Added: Jody Bryce - Date: 11.08.2021 19:17 - Views: 17553 - Clicks: 2383
My first day In Kaifeng, I walked up to a tall young lady in blue slacks and cap and multi-coloured Russian print shirt. The young man turned around. That was when I took up the local custom of addressing everybody as comrade. I was liberated in Shanghai. During the years of warfare civilian cadres in the liberated areas, like the army, received their clothing as government issue, blue uniforms in the stiff-collared style named after Dr Sun or a belted jacket with turn-down collar and slash pockets.
Shanghai, which is very fashion-conscious, promptly took unto itself this new wardrobe. Just as promptly this situation brought down the attention of the Shanghai authorities.
Office and professional workers are all making national style blue uniforms, and the workers, with improved wages, are making them for dress wear. If housewives, too, insist on wearing blue uniforms, the people who need the material will not be able to buy it and textiles distribution will be thrown out of t. If you have good clothes, wear them.
Without much further urging, Shanghai women struck a compromise. The inconvenient drinking-straw silhouette Chinese gowns were already being replaced before liberation by slacks for informal wear, with finger-tip length fitted jackets of Chinese cut, with high collars, slash pockets, and a zipper or fancy buttoned front, or Western-style blouses worn over the slacks in summer.
After the first orgy of blue uniforms, the comfortable uniform jackets women wore the soft collar style were used as suit coats over blouses, sweaters, or mandarin jackets. Chinese gowns became smarter and even more unmanoeuvrable, with extremes of four-inch-high collars, small fitted waists and ankle lengths, and were reserved for dressy occasions.
Even there they met competition from the mandarin jackets in silk or satin. Honan, of which province Kaifeng is the very ancient capital, is one of those agricultural provinces a long, long way from the latest styles. After the liberation the flock of new civilian workers and those taken over from the former government followed in this tradition with enthusiasm. Chinese women did not choose personally choose this revulsion with style. The villain, as always, was the man. As long as a man retains a sufficient casual appearance i.
At my first wedding here I sat looking at the couple, natty in their belted blue uniforms and white shirt collars. It got to be a wonder that there were any weddings at all. Some comrades are short — and probably female; other comrades are tall — and presumably, male.
But most are sort of in-betweenish, and proposing must have been a risky job. It was the Russian prints that confused me. We had taken them in our stride in Shanghai, with no need of urging to buy them like hot cakes.
In Kaifeng, however, they were harder to move. Eventually the Honan Government had to issue an order that the Russian prints in stock must be bought up as a gesture of fraternal solidarity and assistance to the frantic General Goods Company. Since women would have the world about their ears if they departed an inch from the standard blue, black, white, or grey, this patriotic duty was left to the men. They broke out in a technicolor rash from undershirts to overcoats that would make the conservative Hawaiian sports shirt blush. I admit that the next year some of the older married men insisted that their wives should finish wearing the things out at home.
As in every other field, however, the Soviet experts came to our relief.
A great campaign was started, through radio and press, to dress our women in style. The men, who had been denouncing women as counter-revolutionaries if they wore coloured ribbons on their braids, and the government retail stores, whose clothing departments looked upon variety as the same style of uniform in all sizes to fit the family, came in for merciless lampooning at the hands of political cartoonists. In Kaifeng, arrival of large s of pretty young nursing school graduates from Shanghai to work in local hospitals settled the matter. I am living at a factory an hour out of town, isolated from the cosmopolitan world.
Our girls steal into town to buy pretty materials for new blouses. This year all the Kaifeng women are getting permanents. Our girls look at them enviously and dare each other to go and get the first one. Never mind, no one is so isolated that the Party will overlook her problems for long. From the Guardian archive Fashion. The sartorial revolution in China - archive, Maoist family, Shirley Wood.
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