off. Instead of looking fashion forward, I look like a prime candidate for What not to Wear.
This question – Indian, Western, or Fusion? – is more than just a clothing choice. My own hyper awareness of race, class, and gender related social norms makes me feel like I am engaged in a political act. It’s exhausting. Maybe that’s why I find the idea of a nudist colony so very appealing. Indian, Western, or Fusion? It’s all me.