Yesterday, when I tried to wear a saree for a function, I realized the blouse didn’t fit me as well as it used to. Enter the safety pin, and some time-consuming unraveling of stitches to “adjust” the size so that I could get into the blouse again.
Once upon a time, I had a tough time gaining weight. Was always slim, until the years started taking their toll. It used to be that eating more salads, exercising more, and avoiding desserts when I could – could make the pounds go away. But even that is not enough anymore…..if I think of dessert, the weight starts to creep up. Yo yo weight and yo yo dieting….sigh! End result is an hour’s time at least going by in search of the right blouse, or ‘adjusting’ blouses that refuse to fit! And trying to shut out the negative voice and counter-voice in the mind:
You should’ve exercised more.
But I did.
I ate right too.
Then what is this? (holding up blouse, wagging it insinuatingly)
Well, I’ve been lifting weights and the blouse cannot handle my biceps and triceps anymore!
Waa haa haa! You my friend, are pathetic!
Oh shut up. Let me adjust the blouse! (furiously working with safety pin)
I do not belong to the category of people for whom shopping is a hobby. Am bored, let’s go shopping.…Not my style. I do not simply buy sarees for the sake of collecting them. Living in the US, the sarees get so rarely worn that they are as good as new anyway. Plus people gift you sarees when you visit them in India. You take gifts for them, they give you sarees.
What if the size of the blouse goes past the few stitches that help ‘adjust’ it a little? What if the wearer goes up or down sizes……?The blouse will either lie in some corner of the closet, to be replaced by one that fits better, or be donated away….
What a shame, given that some blouses are cut from the same saree cloth, many sarees coming “with blouse” of late? Or let’s say the saree and blouse are from a sentimental time…This is the saree I wore for my wedding or, this is the saree my family gave for my bangle ceremony when I was pregnant with my first child….or in a more somber turn of events, this is the last saree my husband gifted to me before he passed away?
A woman’s blouse hugs her body like second skin, serving as a perfect foil for the free flowing, graceful, breezy, flirty wrap that is the saree. While the saree can hide a woman’s imperfections and her moods – in some cases, literally – by covering her face, a blouse is prized for its fit, and an ill-fitting blouse will make her look worse: folds of skin sticking out under the sleeves, or at the back, begging for air. Her movements become restricted due to thoughts like this – what if I raise my arm, the blouse tears? Shucks, I cannot even breathe in this blouse….unprintable words come to mind every time one tries to move.
This is not so much a problem in youth but in middle age and later, we deal with such predicaments. There are days when one feels like a punching bag for everyone in sight and the only unconditional hug seems to come from a blouse…..feels like the last straw when even the blouse doesn’t fit ;D!!
Makes me wonder…..and like an engineer, I start to think of this like a design problem. What if, a blouse were to be constructed so as to become a woman’s second skin, and stay intact even as she ages, and goes through physical and emotional changes? The eternal unconditional hug at last!! The nice, snug blouse she wore at her wedding, if only could be stretched to accommodate a few pounds as she goes through pregnancy and childbirth, and life’s ups and downs? As she ages, the same blouse should have enough elasticity and tensile strength to expand and contract as she goes through middle age, and into old age when the pounds start to drop again for many.
Perhaps fabric can be designed to stretch and shrink with the woman, and blouses from significant and sentimental times be made of this material. Or have some special stretchable material in some places, with the rest of the blouse made of regular material? Say, strategic placement of such fabric around the blouse seams, that do away with the need to ‘adjust’ the size with a safety pin…..Even if the blouse is priced a bit more for this material, for special occasions, people may be willing to pay the price for it.
The design problem comes with challenges: if the material can be stretched far more than usual, then it’s got to be thick. Breathability in hot, humid places becomes an issue. The blouse may become heavy, and cumbersome. The fabric will probably need to be made of synthetic materials, so those of the organic cotton school of thought will lose out. The blouse should be designed for comfortable fit and wear – i.e, it cannot be hard to get into and shouldn’t grip one so tightly that it hurts (blouse made of elastic bands, anyone?). All of these are challenges which, with the right fabric designer and/or fashion designer, can be overcome.
If I was a fabric designer, I would not only measure elasticity, tensile strength and porousness (breathability), but will also define ratios, such as “Stretch/Comfort Ratio” (SCR) or “Snugness/Comfort Ratio”. We want something ideally with high snugness and high comfort, but with current fabrics these two factors have an inverse correlation…..Never mind, I went off the deep end there ;)! Suffice to say, even if I don’t have the design expertise I would love to be one of the beta testers of such a blouse. Will gladly write ad jingles and help market the blouse!
If such a fabric were to be developed, the uses will be manifold. Even snug-fitting western dresses could be made from it. Anything of sentimental value that one wants to keep around for a long time…..will now be created with this fabric. Every blouse will have a story to tell from then on, and be around enough to tell it!
Choli mein dil hai mera, chunri mein dil hai mera
Ye dil mein doongi mere yaar ko, pyar ko!