Dress Code


I stepped into the elevator yesterday and the next person to get on heading down was one of my always very elegantly dressed neighbors.

This classy lady is typically wearing gorgeous glittery tops, flashy heels, and tight little skirts, shorts with tights, and other Chinese fashion items.

On this day she was wearing tailored black slacks, an Ann-Taylor style top and little open toed sandals, no jacket.

The high was supposed to be 43, and it was still early.

Oh, and she was carrying a pail of water.

I asked and she confirmed, yes, she was on her way to wash her (very nice) car out in the parking lot.

I felt very underdressed in my jeans, boots, scarf, jacket.  Shivering in the elevator, no less.


Next floor down enters a middle aged man.

He’s wearing a gray woolen sweater, black freshly shined dress shoes, and….long johns.

Yes, the kind we in the west typically wear underneath our clothing and keep covered up outside.

So I was pondering whether I was underdressed, or, in fact, overdressed.

Long johns are standard here once the temperature dips below 80F.

Many Chinese folks strip out of their daily clothes as soon as they come into their (or others’) homes and just hang around in long johns, just like we might change into our comfy jeans or sweatpants after a hard day’s work.

One might also see folks going for their Chinese version of donuts with soymilk at the little neighborhood street vendors and restaurant to-go windows, still dressed in what looks suspiciously like pajamas.

While the male doctors in the heat of summer often forego the shirt and just put on a white coat over a bare chest, and complete the outfit with shorts and house sandals.




It’s a habit


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