Monday, February 10, 2014

China Town

Cheongsam - Hong Kong
Parasol - gift
Sunglasses - Asos
Shoes (not pictured) Forever New
I love to wear cheongsams because I find them both comfortable and flattering. I like the sleek cut and the beautiful patterns that they come in. I also like to carry a parasol in summer because I have sensitive skin that reacts badly to sunscreen. Incidentally, I find oriental style parasols to be the most beautiful and practical.

I can't help what I like and I don't think its particularly terrible to want to wear something that comes from another culture. After all, how boring fashion would be if we were weren't inspired by other cultures! Something that I love about vintage styles is the way many of the fashions in the 50s and 60s were inspired by Hawaiian, Mexican and Asian cultures. I don't believe this is appropriation, but rather, a celebration of diversity and the beauty of the world's different cultures.


  1. I completely agree with you! Wearing clothing inspired by a diverse range of cultures reflects the way many of our countries and cities are developing around the world- multicultural! I think its is a lovely way to celebrate the diversity and difference between us all.
    China Town was one of my favourite places in Melbourne when I was there last year. I love how your outfit blends so beautifully with your surroundings!
    xox Amie

  2. I'm with you through and through. You are not mocking, ridiculing, or directly insulting anyone's culture by dressing in fashion elements that they are well known for, so long as you don't do so in a negatively stereotypical way. I fully believe in culture sensitivity and am respectful of other peoples' heritages to no end, which is why I actually think sporting fashions for cultures that you particularly enjoy or find interesting is one of the very best ways to show your love for them.

    ♥ Jessica

  3. The Cheongsam fits you perfect.

    xoxo Perlchen Noir

  4. true words. It's so much more interesting when diffenet cultures are mixed together in fashion, the creativity is limtless!

    Your photos are great, as always, and you look stunning in that dress with your parasol. <3

  5. Personally I can't see a problem if you're wearing it in a sensitive and respectful way - I think you look great in this dress and you obviously are aware of the culture surrounding it. Of course it's important to make sure that you're not being racist when you are inspired by other cultures, but in this case it's just a pretty dress.

  6. Completely agree! How boring would the world be if we could only wear clothes designed by our own culture! Everyone takes influence from other places around the world, and 99% of it is done without malice or intent to harm. It is just appreciation, not appropriation!

  7. What a stunning dress on you! I have a very similar parasol. I agree with everyone else's comments here, but I can see why it's a sensitive subject. I have just bought a kimono jacket and I really hope that nobody ever takes offence to it! P x

  8. Looking gorgeous! I think in this day and age some people will look for any excuse to point the finger at someone else. it doesn't even need to be something controversial. I think that people will find fault with what we are doing no matter how good or bad we are. You're not hurting anyone so do what you love.

  9. Personally I would say you should probably get an actual Chinese or otherwise not a white-girls person's opinion on the subject... I don't have any qualification for giving one. I am just another white girl but I do however read a lot of blogs from women of colour and I think that cultural appropriation is a massive problem in the fashion industry, like those awful hipster girls in headresses.

    It's also harsh and derailing to take accusations of racism as 'political correctness brigade'. The Internet can be a great equaliser, giving a voice to people who haven't been given platforms before, and vocalising anger at racism isn't political correctness, it's challenging injustice where that challenge wasn't heard before. Using that phrase is often a way of dismissing real issues by making people seem too sensitive. Kind of like gaslighting. It's one thing to say that we should be influenced by other cultures and designs, but another to look at the fashion industry and see that it is a lot of white people taking the 'inspiration' and making money from it, but then excluding the very people who they are inspired by. How many models are people of colour? How many fashion designers?

    I'm not sure I'm objecting to the clothes you're wearing, but more to your phrasing around them and yes, this post did make me uncomfortable. It sounds as though you did too, so maybe there's a reason for your own uneasiness?

    Oh and there's a good tumblr that talks about appropriation of China culture specifically here so they obviously have better things than me to say on the subject:

  10. I think it's important to distinguish between blatant racism and the more subtle nuances of cultural appropriation. Because there's a long history of European cultures simultaneously oppressing and fetishizing East Asian cultures, I do find the whole "Oriental"/Tiki aesthetic highly questionable, if not exactly racist. Many of the midcentury tourist souvenir-type garments you refer to were not created in "a celebration of diversity and the beauty of the world's different cultures", as you suggest, but instead as a misguided romanticization of cultures Europeans couldn't be bothered to fully understand. There is also an element of colonialism in many vintage tourist items that is worth looking into.

    I'm not saying you or anyone else should stop wearing these clothes; they're often very gorgeous, and they can be reappropriated by sensitive wearers. I just think it's important to fully understand the loaded significance of midcentury ethnically-inspired garments. It's not as simple as "that's racist", but involves the long and complicated history of the colonialist mentality. Everyone should do their research and then make their decision once fully informed, I think :)

  11. I love cheongsams! They look particularily nice on you, and wonderful photos!

    As for the racism bit, I think people can tell when things are being done in good taste, as for the others, well there are the type that seem to always want to find something wrong with everything, so I wouldn't worry about it too much!

  12. I have a long cheongsam and wear it for evening parties and new years with friends. So far I've never been called out on it but I'm expecting to be one day. I have always had the sneaky suspicion that I shouldn't be wearing it so we'll see if anyone says anything about that. I probably wouldn't wear it to China Town at any rate

  13. Happy New Year! Looking lovely in your Cheongsam my dear! I think the key is to wear any dress of a different culture in a respectful and loving way. That is one of the reasons why I write such long posts to explain the cultural significance of the Cheongsam (Qipao) and how to wear it is also to encourage others to wear it in the best way they can. I love all my Qipao/Cheongsam, and most other cultural dress too...only just wore a Yukata (summer Kimono) recently despite not being Japanese. If you love a dress, no matter what culture it may be from, you will want to wear it well and (more often) wear it correctly too. So I got my Japanese friend to dress me properly in the most authentic way possible, and teach me what needs to be done when wearing a fact this 'How-To' post is on my blog right now! So I guess what I am saying is...enjoy the dress my dear!
    May x

  14. You are so beautiful Harlow! What an amazing outfit. We are so culturally diverse here in Australia I think it's nice to celebrate and embrace them like you said. x

  15. What a fantastic dress and an interesting spin on presenting this post. Do you remember when Super Kawaii Mama was roasted for buying a Blackamoor Boy? What can seem part and parcel of being a mid-century collector can land you in hot water, even if the intention of the owner wasn't to offend but rather save things from the past for future generations.
    I don't think that wearing a Cheongsam like this is offensive however. I fall in the same camp as you - I know we share a love of Asian designs and cultures, and I couldn't imagine being excluded from their rich and varied cultures, tastes & fashions, just because I'm not Asian. I think that any genuine passion and respect for a culture other than your own can only be a healthy thing in this day and age :)

  16. your cheongsam is really beautiful.
    i bought an asian two piece set years ago in viet nam but i never wore it. it was too faestive for every occasion in this time . nowadays i would wear it but i sold it years ago.

  17. I just found your blog through one of your tumblr posts and first I want to compliment you on your wonderful outfits and lovely photos! I really enjoyed your commentary about cultural appropriation and admired your sensitivity to the issue. Speaking as someone who is 100% ethnically Chinese, I agree with Dakota's post above about making informed decisions and being aware of the culture behind ethnically inspired clothing. I also agree with May that wearing a Cheongsam like this is not offensive. I also have a taste for beautiful clothing regardless of the culture they are from and do like to wear them when appropriate. One of my favourite things to do while away on a trip is collect pieces of ethnic clothing from the places I visit as a sort of souvenir and addition to my closet. I visited Budapest this past summer and came home with two beautifully hand embroidered Hungarian blouses that I like to wear with skirts in the summer. I also think that borrowing things from different cultures is something that every culture does, not just European cultures, and as long as everything is done respectfully and with cultural sensitivity, I don't see why everyone shouldn't get to enjoy wearing beautiful clothes :)


Please no spam/"I'll follow you if you follow me"/"look at my blog" comments.