The earthquake period really did alter the mood of the country, with the effects discernible in every aspect of life. Liu Lu says that her store’s business was going well until last month. Customers have clearly adopted austerity measures, since spending on fashion during such a period seems a bit frivolous. Many people she knows are sending the money that would have gone to dresses and shoes to Sichuan, which she stresses is as it should be.
The hot weather should make sales pick up a little though as people start to beef up their summer wardrobes. Griping about the heat and noting that the average fellow does not look so good in a sleeveless shirts and short shorts, I asked her what men should do in the summer since we are forced to cover ourselves more than women. She commented that in Beijing, “wifebeaters” are not as big of a fashion crime as they would be in New York or London. Certainly, in the hutongs of Beijing, it is far from uncommon to see men with their arms and even their stomachs revealed.
On a more fashionable set – or at least this is how they perceived themselves – in Hangzhou a few years back, the sleeveless blazer was actually a major style. It was different from a vest because it tended to be the same length as a traditional blazer or suit coat and often featured the button position, vents, and shoulder pads of a suit coat. It could just as well be a suit with the sleeves hacked off. These were usually made in low-quality polyester and worn sans shirt. They were purchased by those who felt comfortable revealing their chests. Perhaps we should be glad that I can’t locate a photo of this look.
Still, I am earnestly attempting to find comfortable suit alternatives for summer. Can a light waistcoat or vest be a substitute for a suit jacket or blazer in the summer? It could be a backless vest in a very light cotton. Here in Beijing, I have been seeing a lot of these vests on both sexes; they are usually paired with tee shirts. If it were a suit, the bottom piece could be longish shorts. This is probably pushing things too far beyond the bounds of good taste.
I’m not sure how well it goes with the whig, but it’s an interesting whimsical print in a silk chiffon. Left over from a high-end order meant for export, Lu got hold of around 15 meters, which means she was able to make five pieces – truly a limited edition.