Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fashion pointers by the ayi

Be careful with your fabric choices..

The weather is funny right now. It’s freezing in my flat unless I turn on the air con, which (when turned on) quickly makes it sauna hot (the pros of living in a tiny flat!). Then I get out in the hallway while waiting for the elevator: cold! Outside: quite cold during the mornings, although lately it’s been on the verge of hot. Hard to know if you should wear a scarf or not. Then: metro: A crowded, crammed sauna of people sneezing and coughing on each other. I hate it! Fortunately I don’t have to travel too far until I get to my office, which is… cold during the mornings (like, freezing) and then OK during the afternoon (the management is yet to activate the air conditioners, as for now we cannot use them because it’s not “cold enough” outside (I think it has to be below 16 degrees for 5 consecutive days for us to be able to use the air con –energy saving rules).

As a result of this, I’m having serious difficulties getting dressed each morning (as if picking an outfit itself wasn’t hard enough, now I also has to dress heat/cold friendly?!). To solve this matters, however, I have stacked up at work with a mini wardrobe a la Jonna. There I keep flat shoes (for bad day when you just wanna get home quickly), high heels (for spontaneous outings), suit jackets (you never know who you might meet) and some knitted cardigans that I believe are warm and look good. That was, until yesterday when I went to the bathroom wearing one of them.

In the bathroom I ran into our floor ayi: a middle-aged Chinese woman whose responsibilities includes cleaning the floor outside the elevators, and the bathrooms. It’s not a huge space, and she shares it with two other cleaners as well, so she spends a lot of time hanging out at the women’s bathroom, leaning against the sink, or (if tired I assume), locking herself into a toilet stall to sit and play games on her mobile phone. We usually exchange a word or two when we meet, and yesterday when she saw me, she said:

-How are you today? Going for lunch soon?

-Yes. What about you?

-I’ve already been.


(This is normally where our conversations end).

-Hey…your clothes. Do you make them yourself?

I stopped for a moment. My Chinese listening skills are quite good by now… although… I must have heard wrong this time…

-What? Sorry, what were you saying?

-The cardigan that you are wearing! Did you make it yourself?

-Eh… no.

-OK! Well then, bye bye!!!

-Eh… bye.

I went back into my office in silence, thoughts playing ping-pong in my head.

“I’ve never been able to knit… so maybe I should take it as a compliment? She thinks I’m one of those cool, DIY girls that knits in front of the telly every night?! I've always envied those girls!”

(Although is knitting considered cool in China, the consumer’s paradise? And should I even be wearing knitted stuff in my office building -where the dress code is kind of business formal? Have I let myself go because of this bloody weather?)

After 15 minutes of head war I finally decided that looking as if you’re wearing homemade clothes isn’t considered that cool (especially not where I work -and let's face it, I couldn't even knit the arm of anything), and that my warm and cosy cardigan must go. Immediately.

But who would have thought that it would be the ayi telling me?!


m--e said...

ALL of the ayis knit... you see them doing it everywhere. Plus, you can actually go to shops where they will knit cashmere sweaters and such for you! So I think you are over-reading the comment. Also, how many ayis are fashion conscious? Most think pink, red and orange are matching colors!!

Living in China you have the luxury of wearing whatever you want! Pajamas on the street? No problem!

Anonymous said...

i agree with m--e. You're over analysing her compliment. Nothing more.

Jonna Wibelius said...

U guys are soooo right, it's just me being silly and shallow. Well, good for me then that I didn't throw away that cardigan that I, no matter how ugly it might look, I still love.. hihi!