You can describe Chinese fashion in a lot of different ways. Creative. Funny. Puzzling. Outrageous. Shanghai especially provides a backdrop of unique outfits that would look beyond ridiculous if worn by someone from, say, the United States or Europe (well, maybe the Europeans could pull it off too – they’re also a bit fashion wacky…). The point is, for the average working Joe, Shanghai fashion just won’t work. It takes bravery, pluck, and perhaps a small dose of insanity to pull some of these looks off. Read on for some of my personal favorites.
The case of the missing pants
When I first moved here, I found myself repeatedly doing double takes at the girls who walked by – what happened to their pants? There they were, dressed in boots (with ten inch heels, but boots nonetheless), long shirts that barely covered their bits… and no pants. Perhaps they were in a rush and forgot to put them on? Maybe they lost them in a tragic accident that left them only partially clothed? Who knows? All I know is what I see, like the girl I passed the other day wearing a long, baggy sweatshirt that reached to her mid-thigh – and that’s it. In freezing weather. Which brings me to…
Tights in winter
Seriously, I don’t mean to be picking on the ladies here (I’ll get to you men next), but what is up with wearing see-through tights in the dead of winter?! If it’s cold enough for you to wear your knockoff Ugg boots, it’s too cold for you to be wearing a mini skirt and tights. Although I have to admit, no one ever seems overly cold when they’re wearing such things. My theory is that, over the years, Chinese women have developed a genetic immunity to cold temperatures on their legs. That would explain a lot. So hats off to you, ladies – the next time you see a white girl ridiculously bundled up in jeans and three layers of sweaters, staring at you in your skimpy tights in disbelief, know that I’m simply looking at you in admiration for your willingness to freeze yourselves for fashion. Seriously.
So are those for distance or for reading?
I have to admit, the huge 80’s style plastic-framed glasses are hilarious. Awesomely hilarious. I fully enjoyed looking at them, and even toyed around with the idea of getting some for myself (and yes, I wear glasses) – until I noticed something. And then my inner dialogue went a little something like this: “Why, it looks like there aren’t any lenses in the glasses. But that’s silly, who would wear glasses without at least putting glass in the frames to make it look real? No one would do… OH MY GOD, THEY’RE JUST WEARING PLASTIC FRAMES.” I’ve seen the fake glasses trend – it’s been done plenty of times before. One big difference - all the fake glasses I’ve seen have at least had glass in the frames so it’s not so obvious that you’re just wearing them for fashion purposes. And really, you’re just asking someone to poke you in the eye.
Excuse me sir, ma’am – you’ve got a tiger on your head
We’ve all seen them being sold on the street – those adorable yet slightly freaky fuzzy hats that look like animal heads. I honestly didn’t realize this was a gender neutral accessory until I saw a guy and a girl walking hand in hand, both proudly wearing a panda head and a lion head, respectively. Goes to show what I know. I’ve always wondered – does the girlfriend make the guy where the hat? Or does he just feel that confident in his manhood that he can slap a fuzzy panda on his head and call it a day? Can he wear this to work? So many unanswered questions…
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it is, of course, far safer for women to walk the streets in China than in my country (England), and, I suspect, the same is true in the USA. Women are not ogled on the street to the extent that they are in the west, are respected and valued in a way that they are not in the west.
So, we should understand why Jucinda, whom I imagine is from a western country, feels angry about the position of women. Yes, I agree with her views on chinese women's fashion sense, but is it up to westerners to impose our views on them? Western countries did enough harm to China in the nineteenth century (the British Empire certainly did with our opium-pushing) and my sense is that we should allow young chinese to evolve their own sense of what is appropriate and right to wear.
Nov 03, 2011 18:38 Report Abuse
@John said "it is, of course, far safer for women to walk the streets in China than in my country (England)".
This is relative. Shenzhen and Donguan are really not safe place for women to walk around in. Shanghai is safe (most areas).
In England, most big cities have problem areas, and most also have safe areas. Most small cities are largely safe in England. Most towns are also safe. Yes there are some places that are not safe at night, but it is unfair to say England, as this implies most/all of England.
Nov 04, 2011 03:41 Report Abuse
i am an african staying in china. at first it shocked me that women in china can actually wear short short short dresses without tights or trousers in side as opposed to the african culture were you have to cover your body. i really admire the freedom of dressing in china. although i have to say that sometimes the women over mix colours.
Oct 13, 2011 06:37 Report Abuse
Actually I think many women in China dress more pleasantly than many women in the US. At the same time, many women in the US dress more pleasantly than many women in China. There are people wearing crazy clothes everywhere in the world. I have read something about Steve Jobs fashion style today. Yes, he mostly wears his black T shirts, blue jeans and his white sneakers during the years. So it is better not to judge people through their clothes. I have no place in talking about fashion because I am really not good at it and do not care too much about it neither. Life is short. You wear what you feel like to ware. I am a Chinese person who lives in the US.
Oct 07, 2011 20:44 Report Abuse
Come on..... Chinese girls (asian in general) are a lot less stuck up or feel the need to impersonate men when working in an office. Are they childish? I don't think so. They are quicker to enjoy things that are pretty. They like hearts they want glitter they like to dress up or down and yes its very girlish. But then again the shy smile when you hold open a door is refreshing. Me, I am tired of "just cause I am a woman you think I cannot open the door for myself attitude" And yes that last statement is real. Happened when I entered a deli in Chicago and out of courtesy held the door. Should I not have been a gentlemen but allowed the door to slam in her face? I for one find it refreshing to see women being women. And lets not forget that here in China when work needs to be done the woman pick up a shovel and work along side the men. I find the Asian attitude to be more relaxed and far more colourful. The tonnes of ribbons and what not they like you do not have to wear it but they choose to so "let it be" I agree it can be amusing but that's fun. I think that to put them down for being childish is quite simply out of line.
Jul 27, 2010 20:07 Report Abuse
What doors, for pete's sake! They are two completely different things. One thing is to open a door for a woman, and another thing is when a Chinese university teacher wears a pink blouse, a green miniskirt and sneakers. It's not relaxed, it's unprofessional.
Jul 28, 2010 23:35 Report Abuse
IS this article for real? All the fashion stated here are quite popular amongst young adults in America/Europe AND Asia...I'm not sure who you are but you seriously are out of touch with contemporary society especially in the light of fashion to write critique/articles such as this. Shorts in winter - 90% OF US COLLEGE SORORITY GIRLS tights in winter- umm....it's actually all-seasonal. AND tights are warm, and conventional... 80s glasses - check all indie/hipster kids in seattle, LA, NYC, portland. If you want to point and laugh at fashion, there's always Japan.
Apr 12, 2010 05:58 Report Abuse
Yeah, exactly! I'm a uni lady teacher. I couldn't find a NORMAL white shirt and a NORMAL black skirt to buy. Had to go to the tailor. Bought my shirt in menswear section. They were staring at me when I was trying it on. Come on! I'm sick of all those stupid hearts and flowers!
Mar 11, 2010 03:56 Report Abuse
Another thing that I can't get over is Chinese women's obsession with glitter and utter tackiness. Oh and not not mention all that hello kitty and Mickey Mouse stuff hanging off their hand bags and phones. That's okay for 7 year olds, but sorry a career women in her mid to late twenties? I don't think so! So much Chinese fashion would have the potential to be wearable if it didn't have tonnes of ribbons and what not glued to it.
Mar 09, 2010 04:22 Report Abuse