One part of discovering a new country and culture is learning about traditional and local fashion.
I absolutely loved traditional fashion in India (that’s about the only type of fashion you see there, in fact). The stunning, vibrantly colored saris were to die for. I never worked up the nerve to try to get myself into one (NOT an easy process), but I did buy myself some salwar kameez, which were just as colorful and a lot easier to put on!
And then I developed a minor obsession with the longyi/tube sarongs in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, picking up (at least) one new one for myself in each new country…
Modern fashion in Thailand was also great – quirky and fun and cute, if not a bit on the skimpy side at times – and I’ll admit I went a bit nuts shopping in the fantastic street markets of Bangkok.
Vietnam’s ao dai I admired from a distance. It’s no longer worn in the day-to-day but we saw plenty of women working in hotels, restaurants, etc. who donned them as a uniform and looked great in them.
(It’s not something for me though. I’ve determined that to pull of an ao dai you have to be 1) Vietnamese, 2) elegant, 3) tall, or 4) slender. I am a healthy weight but I wouldn’t call myself slender; I am short and white and many wonderful things but elegant sure isn’t one of them. My beautiful friend Jean, who is items 2 through 4, however, would totally rock an ao dai, for example. However, I digress…)
Having turned into quite the sponge for Asian fashion, I am finding myself totally overwhelmed by China. Apparently, anything goes in this country, and boy, does it ever go.
I’ve actually stumbled upon a whole wonderful blog by a person who is doing a study on the emergence of fashion in China – it’s really fascinating and often hilarious and it mirrors and delves into some of the bewilderment I’ve experienced in the face of Chinese “fashion”.
So we’ve seen quite a range of styles here.
Traditional garb that minority groups have been rocking for centuries. Communist-era blues and greys on the older generation. But it’s the modern fashion that throws me for a loop.
I don’t want to blow things out of proportion. Most modern-dressed Chinese we’ve seen look normal to well-dressed. But there are still lots of people who seem to be trying to push the envelope of style and taste. And these people seem to congregate at the country’s major tourist spots – i.e. many of the places we’ve been spending time at. The fashion is so overwhelming that I’ve begun to lose track of which direction is North, aesthetically speaking. My arrow is pointing to something, but I don’t know anymore if it’s tacky or sublime.
This has been exacerbated by the fact that China has been by far the coldest place we’ve been in ages. What little style I was managing to scrape together with my small wardrobe has been thrown out the window in the name of keeping warm.
Basically I will wear as much of what’s in my pack as possible in a desperate effort to stay warm, regardless of how badly it clashes or how ridiculous it looks. Roman teases me that I’ve gone native, and I am concerned that between being dazzled by Chinese fashion and my need to keep out the cold, my fashion compass has gone completely bust.
So, I’m asking for your help. I’ve started capturing just some of the more impressive ensembles on “film”. I hope I can still tell what constitutes good style and what is just too much, but I’d appreciate the input of people who have a bit more perspective than I do at the moment! 😉
So without any further ado… Please help me reset my style gauges to fashionable!
Fashion forward or fashion fail?
What’s striking about these two ladies, especially the one in the spike heel boots, is that they were in Dazhai, a small farming community that is small part cobble stone streets, big part narrow, hilly dirt paths through farm lands. You can take the girl out of the city…
I actually think this guy who was waiting at the bus stop with us looks really dapper. What you can’t see is that the checks on his vest are made up of “Cs” and “Ks” – a really poor Calvin Klein knock off that could have gone horribly wrong, but he makes it and the whole ensemble work in my opinion. Fashion forward!
Thanks for your help! 😉