All good rebels know that there are certain rules for dressing if you want to make it out of the house without a fight, and avoid hearing your mom bemoan what she did in her previous life to make you turn out this way.

This may pose interesting challenges when it comes to defining your personal style. But, don’t hide your “real” clothes in the bushes outside your home just yet! In this series, we’ll explore some of these seemingly outdated rules and ways to overcome them.

Rule #3:


Magazine covers love to flaunt fashion advice like “10 ways to appear slimmer even though you just ate two dinners!” or “How to trick people into thinking you’re 5-feet-3 when you’re actually 5-feet-2“. It’s pretty clear those editors don’t have Indian mothers who could offer outfit guidance based solely on superstitions.

What would the cover of Indian Mothers Daily sound like? “Red: The only color that withstands all occasions, seasons and your multiple reincarnations!” or “Tired of being single? Stop wearing black clothing!

To be fair, all cultures attribute positive and negative connotations to hues in terms of symbolism, not necessarily fashion. Bright colors = good, dark shades = bad. And science has shown that certain colors can have psychological and physiological effects on things like appetite, creativity and that boom boom in the bedroom.

But when colors take on a superstitious meaning – added to the already lengthy list of old school rules still propagated in Indian culture – how do you take it seriously?

Take for example red; (almost) every bride wears the color, traditional bindis/tikka reflect the pigment, and it’s used excessively in religious and auspicious events. I have no problem with the color itself whether on a dress or through a bad sunburn, but I do have a problem when someone tells me wearing red will miraculously cure all the evils in my life.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but I’m sure there’s someone in this world who has committed a sin or begotten misfortune in the presence of red.

On the other hand, black is shunned for its morbid meaning at weddings, temples and other occasions deemed joyous and sacred, i.e. life.

Again, I invoke Captain Obvious and say that unless you’re wearing black in the form of gloves and a ski mask to commit some heinous crime, then you can’t really fault the clothing for any negativity.

I wish I could end these ramblings here and leave you all with the impression that I’m like, totally cool, and have evolved way past these color superstitions like a good rebel should. But I guess somewhere deep in my psyche – after all these years of being told to embrace the reds and pinks, throwing in some yellow, adding blue for good measure, and don’t forget the green – I recently found myself questioning everything I thought I believed when I was faced with this outfit dilemma:

Could I wear a black dress to… <gasp>… an Indian wedding reception?!

Let me first state for the record that my logical brain realises this is not a life or death dilemma in any way, and could only barely be defined as a dilemma, but I worried that superstitious brains could potentially view it as a dilemma. I mean, I would be bringing the inauspicious color to an auspicious event for multiple gods’ sake!

In the attempt to answer this one question, which really should have just been a simple yes or no decision, my mind spiralled to the approximately 468,395 weddings I have attended of late and I realized some shocking truths:

  • I’ve never actually worn black to any of the 82 parties that make up a sole Indian wedding.
  • I don’t even own an Indian outfit that has a smidgen of black in it (except for dark wine stains courtesy of messy sangeet nights, but that doesn’t count).
  • I find myself a little surprised and awed by the girls that I have seen wear black at wedding parties. Mostly because I’m jealous of how elegant black lenghas and anarkalis look.
  • Holy cow (with all due respect to cows)… I’ve actually made the color choice all about superstitions instead of thinking about what the social etiquette and/or dress code calls for. I guess I’m more conservative than I thought!

I’m sure you’re all in major suspense wondering how this ends.

The answer is…

…yes, I wore a black dress. And nothing bad happened!

In my defense, A) the couple was cool with it which should really be the sole determinant in such situations and B) I was feeling fat and if I didn’t wear black, I would look even fat(ter) and that would have been the unluckiest thing of all.

Now, in conclusion, here are pictures of me wearing the dress as evidence, which I think is appropriate given all the self-created and unnecessary hype I’ve built up around it:

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