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Of fashion, femininity and freedom.

By Lulwa Saffarini, Special to The Star A 12-year-old kid, I knew, once went into downtown Amman to buy a pair of training shoes because prices there are supposedly cheaper. He was a soccer player and big on basketball, and with that came an interest that verged on obsession with players and brands that kids nowadays would know more about than I do. So my friend walked into a dingy store wherein the owner, a guy sweating profusely and smoking a cigarette, like a trucker--you know the long drags and loud exhales--sat behind the counter. The child picked a pair of basketball shoes that were six sizes his senior. He was so excited and asked the owner if he could find his size. The salesman convinced the kid that the shoes were not too big and so the child bought the shoes. When the child got home looking like his feet got stuck in two kayak boats, his mom could not stop laughing and worst of all forced him to wear them when he could not exchange or return them. Well the morale of the story is that buyers, especially kids, are vulnerable. Salesmen cannot be happier than when they get rid of their goods; long term vision of lasting customers does not take priority. Whenever salesmen con you into buying something like electronics or clothes that are extremely overpriced they would say: It is the original Japanese computer blue tooth, or this dress is custom made, hand picked Italian. Even if the woman's figure looks like a pear or a blond hair-piece looks unnatural and atrocious, the saleslady would grin widely and say, "Oh my! You look gorgeous. I bet your husband will not recognize you. You will cause a riot in Amman." The sad truth is, her husband could not even pretend not to notice because the sight is so horrifying. Worst of all is when the dress is found in another store half-priced and the brand says that it was made in China. I have recently noticed that often the clothes in main shopping stores and malls are composed of mini skirts, very bare tops, jeans and not a lot of half-sleeved tops; yet clothes worn by people are modern, but certainly not that dashing. It makes me wonder where do the mini skirts go. Do women exhibit them to their husbands or else use them to clothe some of the dolls that they played with as children? Personally, I do not know of any girl that wears skirts that appear to be only slightly below the belt, let alone anyone who pays JD 35 just to model it in the privacy of her own bedroom. It is not the short clothes, but the lack of variety in clothes and the fact that such clothes are not widely worn, which makes me wonder about how such goods are sold, and where is the market for such clothes?I have heard people say: Jordan has such a wide variety of clothes, and I thought to myself, well if that means latest fashion's flimsy clothes then the statement is probably right. I walked in Sweifieh looking for a pair of classical sandals and all I could find were the Ali Baba sandals and slippers, and the joyfully colorful nylon sandals of orange, yellow, green and all the colors imaginable, with heels that compete with Eiffel Tower at very affordable prices. However, I find it pretty difficult to find classically cut or off-season clothes. Also, finding a formal pair of sandals that do not have ridiculously high heels is impossible--well except for the Genie style sandals. I personally find high heels such a hassle. They do look good on most people, yet when one walks in them like a giraffe with a twitch I am pretty sure most of the attention would be that of dismay. Aside from that, they break my back. It probably has not crossed many peoples minds that fashion is not always stylish. I came back from Canada last year for a summer vacation, and was jogging my regular half an hour a day when my friend called and asked me to meet with her and her friends in Visa V. Absent-mindedly, I marched confidently into the place wearing my bright pink sweater and a pair of un-matching dark blue pants. My friend stared across the table horrified, and I could not help but burst into laughter. I think that I stopped getting dressed up for all occasions, and was allowing myself to slip into what Jordan calls the fashion taboos.I have my own fashion taboos: Earrings, they are called earrings not dumbles; accessories which are meant to make one look fine, not frightening; certain 'objets d'art' not to be worn. I also despise makeup for everyday and all occasions. Makeup should be worn as a beautifying agent. It i quite unappealing when i have to wonder if a lady buys a makeup set everyday and cakes it on her face. The natural look has its own charm, and it also relaxes your skin. This might not be such a major issue that has to be addressed; yet I think that the way one dresses reflects his/her inner personality. Speaking of being different, I met this girl at my cousin's prom and she caught my attention. It had nothing to do with how refined her sense of style was; it was rather her clothes that spoke of her making her look nothing less than spectacular. She wore the dress, instead of it wearing her. It was her carefree attitude about clothing that reflected an inner radiating confidence. She seemed so genuine and her clothes so offish, yet in a bizarre way they suited her. I wished to see more people dress uniquely, dress for themselves and find their own sense of style. When we preach, be it democracy or otherwise, maybe we should consider finding our own language of communication rather than copying magazines' ads.

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Jul 22, 2004
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