Pardon My Completely Girly Entry – SJZ Fashion

So I went shopping the other day. Not for groceries, either. I went clothing shopping. Or maybe I should say browsing, since the only thing I could find to fit me was a purse and some shoes. I’m not exactly large. In fact, in the West I’m on the small side at 5’4″. But it is a different story in China. I’m more on the large side of average. The clothes here just don’t fit me. (To be fair I didn’t actually attempt to find my size or try anything on.) Mostly I just wanted to see what the selection is like for Spring in Shijiazhuang.

I first went to Beiguo department store. Like any department store, they have a floor devoted to different things. First floor is makeup, shoes and jewelry. Second floor is trendy junior/misses clothes and appliances. Third floor is higher end women’s clothes and pyjamas. Fourth floor is men’s clothing and some really matronly women’s stuff. Fifth floor is sports clothes, watches, exercise equipment and computers. I may have missed a floor somewhere there, but you get the picture. I toured the misses section and actually saw lots of tasteful, cute things. I was quite the show for the workers there. They followed me around to see what I was looking at.

I wish I knew how to communicate with the salesgirls. I was looking for some socks to accompany my new shoes. In the end, I just took them out of the box, pointed at my own socks, back to the shoes and then a light went off in the salesgirls’ head. She showed me to the sock section, and picked out what she felt was an appropriate pair.

Last summer when we arrived in China I noticed that it was fashionable to wear ankle or calf-high thin nylon socks, like trouser socks or the bottoms of pantyhose, with sandals, something that would be kind of strange back in the West. Evidently this is the time of the year when you need to buy your ankle-hose, because they were for sale everywhere. Reminded me of last October, when the thermal underwear was on sale everywhere and people were lined up to buy them.

Other than the department store, there are also free-standing chain stores and a few boutique style shops for purchasing clothing. My new favorite store is called Honggu. It is a leather goods store that sells really cute handmade purses, wallets and bracelets. (At ridiculously cheap prices and pretty high quality.)

So what are the popular clothing styles here? Chinese girls love to experiment with their clothing, although they are not as crazy or successful as the Japanese. On the streets of Shijiazhuang you will see an eclectic mish mash of styles, but there are a few that stand out.

The most popular among young guys and girls is the sporty look. You know, track suits and trainers? Lots of addidas and nike and other brands I’ve never heard of. Did I mention basketball is huge here?
Then there is the New Wave 80s look. It’s like Pat Benatar exploded or something. Everyone has spiky, multi-layered hair and wears lots of graphics and crazy colors. They even do the crimping iron – remember that? Some people’s style seems to consist of layering on as much sequin, sparkle and color as possible, preferably in the day time.

My favorite look is the art kid look. Seems there is an art school around here. They mix all of the above, but they get it right and look really cute.

As for the older generations, they always leave home looking their best, no matter what that may be. The old men favor suits and old military jackets and the old ladies sweaters and pants. It’s just great to see older people out moving and socializing.

I really enjoy going to the city to observe fashions on the girls because you never know what you are going to see. This trip I made the semi-mistake of wearing a very red, very bright spring jacket. I was like a moving target. As if I don’t get enough attention with my redhair and pale skin. (Did I mention that the other day a cabbie took a picture of me with his cell phone, while I was in his cab?)

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