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Stylish wedded bliss
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Among other things, 2008 is an auspicious year for weddings. Some men will inevitably succumb to being married and most will attend a wedding or two. Reject the example of local grooms and best men who appear at their wedding as they do when meeting a particularly influential client. But complex rules governing formal attire are alien to Beijingers and foreigners here tend to be of the defiantly laid-back type. What often remains is the dubious project of blending East and West in wedding attire. Even weddings between foreigners often attempt to incorporate Chinese influences in attire, so we might forgive a Westerner trying to show the bride’s family cultural sensitivity with a dragon or phoenix adorning his lapels.

With a standard single-breasted, peaked lapel, one-button coat – the best cut for formally festive occasions – the two basic ways of incorporating Chinese elements involve silk highlights and closing methods. Silk fabric with a Chinese style texture or print on the lapels, matching the stripes on the trousers will wow discerning peasants. Similar silk as piping on the pockets, trousers, or covering on the buttons is a subtler option, while the concealed route is to use this silk under the collar instead of felt or as a lining for the coat. An attractive and traditional choice is to simply substitute a Chinese toggle closure for the button.

Actual Chinese cuts should be approached with caution. The China Hand who normally lacks panache risks becoming “Sino-Chump” when he dons a Mandarin collared jacket for his wedding, especially one with a Chinese pattern. Only the slim, tall, and unconventionally stylish should attempt this, and even these men should avoid overly “Chinesey” fabrics. Mao suits are only appropriate for marriages to Party members.

Those determined to economize must rely on custom accessories. Commission a bow tie and matching cummerbund or vest in a black pattern. A white silk self-patterned pocket square or red socks with dragons might also do the trick. An old standard, the detachable pigtail, will sinicize any outfit.

One basic guideline remains: Wedding attire is determined by season and time of day. Never wear a full black ensemble prior to sunset. Formality gives way between May and September and lighter colors should be worn for daytime weddings. For the coming summer months, a white or khaki linen suit is preferable to a business suit for daytime weddings.

In conclusion, be subtle. Remember, weddings are about the bride and these Chinese touches run the risk of having the groom outshine her through his quirkiness, even if they do impress her earthy relatives from Miyun or Henan.

(thatsbj.com May 28, 2008)

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