The Sacred Dress in Town !!!

IHM had written about choosing the dress, when they have a choice. And how so many women don’t have the freedom to choose what they wear.

That made me think from the angle of being in Chennai and here it is….

Do you watch these Fashion shows, where those skimpy models walk the ramp in designer outfits ????   Yes, in today’s world, fashionable clothes straight from the Fashion Shows are the most preferred.  And those designers who designed them, are made richer by a night.

And, these Fashion Shows are the places, where lingerie, swim wear, inner wear, night gowns, dresses for pregnant women, winter wear, summer wear – any kind of new design and texture is being launched.  Why, during the recent fashion shows, Kaftans were re-launched in style.  And they look Awesome !!!

But there are some untold dress codes, which we follow. Like no one goes to their work place, dressed in swim wear.  Or no teenager goes and gets dressed in those out of size clothes meant for pregnant women.

People generally go in for smart clothing, as the awareness has grown about fashion.  Stylish yet affordable clothes are being a rage.

But, there are people who stick to their comfort level and being stylish is never their criteria.  There are people who are comfortable in a sari or a salwar suit, anytime of the day or night.

So, what are comfort clothes for you ????

Each person can have a different definition on these, but mostly it comes inside the circle of the untold dress code, we’ve for ourselves.  Nobody is forcing all these codes on us.  These codes are what we make for ourselves.

But, being in Chennai, I’ve understood that the comfort clothing for these people is the Night Gown or simply Nightie.  My God, it even looks like that it is the National Dress, and totally adhered to, in Chennai.

Nightie is like the sacred robe, for the women around here. I am surprised and shocked by the use of this dress.  Doesn’t the name suggest, that it is a night wear ????

Ok, if you stick to the comfortable dress argument, yes, one can wear whatever they feel comfortable – please, go on, wear a nightie.

I am shocked when they try to put a towel or a dupatta on this nightie, to cover their upper torso.  So, if these find it uncomfortable enough to cover themselves with a towel, then why wear this dress ????

And this is the costume, in which one comes down their flat, to put their kid into the school bus.

If they feel so comfortable with a nightie, then why that dirty towel or a totally misfitting bandini dupatta on that nightie ?????  🙄

They come to fill water in pots, from the main tap, wearing a nightie and tying it up like a dhoti.  Is this OK ????   (There is water problem in Chennai and some areas are provided water through tankers and the people come out to the road to fill their pots with water)

Why ? She even comes to the supermarket dressed in one.

I see them driving the scooty, to drop their kid in school.

The vegetable vendor loves his lady customers in nighties.

You visit anyone’s home during the day…they dont wear saris, salwar suits, pant & t-shirt…they are all adorned in a nightie…so, its not a nightie anymore, its a daytie ???

I agree there is a choice to wear the nightie and these Chennai women have chosen this wonderful dress. So, isn’t it necessary to present oneself well ??

Why do we spend so much in buying clothes ?? Not only to cover ourself, but to present ourself in a pleasing manner to others.

These women roam around in nighties, with a dirty towel on top, but I cannot roam in my capris, jeans or leggies with a top. Isn’t this unfair ????


68 Replies to “The Sacred Dress in Town !!!”

      1. Pahhh CB *some All India gaali words here* you planning to get all the little left over guys we get on our blogs to yours exclusively with that DP?? 😡 😈 👿

        Ps: Next time am gonna post an edited back photu of mine as DP…hmmmpf!!!!!!!!!!


    1. I am amongst those who modify fashion to suit their comfort 😛

      But I totally agree with you on the relevance of our choices. We live in a society where everyone is expected to behave with a certain decency as far dressing up goes, irrespective of our choices.

      Wearing a nightie throughout the day and more so beyond the confines of one’s home sounds like a crazy idea. Moreover these women sound pretty aware of what others feel about it, that’s why they feel the need to add a towel or it’s like whenever they step outside.

      I support the point you raised, that when people choose to wear just anything themselves, then why raise a brow at what others wear (till it’s within the decency limits)


      1. Yeah, CB, comfort clothing is a matter of choice. If ppl are happy abt their nighties, dont throw scrutinizing glances at me…for wearing my jeans…I love my jeans, as much as they love their nighties.


    1. If they asked u or throw awkward glance @ u when u wear a capri, its definitely unfair 🙂

      Ppl do that with me too .. I just dnt care 😉 😉 I wil wear what I want 😛 Let them c if they want or turn their faces away lol 😆 Clean clothes definitely yes … but capris or nighties or whatever .. I decide 😀


  1. Nightie covers from neck to toe and has somehow gained acceptability all over India. Uma if I had to choose between wearing a 5 meters of fabric, plus a fitted blouse and a petticoat and then do all my house work in Chennai/Delhi/Kochi heat or live in a faded nightie, I wonder if I would have chosen a nightie/maxi/gown.

    I feel a loose, airy nightie or maxi or gown kind of dress is suited for Indian weather. We have too many hassles with skirts, even salwaar kurta or loose cotton pyjamas and airy T shirts, it’s like women are left with no choice.


    1. Thats what I thought first, when I the climate of Chennai hit me – the sweat trickling on the skin is just so irritating…so a dress (nightie) airy enough was a good choice. So, why hide it under the dirty towel ???? Are they so conscious of that nightie ??? Then why wear it ??? Being in a nightie, how fair is it to talk abt me in cool pyjamas and t-shirt !???!!


      1. Not fair at all Uma. I feel there might be some envy in these comments. I am sure they wish they too were allowed to wear comfortable, weather friendly, easy to manage and nice to look-at clothes.


      2. Possibility….becos one neighbour commented slyly that the track pants and t-shirts I wear are nice and that even her husband want her to wear such dresses. But she’s always in a nightie. When there is choice to choose, a husband who supports, when she too wants it deeply in her heart – then whats the problem ???


      1. ROFL, ladies….shant…shant….let there be peace in this world….om shanthi…om shanthi…oh swaru….ahem…om shanthi…

        But she’s my best friend, yaar….Poor thing, without proper broadband during weekends, she’s struggling to do her Nablopomo, in addition to being in this race….all I can do is make her feel good even though its the second place…. 😉 😉 😉

        And to top it all, I took the first place in one or two blogs…. :mrgreen:


  2. These women roam around in nighties, with a dirty towel on top, but I cannot roam in my capris, jeans or leggies with a top. Isn’t this unfair ????
    Somebody I know, who lives in nighties once pointed out that I did not wear “normal” clothes, meaning salwar kurta, saree or nighties.


  3. I am living in Chennai since past couple of months. Even I failed to understand people here.
    They will hardly ever pay attention to their dress, their looks, thier hair .
    They wear simply because others wear..Then they feel they take towel..still they wear..cause others wear..I am going mad..’s chennai 😀


    1. Welcome Prasad…quite impressive observation in two months…don’t bother about it…this is not going to get any better…so, its better to get on with life. 🙂


    2. Prasad I think they wear it because it is the only comfortable attire they are ‘permitted’.

      In Chennai humidity it makes a lot of sense to wear something loose and light. They don’t care for fashion but I am sure they make an effort to make it look reasonably nice, but since it’s used everyday while doing housework (cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, bathing children) and it’s cotton so it’s very cool, but also fades and crumples very fast.

      Ideally women should be able to wear cotton pyjamas and t-shirts or even easier to maintain – shorts or capris and tank tops, in Chennai weather, but can you picture that happening in near future?


      1. Makes sense to wear comfortable clothes like cotton pyjamas, capris, loose t-shirts….even nightie is OK….but I hate the Sunday is longer than Monday petticoats and that awful dirty towel or an unwashed / faded dupatta on it.


  4. Hehehe…so true!
    I think if people like walking around in a “daytie”, it’s fine. If it’s a completely black one, it’d look like a burkha. But, to cover it with a dirty “thorthu’ (not even one of those thick, multi-coloured towels!!!!!) or a horrid dupatta, is like mocking oneself!!! I’ve also seen girls wearing tight jeans and a tight top, and a thick shawl that covers all of it. I nevr understand why.

    If people feel comfy in a dress, i wonder why they give much thought to what others will thik. that’s where the towel draping comes from 😉

    I wear whatever I’m comfortable in. And it’s a day to day thing. Today, jeans might be favoured; tomorrow, i’ll be in a salwar. then a skirt…Honestly, i dont care what others think of my dress. I wear what i feel good in…in what I feel i look goodin 😉 After my wedding, a few aunts told me to stop wearing skirts at home…”what will your in-laws think”? I don’t know what they’ll “think”, unless they “tell” me. And when they tell, I’ll just explain that i like skirts…and continue wearing it 😀 😉

    So, what clothes are YOU comfy in?


    1. Priya, thats a good one which you gave your aunts. 🙂

      Yes, that dirty towel for namesake modesty, is the killing part. GGGrrr…..

      Wear comfy clothes, be what you are…I love jeans, chudithars, capris, the tight leggies with short kurta, salwar suits….anything, why, I love saris…even for day to day use…I used to wear only saris for a few years – no one forced it on me – I loved wearing it, then.


  5. Whoa! Your last line was killer! 😀
    Completely agree with you… Although it’s not just Chennai, I have seen this in many places… And these green nighty+fluorescent orange dupatta clad women come and give us lot an earful about the right way to dress being a woman! Double standards or lack of standards, whatever it is, I think they murder ‘fashion’ or whatever it stands for.

    Nice read this was 🙂


    1. Gee, thanks, Celestialrays… 🙂

      What strange colours…and top of that gyaan on the right way to dress…ha ha ha…so this sacred dress becomes the National Sacred Code, from now on, eh ….


  6. You’re so right! They look so weird! with the petticoats sticking out from under the shrunken nighties. Especially when they comment on how our jeans and t shirt are a ‘bane’ for Indian women. Che che


    1. Thats so bad, na…being so badly dressed, they comment on our jeans and capris…sometimes I feel like screaming at them – its you who is dressed so badly.


  7. 😀 …. Ha.. Ha.. Seriously in chennai every other woman seems to be wearing a nightie only as though it were a fashion statement… and more funny is the fact that no one feels thats a night dress to be worn only in the night time 😦 …. And the more funny fact used to be they used to glare at me when I wore jeans to college and I glared at them for their nightie 😀


    1. Its horrible na, Shilpa…so, this nightie goes a long way back to the time you were studying. Its yuck when they fold it like dhoti while filling water…how proud they are to show off their nightie….God, we need a fashion explosion here….


  8. Aren’t they gowns for days (the modest, frilled ones, with long-short hands) and gowns for nights (those skimpy, noodle straps in linen, shorter, deepnecked ones) 😀 😀 😀

    National Dress, ya! and worse than the nightie is when I see women walk around with a long t-shirt upto their knee (an XXXXXL) with a petticoat/underskirt.. u caught that!! Aweful!! 😦

    The first and last time I wore this thing called a nightie, I tripped and rolled down the staircase 😀 😀 😀 at my aunt’s. So I walked around like those villans types the whole day 😀 😀 😀 not to cause any more damage to my aunt’s sacred dress, her staircase and polished floors and my body of course 😀 😀 😀


    1. ROFL @ your experience with that nightie… cant stop laughing imagining the whole scene… 😆

      OMG !! That XXXXL T-shirt and petticoat is even more awful !!! When India is producing so many wonderful fashion designers, look at the dresses these women wear. Sad. Its not that they dont have a choice.


  9. Uma, this is not a fact confined to Chennai. The whole of Kerala is the same. The reason I feel is that the people who dictate in these matters of dress of women seem to have given tacit approval to the nightie (covers the whole body argument) and the women who otherwise are forced to wear sari day and night jumped at the chance. At least wearing the nightie while you work is not so ridiculous or difficult as wearing 5 metres of cloth! The ‘thorthu’ or dupatta is added to make the nightie acceptable, to cover the breast just the same way a sari does. Of course it is ridiculous, especially the tying up of the nightie like a mundu. I have always thought its so stupid forcing women to be in sari. We find that when they work, they have to hitch it up, especially when sitting down. Their legs are exposed. So is it alright to expose your legs in this manner?? Then why is not okay to show your legs in capris?? But then that’s a different argument. 🙂
    The popularity of the apparel (nightie) only shows how women are dying to switch over from an unwieldy sari to something more comfortable and for those of them who now wear it, this is the only acceptable change they were ‘allowed’ to make from the sari.
    I see ‘nithgtied’ women everywhere in Kerala. I have seen them in vegetable markets, post offices (especially in rural areas) and of course coming out to send their children off to school is common everywhere. What I find most amusing and irritating is how even among well off and educated people this is accepted as a dress in which you receive visitors too. But like I said, in such homes, this is the only change they have been allowed to make by the powers that be who decide what the women should wear. So I feel I really cant blame them. The best part is when I am at home in my salwar kurtas and they ask me, ‘Are you going out??’ Lol, not being in a nightie means I am dressed for an outing. 😛


    1. With Shail’s approval, this Nightie is being declared the Sacred Dress code for Kerala too, here with !!!! Is that fine… 😉

      LOL @ if being in salwar suit, one person is going out. 😆

      But isn’t this a bad way to show case the freedom that has been given. The shift to nightie, to escape the sari ????

      OK, even then, wear a good nightie, as you would go and buy a good sari. Be presentable. Does that mean, that the men allow them to wear nighties and not jeans or anything ?

      That argument abt showing legs in nighties and capris, is certainly a good post fodder. 😉

      I loved this lengthy discussion – shows what a subject of the heart this is… 🙂

      If people want change in their dress code, why not make it a pleasant one ????


      1. Uma, I used to refer to nightie as ‘National Dress of Kerala’ till now! 😉 But you have now brought Chennai too into the picture.

        And of course nightie is ‘allowed’ to be worn by the men and the more conservative of senior women in the family, but jeans is a big no-no!! Heck, 28 years back, my husband had to warn my MIL before hand that I would be wearing nighties…. at night!! Yeah they expected me to be in sari 24X7! No salwars, no kaftans. Boy, was I glad to get away to my husband’s work place!


      2. Isn’t funny, Shail – That the nightie too is worn only after being “allowed” by their men and the elderly women of the house ????

        Maybe they dont mind the showing off legs, while doing household work in nightie. But what’s absolutely a big NO is – wearing the Jeans, where it shows the shape of hips and legs…Sometimes, I laugh at the double standards we have around us…

        As u were glad to get away to your husband’s workplace, I was glad to be out of Chennai !!! LOL. 🙂


    1. What a worldly advise !!!! The only person around here capable of giving such fashionable ideas on women’s wear !!! 😉

      Or is it to hit ppl with karate kicks, for being badly dressed… 🙄 😉


  10. Ok am all set now to comment :mrgreen:

    Like Shail said this is quiet common throughout in Kerala too and I agree with her reasoning for this thing to be such a sensation. In my family, the women used to wear nighties (yup bcoz they grabbed the offer of ditching the saree) and you know what they did with it? They used to get nightie stitched in the most amazing patterns with beautiful embroideries. I have marveled at the changing designs, the expensive cut work etc that goes into it. In short, am sure when the total cost was calculated one such designer nightie would cost a small bomb 😛 and yup the nightie was teamed with matching designer dupata’s.
    So, they made it fashionable…WOW…. 🙂
    But the matching dupatta…Why dont they leave it aside ???? 🙄

    I wear everything except the hijab and nightie 🙄 The main reason being that I am such a clumsy person. If I don’t calculate and plan my every step, I trip and get tangled even in my bath towel 😦 The husband has stopped long ago running to my side when he hears a thud and an Ouch!
    Oh God !!! I think you’ve wheels on one foot… 😉 to trip in your bath towel… 😉

    To me it’s very important that I should be comfortable with what I am wearing and that I should be able to carry it off (not like those models if you are imagining a Sakshi on the ramp :mrgreen: ) I love clothes and trying out different styles. If it suits me fine and if it doesn’t I never try it again.
    Thats exactly like me…I like it…. 🙂
    Phew!! now a days the commenting is getting into me. I have no idea what I start writing and how I end it 🙄
    But still we like it…just go on…the more crazier, the more better…. 🙂
    Ps: Isn’t it funny that we admire the riot of colours a Rajasthani lady and yet get repelled by the mismatched nightie, dupatta, petticoat combo? 🙄
    Yes, we admire the colors because there is a pattern to it and they make the myriad of colors look pretty with the designs that go with them. Why ??? I’ve worn totally unmatching salwar with a kurti and another non-matching dupatta, yet made the whole dress look like that rajasthani outfit…but these nighties with towels on them and petticoats peeping out, gives me the creeps.


  11. Agree, agree Uma……@everything u wrote above 🙂

    Even here in Dubai when I first started dropping my child at the bustop I was the lone woman who wore a salwar or trousers. But by the end of the month around 95% of the women stopped wearing the dreaded N’s & switched to salwars 😀

    Enjoyed going thru the comment thread 😛


    1. So, this culture has spread its wings in Dubai too…am glad that you were able to convert ppl to sensible dressing Nancy….you deserve a big tight hug from me. You’ve achieved something extraordinary. LOL. 🙂

      Yeah, the comment thread goes on to tell, how close is this subject to the heart of the Indian women !!! 🙂


  12. The best part is when I am at home in my salwar kurtas and they ask me, ‘Are you going out??’ Lol, not being in a nightie means I am dressed for an outing. Shail

    Thats what people ask my mom. She wakes up at five finishes her chores and is fully dressed by 8:30am. Even now when she is retired. If someone drops by their first question is are you stepping out of the door?

    Oh my you should have seen the housewives/stay home homemakersa in Delhi they too are in the race. I remember our family friends Mrs. Murthy dressed in the nighties I guess she bought from the thela wala (cart hawker) fully stained with spices 🙂 .

    About the full body coverage versus capri or salwar Kameez: As a teen ager I had a big struggle tobe able to wear pants as my dad was opposed to the idea. He recruited my favorite aunt to convince me. She told me how pants outline the butt and it appears like buns for all to see. Her words 🙂 . Then few years ago I was working in UP interior a lady told me women prefer nightie to salwar kameez coz’ the later is muslim dress and your legs are clearly visible thus giving men ideas.

    Interesting comments.


    Desi Girl


    1. Salwars are muslim dress and the legs are visible….my God, what sentiments ppl have for proving that the sacred robe is more preferred. LOL !!!!

      And I am totally LOLing @ how pants outline the butt and it appears like buns for all to see…OMG !!! Never heard such weird description before…. 😆

      Love your Mom’s dressing routine…even my MIL is like that..and thats another thing I learnt from her. 🙂

      Welcome here…glad to see u here. 🙂


  13. sheesh 🙄
    yea i completely agree… weird 😛 ln
    I am shocked when they try to put a towel or a dupatta on this nightie, to cover their upper torso. So, if these find it uncomfortable enough to cover themselves with a towel, then why wear this dress ????
    It looks funny. Plus I keep wondering what exactly is the idea behind it…?


    1. This dressing culture is so weird and all these women think nighties are perfect, but capris are not…thats the irritating part.

      Weird, yeah, right…these women are unable to get out of that nightie syndrome…. 🙄


  14. ya, right. I dont remember where, but I had written the same thing in some blog we all know, that nightie has become our national dress for women 😀 😀 😀 But then again, if men can roam around in their shorts to buy vegetables and drop kids at the bus stop, then why not huh ? 😀 😀 😀 😀


  15. Just remember that most thoroughbred mallus wear a nightie. They don’t care a rat’s ass if they are in front of Barack Obama either!

    I personally feel they should add a fashionable belt and create a fashion ruckus of sorts!!!


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