Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Men Can Be Sparkly Too!

When I was new to India I suffered from sensory overload on a daily basis. Is it any wonder that men's fashion took a while to get through the visual clutter? Forget about the fact that I had a whole new country and it's culture to take in. Women's fashion alone was enough to eclipse the men for months. I mean, think for a minute what they are competing with. The women here wear the brightest, most vivid colors imaginable on a daily basis and top it off with stunning jewelry on every visible part of their body. Seriously, fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, noses, foreheads and even eyebrows. Think I am exaggerating? Consider the wedding photo of Mr. Smiths Indian sister.

Who is going to notice any man in the vicinity? Now it is true that these are only worn all together on weddings days, but I see them individually everyday. Maybe not the chandelier bracelets, but the rest of it for sure. Eventually, though, the gorgeous attire of the women became familiar and other things made their way in. At first I noticed the things you would expect to see.

Turbans, Dhotis, Kurta Pyjamas and Curly Toed Shoes

Then Winter rolled around again and for the first time I noticed The Sweater. Any American who has spent a winter here knows just which sweater I am talking about. I have heard it referred to as fuzzy, furry, grassy and sparkly, but they all mean the same sweater. I give you India's version Winter Wear.

Note Mr Smith's attention to detail in providing us with a close up so that you can fully appreciate the Easter Grass nature of the sweaters.

In the beginning I mistakenly believed that some unfortunate man was cold and only had his wife's sweater to use. Then I saw another...and another...and another! I soon realized that these bright sparkly sweater vests were meant for men. Any man showing up to work sporting one of these babies in the US would be in for years of ridicule (just ask Mr Smith about the time he lost a bet and had to wear a dress to work) and any young boy in a US school would become the prettiest punching bag on campus. Here, however, they are so common that I sent Mr. Smith to work with instructions to get a picture of a fuzzy sweater and he sent me four to choose from almost immediately.

As you can see, a variety of colors are available and, trust me when I tell you, this is just the tip of the sweater iceberg. After a little questioning the young man in the middle admitted that he had in fact bought his sweater in the women's section of the store. What was the give away? Not the pink color, that is one of the most popular colors. No, it was the long sleeves that gave his secret away. Despite their liberal views on color and sparkles, in India, real men wear sweater vests!


Aunt Carol said...

I like the pink sweater in the middle. Does Mr. Smith have one in every color? Nothing better than a Sparkly Mr. Smith.

ellen w said...

Those sweaters really are everywhere - my word verification is haries - they are hairy and fuzzy 8-)

HouseBoy said...

Great post - you beat us to the punch! We were just thinking that we needed a photo series of fuzzy vests. I wondered if the sweaters were just this season's hot new arrival or if they are perennial favorites.

Tushar said...

Well. I don't know about the US schools, but here in India, sweater vests are an integral part of the school uniform, at least in winter....usually when the winter sets in we are supposed to wear the sweater vest and when the months get really cold, wear a blazer on top of it. I guess these poor guys wear them more out of habit than anything else!

jennie w. said...

I love this. These are the kinds of things that I want to know about India!!!

The Silly Nilly Family said...

Hee hee. Fun read!

Settlers said...

Just posted a long comment on your first post. Not sure if you'll read it. So reposting it here. Sorry for the double post.

Hi, just stumbled on your blog and got hooked. Why? Because I am Indian, from Delhi, staying in the USA and it was amazing to read your of your experiences in India.

Having seen both life styles closely, I was nodding for most of the part while reading. I know exactly why you felt/feel what you felt/feel.

Infact, after about 6yrs in the USA, I know that I'll also have to make quite a lot of adjustments when I return home.

All the best and I wil be glad to help/advise if you need any. Just drop me a mail (

I also blog at


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