By Murray Greig
Disclaimer: The writer is a socially awkward and emotionally stunted Canadian whose high school graduation class voted him “most likely to be found dead in a cheap hotel room.” Since he is barely capable of dressing himself, any inference of sartorial acumen in the following commentary should be taken under advisement.
As summer’s swelter envelops Beijing like an endless strip of sweat-soaked gauze, it’s painfully apparent that this great city, blessed with some of the most beautiful and stylish women on the planet, is also home to an expanding legion of dorky men who believe the ideal way to beat the heat is to roll up their trousers to knee level and hike their shirts above their beer bellies.
Sad, but true.
Let’s state the obvious: Any man who feels compelled to advertise his love of pijiu by transforming a shirt and pants into the ubiquitous ‘Beijing bikini’ should be embarrassed. What is the thought process here, guys? Are you simply too cheap to spring for normal hot-weather attire, or are you genuinely convinced that ‘slovenly’ equates to ‘cool’?
As a fellow fashion-challenged misfit with a decades-long reputation for inappropriate dress, I can see how rolled-up trousers and half a shirt might be a comfortable combination while stumbling home after a night of barroom debauchery – but definitely not on a bustling sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon … and especially not in mixed company.
That goes double for taxi drivers.
On a recent scorching Saturday at Lido Park, a friend and I counted 13 BB-clad guys. Most were flying solo, but the few sorry saps accompanied by female companions were totally oblivious to their lady’s unmistakable reticence to engage in close contact. In every instance, the wife or girlfriend was smartly dressed, which only served to spotlight a visual dichotomy almost as wretch-inducing as the emasculated puppy dogs that dutifully tote their woman’s purse or the cooing couples who insist on wearing matching outfits.
Not that I’m without empathy. As holder of China Daily’s unofficial title of ‘worst dressed foreigner’ for four straight years, woeful wardrobe choices have become something of a personal trademark. My favorite color combo is black with camouflage, and I figure a sleeveless T-shirt (preferably adorned with a politically incorrect slogan or image), track pants and a Yankees baseball cap are perfectly acceptable as formal wear. But I have a perfectly plausible excuse: I’m old and beyond hope. And unlike proponents of the ‘Bejing bikini,’ I have no delusions about my image in the mirror – or in the eyes of passers-by.
So take it from one of your own; it’s a simple question of optics. There’s a subtle difference between dressing casually and dressing like you’re auditioning for a guest shot on Homeless but Happy.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. Just ask all those pretty ladies that are keeping their distance.