I was born and brought up in Chandigarh, the then capital of Punjab and Haryana. For a long time (to be specific, until I moved out of Chandigarh at 22 years of age), I lived under oblivion presuming that Punjabi suits were an attire specific to the northern region. I feel like an ignorant idiot now when I remember thinking that we in all of North India were so influenced by the strong dominant Punjabi culture that we embraced their dressing sense too.
When I first landed in Mysore at the Infosys Campus, I looked at the sea of humans aka engineering graduates who had arrived from all over India to join their first job. It was then that I realised that Punjabi Suits were actually a rage among young girls from across the length and breadth of the country. No, I did not see any girls in skirts and blouses, or sarees (like I had seen in movies in various vernacular languages). That’s when the popularity of this super comfortable attire dawned upon me.
Later, as I drifted towards the western formals and business casuals, for my daily office wear, I always kept a couple of Punjabi Suits in my closet to be pulled out on special occasions. I remember, when during my MBA, I wore a rust-coloured suit with a Patiala Salwar for my birthday, the boys amongst my friends gawked at me and couldn’t stop sniggering taunting me if I was trying to impress my professors by taking up the decent Indian girl avatar. Jokes apart, that particular Punjabi suit had been brought from a retail outlet far away from my hostel campus and it had taken me a couple of hours before I could scroll through all the options and zero in on the one I picked up. Today when I go through the vast collection of Punjabi suits available online on e-retailing websites, I really feel bad about wasting so much time shopping, all those years ago. I would prefer to buy trendy Punjabi suits online now rather than spending hours in a retail outlet.
The importance of Punjabi Suits in my life came face to face with me once again at the time of my marriage. So the story goes like this – My husband’s father is an extended family of five brothers (I think I will skip the details of the five other first cousins who also stay close by). And combined among these five families there were at least four of my husband’s first cousins who were married. I was left staring at him in shock when he told me that none of his Bhabis’ wore suits. Or rather, they weren’t allowed to (I think I could write a book on ‘Perils Of being married into a Marwari Family’ then. Now nine years later, I can also write about ‘The Fun Part of Being Married Into A Marwari Family’). So getting back to my shock of not being allowed to wear even Punjabi Suits (let alone western outfits), I mustered a lot of courage to ask my mother-in-law if I could be allowed to wear the very-decent-covering-even-my-mid-riff-three-piece-outfit called Punjabi Suits.
My very progressive mother-in-law looked at me amused by the nervousness and laughed out loud, “Of course you can. And you will. I have been waiting for the day when I welcome my daughter-in-law into the family and break all of these rubbish stereotypes. You can wear whatever you wish to, provided you know what you wear where.”
That was some strong support and a lot of relief.
Over the past decade, Suits have gone through various transitions owing to the latest fashion trends. But they continue to remain my favourite comfort attire while dressing up on a regular day, for work, or for special occasions.
If you want to know about how you could wear your Punjabi suit to look different every time click here
What is your comfort attire? Do share through your comments.