// by Syeda Maah-Noor Ali //
There was once a vision and seventy years ago the vision became a reality. A vision of a separate state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid E Azam was the founder of Pakistan.
The youngest Indian lawyer to leave Lincolns Inn was a masterpiece; a polished, put-together jigsaw. Not just his professional life but even his attire portrayed him as such. One could say his whole way of living was tailored neatly. His way of moulding his dress to his surroundings was admirable, alongside his poise.
In the United Kingdom, he dressed in the clothing of an ‘upper-class English gentleman’: suits, ties, and breaches. But he took them one step forward: it was rumored that he never wore the same silk tie twice. Saville Row was a favorite of his, and with over 200 pressed tailored suits hung in his closet, he dressed to impress.
However, when moving back to the then united India, his dress code changed once again – adapting to his surroundings. Yes, the suits and cigars remained to an extent, but he was now seen more frequently in the traditional wear like the churidar pajama and sherwani, common to India even today. Alongside this change also came the addition of the karakuli hat, a symbol of his Muslim identity. He would wear a suit and top it off with his signature hat, in this way his clothing made a further impactful statement, at times even a political statement.
Jinnah’s clothing as he reared into politics, became a symbol – a form of solidarity and resistance and identity. On leaving India, he gradually distanced himself from the churidar pajama and opted for a shalwar instead, but still kept the cap and the kameez, a weaving of identities, of past and present, a way of showcasing his individuality whilst also playing the cards in a way that worked for him.
Even today you will see the older generation in Pakistan take inspiration from Jinnah – it’s the ‘classiness’ of it, always so tidy and commanding. My own paternal grandfather, who resides in Pakistan, will always look put together – never a thing out of place. My maternal grandfather never left the house without his Parker pen. It’s the small things that work to reflect a grand scheme of things and are memorable, whilst also making thundering statement in their own right.
What you wear matters, but how you carry it matters more. Jinnah was a prime example of this.