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  • Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob.

  • Will: and I'm Will. Hello.

  • Rob: Hi there, Will. I have to say, I like that shirt you're wearing today.

  • I haven't seen that one before.

  • Will: Yes, I got it at the weekend.

  • But, to be honest, I don't give my clothes much thought.

  • I just throw on the first thing I see. What about you?

  • Rob: Well, I try to look presentable.

  • I wouldn't want to appear too scruffy.

  • Clothes say an awful lot about us, don't they Will?

  • Will: A lot depends on the job you do.

  • In a bank, you're supposed to look pretty smart all the time.

  • Rob: But if you work for a design company, say, a suit would look out of place

  • that means unsuitable.

  • People in the creative industries tend to dress down that means dress casually

  • you know jeans and t-shirts.

  • Will: Yes. Then there's the whole question of what to wear to an interview.

  • I reckon if you put on something smart you can't go far wrong.

  • Rob: Yes. But the meaning of clothes goes far deeper than

  • what you should or shouldn't wear in the workplace, Will.

  • It can really influence what people think of us.

  • Now, rightly or wrongly, they can make snap judgements or quick decisions about us.

  • Will: Yes, you're right. It's a cultural issue.

  • It's about how we see ourselves, too.

  • Rob: Now, take the sari. It's been around for centuries and is still the main form of

  • dress for millions of women in the Indian subcontinent.

  • Will: That's that very long garment with all those amazing colours and designs, isn't it?

  • It always looks so elegant.

  • Rob: Yes, it does. So Will, can you answer this question:

  • what is the maximum length of a sari?

  • Is it ... a) 12 metres b) 9 metres or c) 7 metres

  • Will: Surely it can't be 12 metres long! I'm going to say 9 metres.

  • Rob: Okay. Well, we'll find out if you're right or wrong later on.

  • But now let's listen to Dr Shahidha Bari talking about the sari.

  • She uses a word that means "covered". Can you hear what it is?

  • Dr Shahidha Bari: Saris encircle the waist, are often pleated and then swept across the

  • upper body with folds and fabric draped over the shoulder or veiling the head.

  • There are more than 80 different ways of wearing a sari and they've been worn in the Indian subcontinent

  • since the first millennium.

  • It's a garment woven into the histories of the countries from which it comes.

  • Will: So draped means "covered".

  • Then she used the word garment.

  • That's another word for a piece of clothing.

  • And then she said there are 80 ways of wearing a sari, Rob.

  • Amazing!

  • Rob: It is, isn't it? Some Asian women in the West wear saris just for ceremonial occasions

  • ... that means special events like weddings.

  • I suppose, in a sense, it's not that practical for day-to-day use.

  • But it certainly makes a beautiful splash of colour

  • or a display of colour when they do wear it.

  • Will: What she said has got me thinking about English traditional dress. And, to be honest,

  • Rob, I can't recall anything off the top of my head.

  • Rob: Off the top of your head, Will? That's because you're not wearing a hat.

  • Will: Don't be ridiculous, Rob. Off the top of my head. It's an idiom and it means I can't

  • think of anything immediately.

  • Rob: Yes, Will. I do know that actually. It was my attempt at a joke. But you're right:

  • the British dress sense has become a bit samey (it looks the same) ... apart from the fashion

  • industry, which is highly regarded throughout the world.

  • Will: Well, you wouldn't catch me wearing most of the men's gear you see on the catwalk.

  • Rob: But, seriously, Will, clothes are undoubtedly an important business.

  • Let's listen to Dr Shahidha Bari again as she reflects on her mother's use of the sari.

  • Dr Shahidha Bari: And yet the sari makes me feel safe too

  • because I associate it with her body and the world she made for me.

  • And now, as I struggle to keep hold of the sari, the rituals and the memories around it

  • I fear losing the world it signifies ... and her, too.

  • Will: She talked about the way she struggles that means she finds it difficult

  • to make the sari important in her life.

  • Rob: And she uses the word signifies, which means giving the meaning of something.

  • The sari obviously has an emotional attachment for her.

  • Will: And when you think just how much money people spend on clothes,

  • it shows how vital it is.

  • Rob: And let's not forget football shirts, Will.

  • Fans want to be seen in their team's latest shirt design, don't they?

  • I know I do.

  • Will: By the way, what team do you support, Rob?

  • Rob: Ah, well, it's Chelsea, of course. Come on, you Blues. What about you, Will?

  • Will: Tottenham Hotspur.

  • Rob: Never mind, someone has to. Now, remember at the beginning of the show I asked you:

  • what is the maximum length of a sari? Is it ...

  • a) 12 metres b) 9 metres or c) 7 metres

  • Will: Yes. And I said 9 metres.

  • Rob: Well, you know your saris well because that is the right answer. Well done!

  • Now, before we go, it's time to remind ourselves of some of the vocabulary that we've heard today. Will.

  • Will: scruffy

  • out of place

  • dress down

  • make snap judgements

  • draped

  • garment

  • ceremonial occasions

  • splash of colour

  • off the top of my head

  • struggle

  • signifies

  • Rob: Thank you, Will. Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.

  • You can listen to more programmes on our website at bbclearningenglish.com.

  • Please join us again soon.

  • Both: Bye.

Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob.

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BBC 6 Minute English September 17, 2015 - The Meaning of Clothes

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