Why is it that whenever there is an important event about to take place in a woman’s life, she finds nothing nice to wear? In her wardrobe, that is.

Whatever one might hear to the contrary, most women like to be well turned out, especially for special occasions like weddings, gala dinners, banquets, and so on.

We might have cupboards bursting at the seams with clothes for all seasons, but when it comes to picking out that one spectacular outfit that we want to dazzle the world with, we suffer from collective confusion.

Men are straightforward beings in this case, because they simply switch from one pair of pants to another, double knot the first available tie, grab a jacket and they are done.

Well, in most cases.

Some might run a feeble comb through their hair and splash cologne on the way out, but more or less this is all they do by way of formal dressing.

But for us, women, it is one of the most agonising tasks. To sift through our wardrobe is bad enough, but to discover we have no appropriate attire, despite the large collection, is very distressing.

In fact, it makes us get in immediate touch with our vast network of female friends, colleagues and relatives who then come up with suitable suggestions. After much discussion and encouragement, which sometimes stretches into days, we finally zero in to the elusive garment.

But it was not always like this. When I was growing up, in a small provincial town, I was made to share my wardrobe with my siblings. It was the age of hand-me-downs. My problem was compounded because of my brothers, especially the older one, because it was his outfits that were passed on to me.

Our practical mother had no qualms about dressing me in boys’ clothing on daily basis. For grand occasions, I had two lovely frocks that would be hand tailored by my mom and hang elegantly on one side of the cupboard.

These I would be made to wear on very special instances, alternately, and with specific instructions. I could not mess them up because they had to be given to my cousins after I outgrew them. My cousins, of course, would eagerly look forward to this gift for the whole year.

Those were simple days and our lives did not revolve around the wardrobe. Sometimes even strangers could figure out that we were from the same family because our clothes would be cut from the same cloth, and literally too.

I clearly remember wearing a particular stripy dress that was identical in print to the shirts worn by my two brothers. If our looks did not give us away, our attire definitely did.

Meanwhile, last week, after an excruciating back and forth discussion with my two closest friends, I decided to wear one of my old dresses to a glittering social event where I was giving away some prizes. Feeling morose at not having the chance to pick up a new outfit, I made my way moodily down the stairs.

“What a wonderful red dress, did you buy it yesterday?” my husband asked as soon as he spotted me.

His enthusiasm was so infectious and I found myself agreeing in response and felt my mood brightening instantly.

And so, having a well-trained spouse is my number one wardrobe essential.