Post 102: Literal

When it comes to fashion and style, irony is definitely not understood on the Mainland… It’s probably because everyone dresses sooo literally here. Most Chinese people want other people to think to think they are rich, which is why they try so hard to look the part (hence all the LV/Burberry/Gucci bags and other conspicuous goods). I’ve seen way too much of that and I’m sure you don’t need photographic evidence, so I’m going to focus on the more humorous side of literal Chinese dress for this post: English phrases on clothing in China.

I don’t know why Chinese people insist on putting English words or phrases on their clothing because they hardly ever make sense, but sometimes they make perfect sense. Take a look:

I think she’s got just the right attitude for her hoodie… I would bet that loud beats saved this girl’s life more than once.

Loud beats couldn’t save this lady though, and the phrase on her shirt is not helping what people read into her whole ‘look’:

I believe it reads “Dead or Alive” and I’m sorry to say it but this phrase on her shirt is very fitting of this lady I found wandering in the early twilight of a smoggy Shanghai morning.

She was totally harmless though, I like how it says “__ PERCENT HOMME” underneath… But sometimes the shirts are too aggressive and not that funny, like this lady’s:

I mean, I’m sure that she wouldn’t shoot you, but the only thing I or anyone else could read was “will be shot. No trepassing” [sic] And then she’s holding the hand of her child while casually walking down the street. I would prefer not to see such aggressive things, but they probably don’t understand what it says/what it portrays to English speakers.

And if any youngsters or sensitive types are out there reading this blog, be forewarned that in the picture below a Chinese person uses offensive language:

I mean, it’s actually kind of a funny phrase overall, but I don’t think this guy gets the intensity of that word…

I thought this guy looked totally unassuming and sweet… I found him wandering the food streets of Chongqing:

But then I zoomed in to read exactly what his jacket said… And to my amusement, I found that it simply read “FAMOUS”:

This was cute and innocent enough I thought, especially because he probably didn’t understand what that meant exactly… But when Chinese people wear matching outfits, it is NOT cute. I mean, when almost anyone dresses to coordinate with another person, it’s cheesy and semi-nauseating, no? And to add words on top of dressing like someone else is just ridiculous, right?


This is ridiculous. I feel uneasy in now knowing that there are Chinese Jacks and Jills all over because of these hoodies, but there’s nothing we can do about it now, so I’ll just try not to notice next time.

But this kind of English on clothing is the absolute worst… Literally declaring on your shirt that you are “SEXY, fashion, TRENDY, yours, HAPPY” + some numbers means you’re most likely none of the above. Stop trying to be something you’re not please, just be yourself!!

This is another example of your typical mindless Chinese consumers, Coach bag and all:

Her sweater reads: “Focus On You, What’s Going On?, Join the Club, Come with the Lumber Girl Beat, and Only”. So what I read it “Single/Selfish Child, Mindless Consumer, Trend Follower, Sometimes Follows Lumber Girls, and Special”. I read that all from the Coach bag, but her sweater reinforced this perception.

This girl knew what was going on though, and told you about it all in one paragraph:

I mean, it’s definitely the most words I’ve seen on a single piece of clothing, but at least it was a good message. Here’s a closer look at the whole paragraph:

I like the idea of mixing and matching sartorial cultures, but not the kind where a Chinese person just buys an entire outfit from a French or Italian luxury brand. China has some valid history, culture, and ideas to mix with the Western world, and I think Chinese people just need to adapt Western sartorial culture rather than simply adopt the whole thing. Let’s hope this happens, but that’s as likely as Chinese people being subtle or ironic with their clothing, and that’s a bit of a way off still…