Fashion Saga of Indian Politics

What you wear gives an outlook of your personality to others. There are various meanings people draw out from the fabric you wear, the patterns you sport, and the design you flaunt.

This is why it is very important for politicians to shrewdly choose their OOTD. Wear anything simple and humble and you will attract comparison of Gandhian levels; wear anything flashy or flamboyant and you would make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Over the years, key political figures have typified how an average Indian politician should look—men in white kurtas and women in simple handloom sarees.

The iconic white cap that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wears in almost every rally has its political roots in colonial India. This hugely popular head accessory was introduced in mainstream politics by none other than Bapu himself during India’s struggle for independence. Since then, the “Gandhi cap” has become an integral part of an Indian politician’s attire.

A fashion trend of big political significance was the Khadi Movement, which Mahatma Gandhi started to encourage Indians to boycott British-manufactured clothes and wear home-spun Khadi garments—another unique form of protest devised by the preacher of non-violence in the era of British brutes.

The Khadi Movement of the 1920s is an instance where fashion was used as a symbol of protest and helped leverage the demand for sovereignty by bringing homemade threads into discussion. Due to its significant role in India’s freedom struggle, Khadi still stays strong in India’s political sphere.

Another freedom fighter whose fashion sense has become quite the norm among politicians is the first PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru. The sleeveless, buttoned jacket Nehru sported throughout his political career, dubbed as “Nehru jacket”, is still prevalent and quite popular among the general public as well. The inaugural PM’s jacket is so quintessentially timeless that even the current PM has adopted the apparel, although with his own custom Modi-fications.

The idea of Indian and western fusion also has its traces in politics. Indira Gandhi, former PM, was a lady who understood how to match the best of both worlds. She was one of the first Indian women to successfully match tradition with trend as she sported sarees in combination with overcoats on many occasions. With this style, she represented the modern India which welcomed foreign culture with open arms while still staying true to its roots.

Where there are success stories, there are disasters too. Perhaps, the most memorable fashion fiasco that stirred controversy was PM Modi’s million-dollar monogrammed suit which he wore for a meeting with his American counterpart Obama in 2015. The suit had the PM’s name written all over it, enough for the opposition to accuse him of lavishness and narcissism—even he couldn’t deny the latter. Being the leader of a third-world country, it was probably not wise of him to wear such luxe clothing. Despite being a fascinating apparel, the monogrammed Modi suit didn’t make its niche in Indian politics like the outfits before, but instead came to be known as a monumental ‘faux pas’; one that Modi will never forget and one that his opposition will never let us forget.

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