China must-knows: fashion on the high streets
1. Appropriateness gone crazyStandards of clothing-appropriateness are noticeably reversed - this is true in Beijing and Shanghai, but also, from what I've seen, in the smaller cities. China struck me from day 1 as very much a top-button kind of population, and yet... in compensation for that upper-half Victorianism, shorts are mini mini mini. If it's longer than hotpants, then it's acceptable.
This may seem like an enjoyable change for some, but as someone who tends to wear tank tops and spaghetti straps, I stuck out like a sore thumb! (And this despite my comparatively conservative knee-length skirts). Eventually, I gave in and started walking around in baggy t-shirts and mini-shorts. When the air is so hot and humid it hits you like a wave of toxic gas from the moment you step outside, how little you wear won't make a difference - you'll invariably be sticky within the hour.
2. Shorts.The shorts-mania that's gripping the nation clearly hasn't left out the other side of the world. Sigh. (Sigh? Yes, sigh. I can't wear shorts without looking like I'm in diapers.)
Frilly tops, t-shirts, all are worn with mini-shorts. Even girlish minidresses are worn with shorts underneath, bloomers-style.
3. Cut-out shoulder topsIn compensation for the conservativeness of the upper half of the body, risqué shoulder holes are incorporated into the design of many shirts. I do love that trend :3
4. Platforms and heels of Gagaesque heightsWe're talking a good 10cm average, here. Convenient considering the quantity of unidentified puddles in the streets, perplexing when worn on Great Wall treks. Doubly impressive is the fact that most of the available designs are mules. Seriously, how do people walk in mules?? One of the big mysteries of life.
5. Bright coloursChiffon fabrics and flowing cuts are in this season, and it would seem nobody does bright colours better than China. Turquoise, bright blue, pink and orange are very popular, but yellow takes the prize, the biggest and brightest and most common. Amusingly, after looking through my travel photos, my Parisian aunt's only comment was, "do these people never wear black?!". Ah, you really can't change the French.
6. UmbrellasRain? Sun? Whatever the weather, women all whip out their umbrellas faster than they can say Quidditch. Umbrellas are THE must-have accessory this season. Make sure you pack one if planning a trip to China. Else you might get caught in the summer monsoons. Or, god forbid, you might get a tan.
The bad and the ugly: anti-fashion habits exposed!
Anti fashion habit #1: The exposed pot bellies and love handles.Men, why take off your shirts when you can walk around with them riding up to your nipples?
Anti fashion habit #2: The spitting.True story for you all: One evening, I was waiting for my overnight train to Xian, when, in front of me on the platform, I noticed a beautiful woman. Presumably in her 30s, she donned long black hair, a sexy casual black dress, and more character than Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn put in a blender together (an odd comparison, I'll concede). There I stood, with nothing better to do than admire her femininity and class, when the object of my observation turned around and spat out more phlegm than I ever thought humanly possible onto the tiles next to her, with about as much class as a low-ranking mafia spawn (again, really weird comparison - I think I watch too many movies).
Anti-fashion habit #3: The split pants.Referring to the common habit of certain parents of cutting their children's trousers down the middle for... convenience's sake. I'll leave that up to your imagination.
Anti-fashion habit #4: Crocs.
Apparently, in China, Crocs are still a thing. So are Cocs, and Rcocs, and other variations on the originals.