Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beijing Fashion...

…or lack thereof. I have really enjoyed people watching while in restaurants, on the bus or subway (minus the sweaty, crowded congestion of the mornings), and just about everywhere else. You can’t really fathom the amount of people everywhere in this city until you see it. Anyway, the clothing that most people wear has surprised me. I guess I expected that Beijing being the capitol city would mean that people would be more style-conscious than in other cities (except Shanghai, which is definitely the “New York City” of this country). However, it is not that way at all!

I would say that about 75% of the women I see on a daily basis are wearing heels. Heels in the subway, heels along the street, heels on the bus (go click-click-click, click-click-click, click-click-click….haha welcome to pre-school!). For the most part, they are the tackiest heels I have ever seen. Many are layered with rhinestones, bows, and other décor, have several colors, and do not in any way match the rest of the wearer’s outfit. I am constantly reminded of playing “Pretty Pretty Princess” or those Disney princess shoes little girls wear on Halloween.  Those who don’t wear heels wear Crocs. This must be the biggest Croc market on Earth because they are everywhere! All ages, all colors, and all styles can be seen at any given time.

Back to clothing. The men are pretty generic with their styles (nothing that you wouldn’t see in America), and I’ve already talked about the baby style of exposed tushies. The only thing worthy of note: the men tend to lift up their shirts when they are hot, which is only now changing as the weather has cooled in the past few days.  It is very common to see men sitting on the side of the street, standing in line for the bus, or just about anywhere outside, with their shirts lifted up to their chests and their bellies sticking out. (By the way…they are ALL hairless! Adam’s response: I’m hot as hell but I don’t want to scare anyone by lifting my shirt!)

As for the women, anything goes. Oftentimes nothing matches and it looks like everyone on the subway got dressed blindly. I constantly think that just because 2 articles of clothing have 1 or 2 colors in common does not mean that they should be worn together!!

Some examples include:
--Outside of the subway: woman in a silver sparkly dress, leopard print leggings, and purple crocs.
--On the street: woman with a plaid shirt, plaid shorts (totally different plaids), and white plastic-looking heels with silver rhinestones.
--On the subway: woman in a skirt with splashes of salmon-pink, blue, green, and white, wearing a “matching” striped shirt with similar colors and black short heels with a bow.

A very "special" hat!
Additionally, T-shirts are everywhere, just like at home. Also like at home, most are written in English. The big difference? The shirt I saw yesterday that said “Don’t Wrory, be Happy.” Another that said “Ksis Me!” Many of the shirts are probably exactly the same as someone in America or some other English-speaking western country might buy, but they are slightly messed up in some way. I guess that’s the benefit of having so many manufactured goods made here—you can keep and sell the ones that don’t quite make it to the West!

Hats and umbrellas are big selling items in tourist areas because the Chinese do not like to “get tan,” as we have heard. On particular sunny days, the umbrellas will be numerous and can really get in your way when walking on the street! Those without a hat or umbrella will hole up a bag, folder, newspaper, or anything else to block the sun. While massage parlors are everywhere, I doubt you’ll find to many tanning beds in this part of the world…

So I mentioned my surprise as the random style of dress in Beijing to another foreign teacher during training a few weeks ago. She pointed out that it wasn’t so long ago that the Chinese were required to wear “Mao Suits” (google it!), so the compensation seems to be an “anything goes” attitude: “As long as it fits and is brightly colored, I’m wearing it!” This actually makes a lot of sense; so lately I have been looking at people’s ages to determine if they are of the Mao Suit generation and can use this to “excuse” their clothing choices.

Another observation: very few Western-style wedding rings. I am interested to know how people in China show that they are married, if they do so at all. Any ideas? Please pass them along!

**I would love to have more pictures, but it's kind of awkward to take a picture of someone else while staring at them on the subway and my camera isn't always on hand while walking on the street. I'll work on this and update soon!

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