Oriental Express

 I’m sure by now that if you’ve read a few posts of mine, you’ll realise that I’m rather partial to fiddling with all sorts of ethnic dress to make it more fashion-y. Somewhat ironically (seeing as I am half Chinese) I find altering traditionally/stereotypically Chinese garments like this blouse some of the most challenging, although sometimes they turn out beautifully! It’s the tops that are trickiest because the mandarin collar really marks an item as “oriental”. 

However, as you might also have guessed by now, I’m terrible at throwing things out, so I generally do persist in my efforts to make the garment current and wearable. I used to wear this blouse quite a lot – my dad found it at a garage sale for $1 (you can guess where I got my bargain hunting skills!) and sent it to me when I was living in Japan. I love the detail of the gymnasts!

I don’t have any recent “before” shots of it even though I’m sure I took some, but here I am modelling the blouse in a very, VERY before shot – I remember having this photo taken just before I started work at Vogue Nippon at the end of 1999 and getting a happy snap to mark the occasion! (yes, I know, I look about 15 years old!! What was I thinking wearing pigtails like that!? Maybe I was copying the look of the gymnasts on the shirt?)

The loose fit really did nothing to flatter my figure so I’ve been meaning to update this shirt since about, oh, 1999… hmm, better late than never!? I’ve put five long darts in to make it more fitted: one on either side up the front, one up the centre back and one on either side of that. And now it looks like this! (Maybe an idea to keep in mind if you have a loose-fitting top that you want to update, Chinese or otherwise!)

I also made the skirt I’m wearing. I think this hot pink is a great colour to lift any “ethnic” piece as it’s so uncompromisingly contemporary. My bag is from a market in Malaysia and I just found these shoes at an op shop recently. The sunnies were a present, although I think their retail price was a little bit more than the blouse!!