Ultimate Guide To… Underpants

We enter the underbelly of (China) fashion and contemplate that ever-pressing panties pickle: Shall we be stringed along by social command or go rogue and get cheeky? 

As ancient times prescribed your outer wardrobe to be sorted according to social rank instead of personal taste, Chinese women used their lingerie to express their individuality through design.

Stretch-lace boy shorts, black briefs, nude cheekies, barely-there T-strings, whatever they may be S-strings, ever-effective hipsters, thongs or going for a big lunch high-waisted, the list of a woman’s closest friends is a long one. And then we always have the commando option — very popular with VIPs and vegans — to boot. Whereas Jane Doe has already decided that she shall pull the strings herself and not be commanded by society in the “to thong or not to thong” debate, Jane Wang has only been exposed to the wide range of underwear available on racks over the past few years. This is not to say that the undergarment in China only came into fashion in the 21st century, no Sir.

About rank and lift

As ancient times prescribed your outer wardrobe to be sorted according to social rank instead of personal taste, Chinese women used their lingerie to express their individuality through designs and craftsmanship. From square- to triangular-shaped, from a smooth comfortable style (如意, ruyi) to natural inspirations, from fading hues to razor-sharp red, the varied visual impressions show off  the creativity of those Chinese fashionistas avant-la-lettre. From the Tang Dynasty’s (618-907) heavy and up-lifting hezi (诃子) reflecting the era’s economic and cultural prosper and openness, to the Qing dynasty’s (1644-1912) diamond-shaped silk dudou (肚兜), every era in China’s extensive history has had its own Victoria’s Secret moment. The designs share longevity too; just think of favorite saucy minx lingerie designer Irene Lu and her dudous. Nevertheless, anno 2016, the hezi has made way for the pushup (bra).

 Cleavage paves the way to attaining that ” banging’ body.” A Wonderbra makes for some wunderbar boobage.

Wonderbra makes for Wunderbar

Personally, I like to lift them up where they belong e basta — no need to have them up high, where the eagles fly. Contrary to my popular opinion, the 20/30-something Chinese woman walking down the street swears by her trusted pushup available at your small sock shop. This love affair has probably been forged and forced by modern Chinese society’s views on what makes for a “banging’ body”: That Wonderbra makes for some wunderbar boobage. As far as the lower gear goes, it seems Vogue China’s Editor-in-Chief Angelica Cheung could no longer bear the sight of badly Bridget Jones-styled behinds and decided to get to the bottom, hardy har har, of China’s fashionable under-world.  She created the ultimate guide to the underpants do’s and don’ts. 

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The brief collection of underclothes nonos discussed in the “Are you wearing your knickers correctly?” segment may prove correcting for many.

From “correct” to “correcting”

However condescending the above may sound, i.e. laying down the lingerie laws to your reader collective, more goes on behind the scenes. Looking through the Cheung glass, Vogue China serves as a pictorial tutorial to the budding Chinese fashionista. As she once stated in an interview with Stylist’s Harriet Quick, “It is to do with the influence of the magazine. China is such a big market with so many women who are just waking up to fashion and secondly, it is to do with the fact that we set a totally new bar with Vogue, the pace, the attitude, the fashion and, to a lesser extent, because we have become a spokesperson for what Chinese women like.” The lady is correct.

Vogue China shows women what’s out there. Whether it’s deciding on what style to wrap your hiney in (方形臀适合的内裤) or on what to wear with which garment, such as combining your A-line skirt with body shorts (伞裙+平角底裤) should you choose to prevent any Marilyn mishaps, Vogue China dishes the deets. In Cheung’s words, “Young people need guidance, they don’t need Vogue to tell them what to do, but to treat them as friends, subtly influencing them to become responsible adults.” And it’s not just about educating Jane Wang. Despite the article being in Chinese, I’d say Jane Doe might also benefit from a peek at the pics. The brief collection of underclothes nonos discussed in the “Are you wearing your knickers correctly?” (你的底裤穿对了吗?) segment may prove correcting for many. After all, both Doe and Wang want things to be perky and pert down under, not clinched and pinched. Just get cheeky with it.

 

And as far as those pushups go… Girls, go get measured. Don’t try to measure up.

 

Photos: Vogue China