Of Uniforms and Fitting in

An alert informed me that a package had arrived, containing a shirt in the style of “kebaya kutu baru” in peach, a uniform for a wedding reception. Early on, I had opted out of it for I have got neither a kebaya-friendly posture nor the attitude. But at last moments the bride still insisted and sent one for me.

In general, I don’t mind uniforms. I even think they are very helpful most of the time. I need not worry that I wear the same shirt twice in a week because everybody does. For a fashion-blind and colour-blind such as yours truly, a uniform simplifies and streamlines the process of choosing an outfit. It also guarantees colour-coordinated, less cluttered, and visually integrated photographs.

But uniform has also, more than once, caused complications in life. When, in freshmen year, we were obliged to get the department’s student’s union jacket made, we went into a chaotic search for the right shade of green and materials that had been prescribed. When the company that I had worked for issued t-shirts to be worn on certain days or events, I refused to wear them for there had been “syntax and semantic” errors on them. This refusal drew criticism that I disregarded the team and what-not. I simply blamed the all-size cut, in which these t-shirts came, that excluded my size.

It may sound crude that uniform often serves to mark and distinguish. But in social events or settings, such as wedding receptions or birthday parties in which people dress to impress, such discrimination gives a peace of mind and pride that you are part of the family. You can easily tell the immediate family of the bride or groom, the extended family, their elders, their youngsters, their friends and the event organising staffs by the uniform, more so in traditional ones.

And this “kebaya” was made with such intention, to recognise the wearer as the friend of the bride.

The costume had been tailored without a fitting session so I needed to anticipate the worse that could happen: I would not fit in it. As expected, “definitely not!” was the response when I called home to ask. Of course. Since the party was due in less than twenty hours, I needed to come up with a plan B —how to wear the costume and still be able to enjoy the party, ie. move freely and eat as much as I wanted— very fast.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way,” they say. After playing different scenarios in my head, when there were needles and threads, scissors and snap blades, I said, “change the costume!” I decided to dismantle and reassemble it.

The result had got no “kebaya” vibe at all, more a match for a pair of boots than high-heels. I feared it would not be visually qualified for the “friends of the bride” club. Even so, I hoped this would still count as an effort to honour her wish to include me in it.

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