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   The Zodiac people yesterday threw a cocktail party... (July 2, 1986)

The Zodiac people yesterday threw a cocktail party (Scotch-and-soda) to introduce a new range of shirts.

There was one with detachable collars; you could attach (and detach) a shirt of the same material and pattern as the shirt, or a white collar, or, in the evenings, when you wish to put in an informal appearance, you could detach both the collars and go collar-less, in a sort of a round neck. Al very elegant and up market, I must say, but not my style.

There was another shirt with a gold (it shone like gold) tie-pin fixed in the collar, through an already stitched hole, I presume. And there was a gold chain dangling from it the last word in man’s fashions in shirts. I do not know what cost more, the tie-pin or the shirt.

Very nice, very classy, but once again not my thing.

Over the years, my shirt styles have undergone changes, but nothing as drastic as shirts with gold chains. When I first started wearing shirts, the open-fronts were considered as old style, our grandfathers (those of us whose grandfathers, were still living) used to wear them. We used to go to school in one of those shirts that you had to push your head through.

By the time I went to college, the open-front had returned to fashion, thanks to shirt manufacturers like Liberty, Excel, Van Heusen, Arrow (Indian Arrow, of course). They all had long-sleeves and cuff-links with letters to match your name (mine did not have a “B”, since at that time my name was not Busybee), and what were known as trubenised collars.

Trubenised collars were permanetly stiff collars, made so, I presume, by the insertion of stiff canvas into the collar. For a long time I insisted on wearing shirts with trubenised collars only, though they were very uncomfortable and gave a crick to my neck. I used to wear Excel trubenised-collar shirts and give them to Garment Cleaners to wash and starch. Then I would suffer through the day in the starched stiff shirts.

I never wore nylon shirts or parachute material shirts, partly because they were see through and I did not think I looked nice in see-through shirts. For that matter, I do not think any Indian male, except possibly Shashi Kapoor’s model son, looks nice in see-through clothes.

I never took to bust-shirts also and I have not owned or worn a safari suit in my life, but that may be because they are the uniform of the Indian industrialist (first and second rung) and I am not one.

When Mr. Khushwant Singh came to Bombay, he introduced the towel shirt though introduced may not be quite the correct term, because I was the only person who took to the style. They were the most comfortable shirts I have worn. Over a period of months, they would look less and less like shirts and more and more like to wels.

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