The well known proverb quoted above says that clothes and men/women are two halves, it goes on to emphasize that clothes are as important as the person.
One person who taught us the reverse, Mahatma Gandhi. What made him give up the elaborate Gujarati attire, turban, and then his dhoti and Gandhi cap, and finally to a half dhoti (or a loin cloth) and a chaddar (shawl) – And did you know that such a radical decision happened at Madurai?
“All the alterations I have made in my course of life have been effected by momentous occasions; and they have been made after such a deep deliberation that I have hardly had to regret them. And I did them, as I could not help doing them. Such a radical alteration — in my dress, — I effected in Madura.”
Gandhiji himself describes the event – “On a train journey to Madurai (22nd Sep 1921), I saw in our compartment crowds bedecked in foreign fineries, and conversed and pleaded for khadi.. ‘We are too poor to buy Khadi and it is so dear.’ I realized the substratum of truth behind the remark. I had my vest, cap and full dhoti on. When these uttered only partial truth, the millions of compulsorily naked men, save for their langoti four inches wide and nearly as many feet long, gave through their limbs the naked truth. What effective answer could I give them, if it was not to divest myself of every inch of clothing I decently could and thus to a still greater extent bring myself in line with ill-clad masses? And this I did the very next morning after the Madura meeting.”
The next day, he appeared in this new avatar, from Door No. 251 West Masi Street (Incidentally the house is occupied by the Khadi Emporium)
A postal stamp issued in 2003 to remember this occasion!
When King George V was reluctant to invite the Mahatma to afternoon tea at Buckingham palace – Gandhiji adamantly preannounced that he would not re-clothe even to meet the King. The reason quoted was the Indian poor were still naked because of Britain, and that the “The king had enough on for both of us”