À La Mode

As my term abroad comes to a close, I feel as though I’ve seen a large majority of the trends in Beijing. Many of them do resemble the ones we have in the West, yet it’s the little and amazingly original ones that caught my eye. The permanently full subway always succeeds at introducing me to accessories and recurring patterns of dress. The list of  unexpected things I have often spotted runs long.

I named my favorite sighting the “lone curler.” In this situation, curler refers to a hair curler, for a more than expected amount of women of all ages in this city enjoy rolling a piece of hair onto an accessory often seen in hair salons, which  tends to hang between the hairline and forehead.

My next favorite is three-dimensional barrettes. Often coming in the shape of a chick or fruit of some sort, these accessories are clipped onto hair to have a rather large object poking out of the head. I almost bought one, for they’re sold on numerous street corners!

Coming down to the clothing department, the following is less of a trend but just something traditional done by young couples in Beijing. This also exists in the other parts of China that I visited, and I’ve heard about it in other Asian countries, as well. Many people in new relationships like to coordinate outfits. Ranging from the same color or material, to head to toe similarities, demonstrating your relationship status seems to be important to many. I find this trend especially interesting, since most students at Choate have a difficult time expressing any clear sign of devotion.

My last observation combines the common courtesy of any two people in a relationship, and fashion, or more how it affects fashion. My teachers taught me that in Beijing men are expected to carry their girlfriend’s bags, and purses count as a bag. It can often be surprising for Westerners to see males carrying a Chanel shoulder bag, but I soon realized it was out of courtesy. Recently, while riding the subway with a classmate, I saw a man carrying a woman’s purse. Soon enough, his girlfriend turned around to reveal that she was carrying the same bag — a lovesick courtesy perhaps, but also the matching couples trend!

My experience looking for these trends has been so fun, and it has added to my understanding  of China. I never thought such small observations could turn out to  hold such joy.

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