Keeping up with the changing seasons is tough, but in Beijing, where quality clothing for men must be tailor-made or shipped-in (either option requiring several weeks), now is the time to plan spring and summer wardrobes. Beyond the weather, what will be hot this spring/summer? A quick glance at the runways reveals some styles most men will excitedly shun.
Nice Miuccia Prada again vindicates the nerd herd, suggesting sandals with socks can be awesome. She seemed alone in this particular affront to cool, but Junya Watanabe, Stefano Pilati, Dries Van Noten and others concur that cropped or rolled-up trousers and denim are the choice calf-ventilating method for ’08. Maybe on some men –on others it exudes “washed out artiste trying too hard” or “hutong fashionista.” Still, at least the rolling-up of trousers can be reversed; the single-shoulder-revealing tops proposed by Armani do not include a matching patch to be sewn on after fashion slaves experience the embarrassment from wearing the thing. And not even the most adept tailor can snip the “MC Hammer” out of those dropped-crotch, multi-pleated Dior pants.
Nonetheless, please note that volume is back, both for Spring and Fall ’08. Now, when hitting happy hour, desk jockeys don’t have to imitate rock stars, with the tapering and tightness. Most men should still avoid the now-popular oversized jackets, and go for a fitted look on top, but more relaxed trousers are gentle on the anatomy, especially in humidity. Wide-leg linen trousers, even in a pajama style, are good for Beijing, though some of the linen sold at Daxin and Muxiyuan can be itchy as shirt material.
Speaking of linen, the time is now for that suit, or perhaps a safari jacket, both of which should be unlined. Khaki color is the classic but European mills increasingly produce linen and linen/wool blends in tweedy patterns like houndstooth and check. For a large bang at a lower price, go for a light-pink linen suit, also a runway favorite. On a polo or tee, pink has become distinctly chav or fratboy, and a tad Chuppy here, but there are still few men who dare the pink suit.
For the more reticent, a dash of intense color works in shoes, a shirt, a belt, or even a spring scarf made from linen or cotton. Check Allen in the basement of Oriental Plaza for a beautiful Italian scarf or Wayne’s for a more boring but reasonable version, or make your own with an old shirt. A scarf casually tossed on is appropriate for grungy but artsy Beijing, but please start using those shiny skinny ties, always worn slightly undone, as belts, or armbands, or tourniquets.