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Clothing Matters

This detailed study examines sartorial style in India from the 19th century to the present, showing how trends in clothing are related to caste, level of education, urbanization and a larger cultural debate about the nature of Indian identity. Clothes have been used to assert power, challenge authority, conceal identity and instigate social change throughout Indian society. During the struggle for independence, members of the Indian elite incorporated elements of Western style into their clothes, while Gandhi's adoption of the loincloth symbolized the contrast between Indian poverty and British wealth. Similar tensions are played out in India today, with urban Indians adopting "ethnic" dress as villagers seek modern fashions. Illustrated with photographs, satirical drawings, magazine advertisements and political cartoons, this book shows how individuals and groups play with history and culture as they decide what to wear.
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