Stuff People Wear in Asia

by Sharon -- December 20, 2009

One thing I do very well as a traveler is observe the way people dress in different countries.  There is nothing more entertaining for me than to examine the area for interesting fashion choices; by interesting, I mean a woman doing manual labor in clear stripper heels or a man wearing a shirt that says “I touch nature”, and everything in between.

Given the cities that we have visited so far (within Hong Kong, China and Vietnam), if I were to sum up the women’s clothing in one sentence, it would have to be this: If clothing from the 1990’s had a fling with children’s clothing, their love child would be exactly what women wear in Asia in the year 2009.

Now although this may come off as derogatory towards Asia, it is not meant to be.  These are just a silly American’s observations about something different. I’m sure if a woman who had grown up in Vietnam and saw what we wear in America, they would also have many things to contrast.  I can say that one thing they would most definitely comment on is how American women dress like hoochie mamas.  The reason I know this is because they seem to think I am the mayor of Hoochietown.  Sometimes I am a recipient of the Asian Stank Eye (ASE, as I will coin from now on) when I go out in public in a simple tank top.

You might have noticed that I am very fond of lists.  Lists can illustrate my point much better than writing an essay about it, so here is my list of the most common fashion gems I have seen so far:

  1. Bejeweled, bedazzled, rhinestoned, colorful scrunchies and hair clips. Women here LOVE their hair pieces.  If you walk down any street in China there will be multiple women pushing carts full of gawdy hair pieces and wonderfully 80’s scrunchies for sale.  Scrunchies here are the equivalent of regular hairties in America-EVERYONE wears them.  Also, do you remember those colorful hairties that you wore in elementary school that had the little plastic dice, hello kitty, flowers, jewels, or beads at the ends?  Yeah, they’re all around here as well.
  2. Heels double as dress shoes as well as athletic gear. The best is seeing women wearing skirts and stilettos while riding their bicycles and hiking in caves.
  3. “Engrish” phrases on t-shirts are a great way to pass the time and get a good laugh.  “Engrish” is the loving term that was coined for “Asian English” in which the phrases or words from an Asian language get lost in translation to English, so the end result is an often hilarious sentence.  For a good time, visit Engrish.Com.
  4. Pajamas. Many women go about their daily business or sell their products in public wearing matching pajama sets.  During the day.  Why?  And by why, I mean why can’t I do that in America?
  5. Mickey Mouse. You’ll find him on a lot of clothing, at least in China.  It doesn’t stop at Mickey Mouse, either.  Many strange cartoon characters live on jackets and shirts of children and adults alike.
  6. Socks with EVERYTHING.  My personal favorite.  Women wear socks with heels, open toed boots, sandals, you name it.  And by “socks”, I mean anything from ankle-high pantyhose to regular white athletic socks.  I’ve even seen women wearing open-toed heels with ankle-high pantyhose pulled over their pants…  It’s wonderful.

The more places we visit, the more I begin to notice how different people dress in certain areas.  What will be interesting, however, is to see how people dress here in Southeast Asia during the summer.  Unfortunately I will not be here during the summer to experience the agonizing, tropical, wet, excruciatingly muggy heat.  The hoochie mama clothes have got to come out sometime, right?

Be awesome and help us share:

9 Responses to “Stuff People Wear in Asia”

  1. HAHAHA.

  2. hahaha , shayron! I love it !!!

  3. is that even a woman in that picture!? I bet its a good leg workout…. I should try it in Seattle. Hooker heels with bikes. Not only would all the granola washatonians double take, they would think im from california! haha I want to see more pictures of fashion!

  4. Great hat :-)

  5. Great post, Sharon. Very funny!

  6. MORE PICTURES!!!! I expect a whole album by the end of the trip of just hilarious Asian fashion.

  7. Some of the fasion can be seen in Asian markets in the bay area, like grocery stores in Cupertino. You can tell who just got off the plane. On #3, I’ve seen interesting Chinese charactors on clothing sold in stores like Norstrom, so it goes both ways. On #4, school kids now regularly have PJ days, complete with bathrobes, and mostly girls participate.

  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    That is most certainly not a woman in that picture! I haven’t actually taken pictures on this subject myself, so I had to search for them online (sorry Les, but I’m starting to take my own pictures! It’s just so awkward because I don’t want them to feel like I’m making fun of them so I have to find a roundabout way of taking it…)

    Vivian: That’s a very good point about how Americans wear t-shirts from Express that have Chinese characters on them and they have no clue what it means!

  9. […] writing style is uniquely humorous, and I loved Sharon’s blog entry about fashion in Asia and Jason’s tips on eating healthy and working out on the […]

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