-- She Has a Cyber Packing Party
women and girls tend to dress somewhat conservatively. That
is, no bikinis, no belly-button revealing clothes and no short
shorts or skirts. Although some women do wear these types of
clothing, it is often looked down upon and is seen as an invitation
for men to harass women. I never ever had a problem with harassment
in China and I've traveled all over for extended periods of
time. If you're respectful of the people, their customs and
culture, they will in turn respect you.
Emily, New York, USA
I was in Beijing and Shanghai in June, when it's fairly hot
there. My advice is to dress to 'blend in' (sort of). You're
already going to be stared at, hassled, and talked about by
onlookers because you're a foreign woman, to begin with. This
is much worse, however, for women who are dressed in typical
western summer clothes, such as camisoles, tank tops, shorts
well above the knee, low-neck shirts, skirts with high slits,
etc. These clothes are just not considered appropriate by most
people in China. My girlfriends and I wore these types of clothes
at the start of our trip, and were hassled and stared at a lot
until we toned our clothes down. I recommend plain, relatively
loose pants, below-knee length skirts, and short-sleeved tops.
Nothing too bright or expensive-looking or flashy. It'll get
you more attention than you want, believe me. You are definitely
treated more respectfully by the natives if you adapt to their
culture and dress more like them.
Katherine, Boston, USA
I just read a couple of posts on people wearing gray or bland
colors trying not to stand out in China. I'm living here and
working as a teacher right now and I had to laugh. What you
wear is unlikely to make you stand out either more or less than
you will anyway. Unless you dress sloppily. The Chinese will
appreciate it if you dress up and wear pretty clothes (you will
rarely see women older than teenagers in jeans.). The Chinese
wear velvet, sequins and other things Americans normally only
wear for New Years parties on a daily basis. I found out the
hard way. My first year here I lived in denim. I thought it
practical for wear and hand washing. I will never think denim
better for hand washing again. And it doesn't necessarily wear
better. This is my second year and I wear a lot of black, pink
and purple, velvet and glitter. Dressing up has made a world
of difference in how I am perceived. You can get by with just
lipstick and blush as Chinese women rarely wear makeup other
than lipstick. Scarves are also popular, but don't bring them
from home. Buy them here. They are cheap and more gorgeous than
any I've seen in America. And lots of variety. Oh, and skip
the sneakers. A lot of women wear heels here, too. And the Chinese
also really love sparkly hair accessories, but, again, buy in
Kate, an American living in China
China has really adopted the West as far as fashion goes so
wear what you would if you were home - except leave the shorts
and halter tops behind. Bring enough clothes because you will
have a tough time finding anything to fit in China unless you
are a size 2-4. I am 5'8" and a size 12 so there was nothing
that fit me except an XXXL sweatshirt I bought at the Great
I started my trip in Shanghai
which is very cosmopolitan and has designer row stores just
like Michigan Avenue in Chicago. You can dress like you would
in New York City and fit right in in Shanghai.
I then took a cruise on
Yangtze and went in the poorer areas. Even in the poorest areas,
the young girls dress as fashionably as they can afford - they
love the designer clothes such as Fendi, Gucci, Burberry - fake
of course, but they are cheap and fun.
Beijing is also very progressive
and modern. Wear whatever you would at home - sans revealing
clothing. In the Silk Market, you will be able to satisfy your
fake designer cravings for anything you desire - and they carry
larger sizes (nothing over a US 10-12), even if it says XXXLLL
it still will be about a 10 -12. Don't expect to find shoes
in China if you wear over a 7.5. If you have small feet, there
is a bonanza of fake designer wear, but remember they are not
top quality. If you go to the opera, wear a dressy, but not
formal outfit. I wore velvet pants with the wide legs and a
matching wrap top (from Ann Taylor) and it was a big hit with
the Chinese women. It packed well, didn't wrinkle and I wore
it several times. I took my leather blazer and lightweight sweaters
to wear underneath since it was spring. I took black, red, khaki
and white which all worked together beautifully. I also took
my raincoat with a zip in lining because at that time of year,
you never know about the weather.
Francesca, Ohio, USA
I'm a JourneyWoman from California where the sun shines. Just
returned from a two week winter journey to China. Yes - it was
cold, but clothing did make a difference. We wore thermal socks
under hiking boots, thermal underwear, and, on top - a cotton
shell, polar fleece jacket, and windbreaker - three layers make
for absolute comfort. A wool hat to cover ears as a must as
is a hood on the jacket. Re gloves - two layers worked best
for me - the thinner under-layer was a blessing as I kept pulling
off the heavy outer glove to take photos.
Ms.Golkin, California, USA
Velvet and sequins are everyday dress in China. The Chinese
love sparkly and anything festive. No one will tell you, but
jeans are looked down on. So is slouchy clothing. The Chinese
will be thrilled if you dress up.
Carolyn, an American in China
When I was in Beijing I didn't see a soul in velvet at Starbucks.
If you are in Beijing in the summer or fall when heat and humidity
are high, pack a pretty handkerchief in your purse. I used one
to cover my mouth and nose because the air pollution can be
intense at times, especially when traveling by taxi. When in
the countryside, wear plain styles in darker colors. Believe
me, you will attract plenty of attention just by being you.
Brandi, Bowling Green, USA
I would highly recommend skirts over pants in much of undeveloped
Asia, not because of femininity or cultural mores, but because
of cleanliness. The bathrooms in this part of the world are
pretty tough by Western standards and the floors are usually
quite wet and nasty. Since many of these cultures use water
to clean themselves instead of toilet paper, the water tends
to get all over the floor. It is much easier to squat and hold
your skirt over your waist then it is to squat and hold up the
bottom of your pants from touching the floor.
Durfee, Boston, USA
Clothes are very cheap in China, but the women are a lot smaller/tinier
there than in Europe... I couldn't buy hardly anything in the
local/cheap stores that fit me. And I'm just the average height
and weight for European women.
Caroline, Rotterdam, Holland
You would expect that trousers would be the ideal choice for
China, but you will find that it is much easier and more modest
to wear a skirt if you have to use the local toilet "facilities".
Marjorie, Ottawa, Canada
I traveled in China: Don't pack anything fancy --knits are best,
pants and tops and one coat. Flat shoes for walking on THE WALL.
Clothes are cheap there and it is best to only take what only
will fit in your carry on, and buy anything else you need, including
a collapsible suitcase.
Joanne, Mill Bay, USA
Wow! You really travel light!
For women in China, a simple dress or slacks and a jacket are
adequate for anything short of an official state banquet in
the Great Hall of the People.
Kevin Sinclair, Iris Wong Po-yee, Culture
Shock, China (Graphic Arts Centre Publishing Company)
If you're in Beijing during the summer, expect lots of heat
and humidity. To keep as cool as possible, you'll want to pack
cotton short sleeve shirts, T-shirts, shorts and skirts. But,
understand that Chinese women consider shorts very casual. So,
if you plan to wear them, make sure that they are "the walking
type" that reach at least to your knee. Ditto for the length
If you are going sightseeing,
by all means be comfortable, but going braless, wearing tank
tops or anything low cut will be frowned upon.
When it comes to formal
wear, lightweight pantsuits, blazers and skirts are the norm.
If you're invited to dinner and aren't sure about what is appropriate
to wear, ask your host. She will consider it a pleasure to offer
Be sure to pack a pair
of all purpose walking shoes. As for other footwear, sandals
are the easiest to pack and perfectly acceptable in Beijing,
especially since it's going to be so warm. But, be sure to wear
sandals with a heel strap. Those without are classified shower
sandals or bedroom slippers and the Chinese will consider them
Jan Wong, Toronto, Canada