Taking a fashion cue from Chinese

September 12, 1996|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Six years ago I moved from Seattle to Hong Kong where I met and married a wonderful man from Taiwan. He is devoted to his country's heritage and likes me to dress in traditional Chinese clothes.

I have many cheong sams, the Hong Kong sheath dresses. They are fitted close to the body with high collars and an asymmetrical closing with loops instead of buttonholes. They are very comfortable as they have a slit up the side and no sleeves.

Now we are moving to Canada, and my husband wants me to keep the look. I'm not sure that's possible. Can you help?

It will be difficult, but not impossible. China has been an enormous inspiration for designers for centuries. And this is still true.

Even Giorgio Armani, the Italian designer who believes first and foremost in modern clothing, has interpreted Chinese detailing on his famous jackets.

"Asia is a constant source of fascination," he once told me. "The colors, the fabrics and the embroideries of the traditional clothes are extraordinary."

So you want to look for outfits that follow the slim silhouette and have some of the detailing of your cheong sams. When you do find something, consider buying it in two colors. That way you'll doubly please your husband.

I just returned from my cousin's wedding, and I've never seen a more distressing display at a religious event. I must admit that during the ceremony itself the bride wore a lovely traditional gown of white lace and the groom a tuxedo.

But for the reception they changed into biking clothes -- skin-tight shorts, racing shirts and sport socks -- and rode up to the hotel on a tandem bike.

They thought it was "cool" since they planned to honeymoon on a bicycle trip through France.

The reception invitation said that guests could wear "comfortable clothes," so their friends turned up in everything from ripped jeans to hippie skirts. It seemed outrageous to me, disrespectful of the seriousness of the vows. Don't you agree?

Well, it was certainly untraditional. But I do believe it is up to the bride and groom to choose the kind of reception they want.

On the other hand, your description of the dress for the church ceremony certainly indicates they agree with you about the solemnity of the vows.

And keep in mind that adherence to a dress code -- however you choose to interpret it -- is hardly a guarantee of a happy marriage.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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