Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fashion Design By My MIL

If Seoul is the new fashion capital of the world, then this place is its polar opposite. True that the younger generation in China seems to be grasping the concept of dressing to impress, or at very least, dressing in such a way that didn’t look like you left the house in an urgent hurry to escape a fire (or say, a random visit from your MIL), older women have little regard for dressing up. Or even just wearing something that simply matches. My MIL, as you have seen in previous photos on this blog, has no fashion sense. From what she wears to how she styles her hair, it’s as though she takes no pride in her appearance. And that is just fine if she wants to dress herself like she let a pack of blind, homeless people pick her wardrobe and cut her hair. But it’s not ok if she wants to pick out clothes for my husband, my baby or especially me. 

Let’s take a look at some of these vile items she’s chosen for us, shall we?

First up, this hideous long-sleeve shirt she bought for my husband during winter. To his credit, my husband had cleverly stashed it in the closet in what is now the baby’s room, thinking it would never see the light of day. It was a nice try, I’ll give him that. But when we cleaned out the clutter of extra items his parents had stored in there (despite their pleas as they so wanted to still be able to stay over in the extra bed whenever they felt like it to invade our privacy further), my poor husband had to play dumb like he’d forgotten all about the atrocious, grandpa-style shirt she bought him. My husband can rest easy though…I have taken the liberty of hiding this alleged garment in the back of one of our drawers in our dresser, where her presence is forbidden, thus ensuring he will never, ever have to wear it.

Next, this cheaply-made sleeper for the baby. IN PINK. Because despite her thinking that she truly believes I’ll be popping out a boy, she just had to get something pink. With ugly (almost frightening) cartoons on it. And you might be able to tell from this photo how the crotch area is just open. Yes, for some reason, in China, they love having the diaper hanging out. What, you couldn’t get something with some fucking snaps on it? I don’t want my kid’s diaper dragging around on the ground, thank you. Fortunately, this is the only baby garment she bought in this style because I told her I preferred snaps at the crotch instead (another big thanks to the Google translator for that one). So, to my soon-to-be-born baby, Mommy promises you that whether you’re a boy or a girl, I will not dress you in this awful outfit unless: 1) you poop and/or pee on everything else and it is the only clean item 2) Grandma wants a picture of you in it or 3) I leave you with Grandma and she dresses you up in it (and if she does, I’ll inquire about changing the locks once and for all). And I will never let you leave the house in it either, Mommy swears!

And here we have what should have been something lovely that turned horribly, horribly wrong. In Chinese tradition, the new bride (that’s me!) is supposed to go with her MIL to get a jacket made for the Chinese new year. If you’ve ever seen those gorgeous Chinese dresses (pictured just below), the jacket is supposed to be something similar. Emphasis on SUPPOSED TO BE. This should have been fun on so many levels what with the shopping and designing of a garment that would be made just for me. But it wound up being absolute torture.

(gorgeous Chinese dress):
For starters, my in-laws came over the night before for dinner and stayed the night. I wasn’t pleased by this but I married a Chinese man and I didn’t want to complain about the tradition of a family dinner together for the Chinese New Year. This meant that, unfortunately, they would have to stay the night because they live a bit far from here and the bus to their home wouldn’t be running by the time we finished eating (the good news these days is that now that we’ve decorated the baby’s room and removed the extra bed, they can never again stay over here EVER!). As my husband and I lay in bed reading, with limited privacy from that damned 70’s curtain, he tells me that instead of his parents leaving first thing in the morning when he leaves for work, his mom will be taking me to get fitted for this traditional wedding jacket.  I’m about in tears over this. I just want them to go away. I don’t want to be seen in public with her, even if we are going shopping, something I absolutely love doing with my mom (perhaps because my mom doesn’t dress like she’s 102, has beautiful hair and doesn’t even look close to her actual age). But this is important to Xiaolong and I love him. So I put on a brave smile and tell him I’ll go and he promises to make it all up to me (which he did, incidentally, with jewelry and a wonderful trip to Shanghai). 

Despite my trepidation of what kind of store she would possibly take me to, we walk into this fabulous place. It’s filled with rolls and rolls of fabric, most of them quite gorgeous. And there are sample dresses up on the walls and all of them are incredible. I’m mentally taking notes on them so that I can have my husband buy them for me after I have the baby. Suddenly, my MIL comes to a halt in front of one roll of fabric. It feels cheap and looks so ugly, I wouldn’t even make a table cloth out of it. I tap her arm urgently, pointing at 2 different rolls of fabric just adjacent that are of fantastic quality and design. But no, she’s made up her mind. My MIL has decided she wants to dress me like a 90-year-old waiting for death rather than a 34-year-old about to be a mom.

Next, they must take measurements so the jacket can fit me perfectly. Now I’m unhappy as can be. I know all too well what this will end up looking like. I have a brief glimmer of hope when the lady measuring me points at the mannequins behind me and gives us style options to choose from. Yes! Maybe we can save it after all! I point to one with these beautiful Chinese-style hook buttons that are sewn in a wrap-effect way across the chest, giving it something more than just the straight-down look, which would also be more flattering with my ever-growing pregnant belly. But as quickly as my hopes rise, my MIL ruins everything and insists on the straight-down look. I’m blatantly frowning at this point but she’s oblivious. To top it off, I just want to stab her and everyone else in the store from being subjected to the horrid Chinese New Year music again.

Several days later, the jacket is ready. This time, my husband goes with us. And I show him all the dresses I like. And then, we pick up the jacket. And my husband begins to laugh. I’m not laughing though. I knew it would come out looking this awful. It looked like something an old woman would love to wear. Or perhaps servers at a fancy Chinese restaurant would be forced to wear as a uniform. This poor jacket never stood a chance with my MIL as the designer.  As you can see from the photo, it is hideous. My husband even said something to his mom, telling her that she should have let me pick the fabric and style and that I have impeccable taste. But it was clear she wanted to be in charge of something. He promised that after we have the baby, he’d take me back to get one of the dresses I liked made for me. Until then, he said I could shove that in the back of our armoire and that is where it is and shall be unless I am forced to be photographed in it.

And finally, the worst for last!

The wedding jacket was definitely one of the worst things ever. But there is one thing even worse than that. And she got it for ME. How lucky I am! Again, it is from the little old lady collection of clothes. She bought this in winter when she would come over and get upset that I wasn’t wearing long sleeves inside our HEATED home. With flannel pants on, I was just too hot and would sweat, thanks to my hormones, from wearing long sleeves. So she picked up this old lady vest to give me an extra layer without making me too hot. The pattern…the colors…the cut…oh, there are no words.

It is painful to look at, isn’t it? With my husband’s blessing, this too has been tucked away until we can send it back to the vortex of all things old lady where it properly belongs.

1 comment:

  1. Makes a person yearn for the fashionable uniforms of Chairman Mao.