Chinese New Year Style, Shopping, & Survival Guide

November 29, 2013
This is my shopping post for Chinese New Year but one could easily wear these for Christmas. We are not that different after all; water and distance may separate East and West but at the heart of it all cultures wear bold colours and sparkly things to show off, especially during the festive period.


Looks like someone discovered the Doge meme. Such fun wow much capshuuunz

It is said that when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. This mantra resonates especially true with the kiasu (Hokkien: fear of losing) and competitive mentality of one who has been raised by conservative Chinese parents in a conservative Asian country predominated by a mixed ethnicity with open minds but ultimately live by a code of conservativeness that they rarely deviate far from. Confused? All you have to know is this---Chinese New Year is two months away, and if you haven't (secretly) started shopping for it then dishonour on you, dishonour on your family, dishonour on your cow. 

Contradicting the typical Chinese competitiveness, I've compiled a style guide of sorts in the hope that some will find it helpful and instructive in weathering the storm that is Chinese New Year. What about Christmas, you say? Please, everyone is just going to be wandering around in onesies, it's what Jesus wanted. But what about 'normal' New Year, you know, the Western one which date one can count on to be dependably and resolutely fixed? Well, does the first of January bring you before a critical audience of distant family to examine you and judge your life and it's choices based on just appearances (or rather the lack of, say, a fiance/husband)? No, I think not. Chinese New Year may be a public holiday but really, it is brutal, a trial by fire. 

This Chinese New Year, you can't help that you earn less than your mother's friend's daughter (she went to Yale!) nor can you help that X's son's friend just bought a five bedroom villa in Mont Kiara while you're still slumming it in a rented condo, but you can help being better dressed, better groomed, and  having the cool composure of one who has a quiet dignity and is above such petty comparisons.
  
Posh, Broke, & Bored style, shopping, & survival guide to The Year Of The Horse.
Only applies to women, because single Chinese men can't get away with good looks alone. Why your skin so smooth and your jeans so tight one? 你是同性恋吗?You gay ah? 

Everything is red and gold for obvious reasons.




Putting your best face forward (quite literally)
Dazzle your most annoying relatives into silence with a face made flawless with illuminating foundation, artfully highlighted with Touche Éclat, and any fatigue concealed with Cle De Peau concealer. Strike them dumb with bold red lips and red talons, if all else fails, bat puppy dog eyes framed with volumizing mascara. Your second aunty wants to be shallow and talk about your face? Well then, give her good face.


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The casual statement look
Can't deal with yet another grandaunt pinching your cheek and exclaiming how cute you are (nevermind the fact that you're almost 30) but can't tell the witch to back off because you are bound by the Chinese honour code of respecting your elders? Let your clothes do the speaking. This Céline Me Alone tee says everything you wouldn't dare to. Gold shorts and skirts dress up a casual and irreverent top, but if you want to emphasise the influence studying in England has had on you wear red jeans as a shout out to all the toffs you hung out with in uni. A red leather jacket finishes the whole thing off nicely by saying "Leather says I'm rock & roll and a non-conformist, but red alludes to my secret superstitiousness." You can take me out of China but you can't take the Chinese out of me...

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The 'I've had one too many bakkwas' dress
It is inevitable that one will consume far too many CNY cookies, pastries, and puffs. It is not, howevever, written in stone, that one must look like the bloated char siu bau that they feel like. These dresses with their flowing shapes, drapes, and generous room to breathe will conceal your multitude of sins and spare you from more annoying relatives patting your stomach (I hate that kind of familiarity!) and saying "Wahhh so fat ah? Cannot like this lah, later your husband dump you."  

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The roomy red handbag.
For stashing your essential survival kit (below), and of course the many angpaos that you will be either receiving or giving. Red is ong (auspicious, prosperous, fortuitous), and you want it on your purse and bag to attract more fortune.  

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I'm too glamorous for this.
So the old-timers have finally gone to bed and you can sneak off to join your friends at Zouk (that is, if your hometown is in KL, if you're from somewhere ulu then I'm sorry). Or maybe your family is super happening and your CNY house party is the house party to be seen at (Hola, Michiekins!). Either way, hold court as the queen of Chinese New Year in a stunning red number, again with strategically placed pleats, folds, and drapes to conceal the carb-related debauchery of the day. 

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Go for gold
So your parents' generation is dripping in gold jewellery, from bangles to rings to necklaces...and you kind of want to but daren't because a) you're afraid to get robbed (this is Malaysia, hey!) b) you're afraid you'll look too 'aunty' c) your gold jewellery is no match for Ah Ma's. Never mind that. Gild the lily and go for purses, bags, and tech cases dripped in gold. Matching gold manicure optional.

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Excesscories
Why stop there?! You're Chinese after all. All gold everything. You'll earn the respect of your elders with your commitment to being blinged to a fault. You can never be too tacky on Chinese New Year.
The Evelyn Knight cuff looks like it's made out of '8's (it's actually the infinity symbol) which is a plus because the Chinese word for eight is the same as prosperity. Huat ah!

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And finally,





Comfort essentials and survival basics. 
Girls, leave the circle lenses and coloured contacts at home. You're going to spend a lot of time squinting at mahjong tiles, staring at cards, and having your eyes stung by joss stick smoke. Give your eyes a rest and wear glasses, like these stylish tortoiseshell beauties from Oliver People. If you're hiao and going to wear lenses anyway, be smart about it and carry Lycée contact lens eye drops. Keep cool with an Evian mist spray and your tired dry hands moist with Laura Mercier hand lotion. Nobody wants rough, dry, cracking hands like a labourer (which is what your parents will say about your mitts if you don't keep them soft. Oh political incorrectness!). Spare your feet the trauma of standing in heels all day and keep some emergency ballet flats in your bag. Finally, stay sane and relieve boredom with a well-charged smartphone. It will be a long day with a lot of waiting in between, carry a portable charger so you can vent out your frustration on Angry Birds.

I hope you survive Chinese New Year, and remember, it's all worth it in the end because of these---



Unless of course you're married and will be giving out money instead in which case troLOLOLOLOL.

Good luck and happy shopping!



x

10 comments:

  1. like your first photo :) so Malaysian ~~~

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  2. I'm glad I saw this post. I too have been 'secretly' shopping for CNY for weeks now. Great post btw, you've captured the Malaysian essence in it :)

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    1. Thank you! MALAYSIA BOLEH!
      And good luck with your CNY shopping, may you be the MOST ONG of them all! Huat ahhhhh
      x

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  3. Thank you! MALAYSIA BOLEH!
    And good luck with your CNY shopping, may you be the MOST ONG of them all! Huat ahhhhh
    x

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  4. Hi Jasminne

    Landed here while surfing for wrap around dress......yah trying to do my Ong Ong shopping instead of the usual last minute. Very lovely and entertaining blog you have here

    xoxo
    Pam

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    1. Thank you Pam! Good luck with the CNY shopping. Ong bo? ;) x

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  5. bakkwas?? oh my !! u know urdu language ??? anyway I really like to read your blog, amusing ! ;)

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    1. I'm Malaysian. Malaysians know a bit of every language! x

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  6. Fantastic, enjoyed reading this so much!

    ReplyDelete