I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. A British protectorate in the West Indies and the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean. Our school system was extensively modeled from Great Britain, and with that came school uniforms. Very strict school uniforms, at every level. Preparatory school had me in grey tailored shorts and white tailored short sleeve shirts, with crest, well tucked in, black dress shoes, with black dress socks, mini-caesar haircuts everywhere. Phys. Ed. Was tailored school issued white shorts and a colored t-shirt, based on your class. You had to have the right bag, watch, and whatever accessories and each had to be dutifully subdued, and everything had to fit like it is supposed to. The point was NOT to stand out.

When I got to high-school (7th grade back home) the uniform changed again. Khaki pants and short sleeve shirts, black or brown dress shoes (no sneakers), matching belt, and black or brown socks (they couldn’t be white, nor ankle high). High school brought a new facet of dutiful subduction, the vendetta against facial hair. There was a point in high school around the 9th or 10th grade, when my Dean of Discipline (to a lesser extent the legitimate fashion police) would come looking for me every Monday morning to make sure I was well shaved and my hair was the appropriate length, and dare it wasn’t, it wasn’t out of the Dean’s realm of reason to take me to the barber him or herself.

The final years of high school saw another uniform change. Navy blue, grey, or brown/khaki pants, with white shirts, and of course dutifully subdued accessories. Albeit, the rules got a little more lenient in the later years, but my point stands, I wore a uniform every September to July almost every single day of my life until college. At the time I loathed it, envied and begrudged the Americans on TV in their sneakers and hair however they damn well pleased. In retrospect, finding myself as a style editor of a burgeoning magazine, I have learned to appreciate our panoply as school kids. I could go on and on about the discipline it teaches you, and the homogenous feeling of going to sporting events and seeing everyone in the same uniform representing the same thing, school and the institution was bigger than your egos and incessant rush of Guevarian ideas, as it related to fashion however a bigger picture has slowly been revealing itself to me in my episodes of nostalgia.

Having moved to the United States, and even observing modern trends in fashion, discretion no longer exists. Fashion was once about dressing accordingly for the event, it was your style, but the jungle is more important than the peacock. It was about whites and linens in the summers in the Hamptons, and there was actually something called Sundays finest. Above all wearing a uniform everyday taught me that fashion is as much about the occasion as it is about the individual. It’s almost as if to say fashion has lost its respect. From the pajamas in the departure lounge, to the short skirts sharing bread with the pulpit, we now live in a world were fashion has become more about characters, and personalities. Well I’m the young guy in the airport in semi-Sunday’s finest, dressed for the occasion, oil on canvas, not watercolor on paper.

By: Mikhail Budhai – Style/Fashion


6 Responses to “Watercolour”

  1. 1 bigchase September 9, 2008 at 11:06 am

    DUDE…are you kidding me!? This article is beyond impressive Mikhail, why the fuck has it taken so long to see your face on this blog!? We need more shit like this. Keep it up man.


  2. 2 Kevin September 9, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    What an incredible post! I have to say that is really what is wrong with fashion, and not just in America, but the world over.

  3. 3 Nyle September 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    JA schooling taught you a little thing about the pen and paper too. Good post mi hermano. Substance > Style.

  4. 4 Ruth September 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Wooow, very impressive (altho i like my short skirts sharin bread with the pulpit)

  5. 5 Ryan Evans September 11, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Mikhail Budhai: kudos. I am thoroughly impressed and delighted at this article. It felt as though you were speaking individually to me and collectively to my culture. One of the best posts I’ve seen on the blog, can’t wait to see more.

  1. 1 Watercolour | Eleven Magazine Trackback on September 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Eleven’s Twitter



%d bloggers like this: