To many, fashion and style are the same signature statement. But the twins are not same although on rare occasions can they have a meeting point. Rabindranath in his groundbreaking novel, Shesher Kobita clearly showed how the two differ from one another. He states, "Amit likens fashion to a mask and style to the beauty of countenance". Fashion is a trend that undergoes changes over time so much so that the one that was once discarded as obsolete turns out to be avant-garde. Style, contrary to it, expresses the personality in its mellifluous elegance and inner beauty.
Have you noticed that cricketers and footballers, particularly the formers, have lately started keeping beard, some of them even long hair? This is fashion. Because the two games have eleven players on the field, if the majority of them keep beard, it is really tough to identify them unless the cameras show them up close. In the 50s and 60s of the last century children were the most miserable when the village barber instigated by parents or guardians cruelly cut and shaved their sideburns or side whiskers for a haircut. By that time, the type of fashionable haircut was introduced which youths and men were entitled to have. A few of the youngsters felt so sad that they cried copiously for losing their sideburns to their barbar's razor.
But lo! what is happening now? That crew cut has not only staged a comeback but football and cricket players seem to be very fond of this nowadays. When the fashion has got currency with the heroes of the game, there is no surprise if their fans go for the same. Thus what was once a backward and obsolete style (used loosely) has now become fashionable.
Similarly, girls and women have also changed their taste for hair. The preference for long hair is still there but many, particularly those who have to work alongside men in offices, would rather opt for a bob cut. Those who can still braid or make plaits of their long hair and make a knot casually for day-to-day routine work as part of a formal make-up but they would rather go for buns or donut buns with intricate patterns.
It is, however, men's hair upkeep that has gone radical changes. In the West, wig was once highly popular. How about its reintroduction there and introduction in this land? Isn't it quite revealing that wig factories have been set up in Bangladesh! The long hair that girls and women get rid of has a huge demand. Quite a few people have made collection of hair their occupation. The hair is pricey as well. A kilogram of hair is priced at Tk 3,000-5,000 depending on their length and quality.
Where do the collected hair from beauty parlours go? Obviously, to the wig factories not just to the local ones but also to their counterparts in the West. Although a very insignificant sector, its earning from export was $105 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year. Even wigs are used locally. Interested people order their own wigs from the local factories. Who then are the customers? A few of them are those who face an interview board, others who go to see their brides and still others who read news on television. Quite fascinating, no doubt!
Hairstyle would remain incomplete if the fade haircut, taper haircut, buzz cut, Ivy League haircut, long to short sides and French crop and undercut are not mentioned. Some of those are quite bizarre to unaccustomed eyes. Similarly young girls are also presenting a hairy look(!) by colouring their black hair whitish like those of old women or a few stresses are coloured reddish, yellowish or even greyish as if the hair is anaemic.
Style demands that one stands out for one's unique style among the ordinary. But standing out does in no way mean it has to be queer and mispersonification. One can draw attention by a strange and ugly look. Of course, there may be debate over such looks but one thing is clear that those do by no means bring out the inner grace, elegance and suavity of a person.
In fine fashion can go out of context and tread uncharted territories only to be ephemeral but style is everlasting and universal. It represents the aura of a person in a soothing, dignified and pleasing statement.