Fashion in IIT: An Antithesis

Writing on fashion was holding this post back for a long time. I have always been completely out of touch on what excites people about dressing style, décor and fashion mantra. Looking good and presenting one in a fanciful but impressionable way is expected from teens. Most believe that adorning something that others would appreciate is a way to stamp one’s individuality. Most of the times it is quite the opposite! People practice fashion blindly in the fear of being left out from the selected class of dimwits for whom the sense of style, dressing etc., is the best way to conceal their absent individuality.  This is pretty much the background that you would need to understand what goes behind the complete absence of cognizance of fashion in IIT. Nevertheless, an indiscreet study of trends in couture amongst students of IIT should give readers an amusing but unique view of their sensibilities.

Fashion is a great leveler in IIT. The complete absence of any sort of knowledge saves students from meaningless pursuits. It is a great leveler in the sense that with no palpable effort by anyone to distinguish oneself on attire or hairdo, there are absolutely no distractions. It becomes difficult to fathom for us that how a person wearing an ironed pair of jeans and tee, sturdy shoes and tidy looking neatly combed hair could be out of vogue! If no attention to the brands of any of the above makes us unfashionable, we own up all discredit for being so.

The purpose of this post was to give an insider view on how fashion dictates college life. IITs serve as quite an antithesis. Fashion cognizance in the conventional sense is absent, but the daily earthly pursuits of students have a bearing on their dressing style. Students in IITs fall broadly into three academic disciplines – engineering, humanities/arts and management. The disciplines could possibly undergo finer bifurcation but these serve the most intuitive examples for our purpose. Let us take them one at a time.

Engineers are the ones who make the least effort to understand anything not related to science and technology. They may not have the most vibrant imagination but they derive extreme pleasure from scientific rigor and inquiry. Their state of mind and their identities (discipline within engineering) is revealed most exclusively through abstract messages on their shirts. Laws of physics, encrypted Morse codes and mathematical equations detailing hidden truths of nature are some of such abstractions that can most commonly be seen. The most fashionable of all in this clan are the ones who wear the most complicated or the most recent of such theories, either way the external stimuli is only science.

The humanities/arts majors in IITs are not that indiscreet. Wearing their ideas on their sleeves is not their raison d’être. They are not the typical brooding types but love to talk about their work with anyone who shows interest. One can spot them at any tea shop wearing a khaki kurta on jeans or loafers.  Their very formulaic dressing style bespeaks of their characteristic state of mind. Notwithstanding, if discussing fashion can enliven their senses, they are always game for that. You would have got this by now that most of them strongly adhere to Gandhian philosophy. If only a dhoti had been seen worn commonly, most boys would have done that and girls would have come draped in sarees!

The last of these are the management students. Most of these were engineers in their previous lives! They carry that bug (oblivious to fashion) into their new avatars but are the one who try hardest to look presentable even on campus. They are the ones who make the most favourable impressions in clothes. Most part of the year one can find them dressed dapper in corduroy trousers, white linen shirts and shining blazers. They look most stylish in casuals as well. Most engineers who aspire to become management students in future look up to them in awe.

So this pretty much sums up the fashion cognizance of students in IIT. Fashion in IIT is mostly wearing your ideas on your sleeves. Not conventional but highly stimulating. Period.

Shailendra Singh

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