Appropriate dress for Western women

I am a 27 yr. old Californian who will be coming to Taipei for the summer. I was planning to bring the same type of clothes that I would wear on a hot day in LA because I have heard that Taipei will be hot and humid. I wanted to get an idea of whether or not that type of dress (short shorts and skirts, tank tops) will be considered offensive or inappropriate. I am coming to Taipei to study Chinese, not for business purposes so I don’t expect to be in any formal settings. I know that I will stand out as a Westerner, but I don’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to myself. I want to be comfortable and keep cool. Any advice would be appreciated.

If you’re female… :stuck_out_tongue:
But in Taiwan, breasts are rarely seen flopping about and nipples are typically concealed from public viewing, dissimilar to California fashion. You can always pick up double padded baby blue bras here.

Apparently I’m from the wrong part of California! I don’t remember seeing that kind of fashion… :stuck_out_tongue:

You’d be fine wearing any of that in Taipei I think. IMHO, tanktops would be fine, but the short shorts may or may not grab more attention that you’d like. Many, many people wear tube tops and tankstops, so that’s not an issue. Many girls also wear short shorts, but I’d suggest slightly longer shorts, at least when you go to class.

Maybe I’ve been away from summertime USA for too long, but I seem to remember a lot of American females are unashamed of going braless under tanktops or at least not wearing ten tons of padding to hide their nipples. You never see nips in Taiwan, which I thought was one of the points behind not being able to find “unpadded” bras for sale here. They also sell those nipple covers (without tassells), and nipple lightening creams. Watch any Hollywood film and you’ll usually get an eyeful. Grant it, they probably ask Cameron Diaz to pinch them a bit before shooting…

I hope no one is trying to dissuade a 27-year-old Califonication babe from wearing sexy, summer wear! :smiley:

I’ve seen plenty of nipples showing through shirts in Taiwan. But then I’m probably looking a little harder than you are Alien. :slight_smile:

ah-ha… I thought you meant seeing actual nipples, Alien. Not seeing nipplage through clothing. And some of that nipplage in CA may be because the Pacific is quite cold most of the time… :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, I see this thread going downhill quickly. Alien, you know you should never mention the word nipple on a Forumosa thread! :stuck_out_tongue:

TigerW, I wouldn’t worry too much about what you wear most of the time; just be aware of respecting certain places (temples, possibly classrooms, etc.), and be prepared for amorous glances.

How come no one’s mentioned that it isn’t all that easy to find true american-sized clothing? Plus, US sizes/shapes somehow don’t translate to Asian sizes/shapes. I don’t think those baby blue double-padded bras are going to fit. For that matter, it’s not easy to find unpadded bras in Asia.

For US sized clothing you can sometimes get some great deals at the outlets in Tienmu. Then there’s always with your tape measure and Paypal account.

If you’re picky about undergarments though, I suggest bringing some with you from the states. Those aren’t as easy to buy thru mailorder (like bras) and I’ve never been able to find any here that fit well.

My Taipei Baby

Tiger, I think the only way to be sure is to come to the Oriented happy hour, held on the last Thursday of each month. I’ll organize a committee consisting of some of the more -ahem- “upstanding members” of the Oriented comunity, you wear your most risqu

There are some big differences I noticed between the climate in (Southern) California and Taipei:

  • It is much more humid, American clothing tends to be thicker, whereas Chinese clothing is very thin (so it drys quickly and does not cling). For women, thin cotton dresses. For men and women, light short sleeve shirts and pants made from lightweight material. Wear a vest if you sweat easily in humid conditions.

  • It is not cold at night. California, even in summer is chilly at night due to the desert condition. You will not need extra clothes at night to keep warm.

  • It rains (except for this year perhaps). Padded absorbant coats are useless since they get wet. Bring a light shower resistant jacket and an umbrella.

In US terms, Taiwan’s climate is more like the US south or Florida.

In business settings office wear is fairly conservative, but not usually formal. Everything is kept pretty much covered up. Women tend to dress fasionably. Mens officewear tends not to follow fashion, most choose dress shirts worn with open collar and slacks. Shorts, vests, t-shirts etc are rarely seen. Use of strong perfume in the office is unusual.

Buy your pants here. The fabric is thinner and more comfy in the summer. If you are a shorter Westerner, you’ll find the clothes here fit a lot better, even if a Taiwan “L” is a Western “M”. This sounds shallow, but try to get a couple designer things. Trust me, you’ll fit in better, look better, and people won’t think you’re a pathetic foreignor who couldn’t make it in your home country.

BWAHAHAHAHA! Losers don’t buy designer clothes! Now I’ve heard everything!

OK, OK, I admit it. I’m just as guilty of being shallow and ostentatious. That’s why, whenever I feel I’m being looked at as if I’m a loser foreigner, I just drop my keks and flash my … Calvin Kleins! Well, they’re designer, aren’t they?

Oh, c’mon Sandman, you know what I mean. Labels are big here and sometimes it pays to fit in. I certainly didn’t mean to offend people that aren’t Label Whores like me. Sandman, honey, as long you’re not doing the G-string coming out of the lowcut jeans thing that seems to be arriving here, I’m sure you’re doing just fine.

Whenever I wore shorts in Taipei I received looks that were different from when I dressed more conservatively. Personally, I try to avoid being stared at. That happens without trying just because I’m a foreigner. Women are very conservative here and frankly, a lot of their styles seem to be quite old-fashioned to me. I like the styles, though. Women like to look feminine. They aren’t “liberated” like the women are in North America. They still wear high-heels, short skirts and tight pants. They can because most of them have beautiful figures. They swing their hips when they walk. I think we all stopped doing that back in the early 1970’s. My suggestion is to bring conservative clothes that leave little flesh showing (short-sleeved tops are o.k., though. Even in 30 degree+ weather, I see some people wearing long sleeves and long pants. I wear long pants or longish skirts now except on my day off (Sunday). If you have slender hips and thighs and small breasts, you will be able to buy Chinese fashions, otherwise, bring lots of clothes from home. Do remember, the clothes you will bring are heavier weight than what you can buy here. You might find some things in TienMu or Costco (jeans). These women have extremely skinny arms, so many sweaters for sale might be too tight on you. I am a small woman but have to buy “large” sized pants because of the north American-sized hips. Any female I’ve seen wearing spaghetti-strap tops sticks out like an even bigger sore thumb when I see her amongst a crowd of Chinese people.

Autumn489, I hope you aren’t telling TigerW to wear long skirts. I hate the ankle-length skirts that Taiwanese women wear. They look like something from the 1930’s. Every time I see one, I feel like I’ve been through a time warp. I have to keep asking myself “What year is this?!”

What’s this about Taiwanese women dressing conservatively? Sometimes I look at people my age on the street, train, bus, and think either they’ve got really bad taste, or I’ve totally lost my fashion sense. I still can’t get over all the velvet, sequins, and polyester. (I have some polyester too, but isn’t that the worst fabric ever for this climate?)

My Taipei Baby

I think skirt lengths should be chosen depending on personal factors and what is attractive for the individual. No, I’m not advocating ankle length skirts exclusively but rather a variety of lengths. I get tired of wearing long pants and like a change so vary it with dresses and skirts of different lengths but never halfway up the thigh. I think TigerW might feel embarrassed wearing short shorts and a tank top in the heart of Taipei. It’s amazing how we feel the need to conform to remain within our comfort zones. Maybe she’d be o.k. at the beach, though.

I stick by my comment that Taipei has a lot of conservative dressers. I’m thinking of the business crowd that I see out and about during the day. Of course, depending on the time of day and the location in the city, you will see a variety of styles in dressing. No comments like this one on conservative dressing are ever cast in stone by me.

Hi TigerW. Even though I’m 5’4" and M/L in the U.S., I don’t bother shopping for clothes here in Taiwan because of my proportions. As others have mentioned, if you have a thin, boyish frame, then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem, but if you have a bust and other curves, bring all that you need.

Essentials are good underwear, bras (Alien, I thought the bras are always padded here b/c the women don’t have much to fill them with), and shoes. My shoe size is 8.5W/9M, and I have trouble finding shoes here. For shoes, I recommend a comfortable pair of nicer looking sandals that can handle the humidity (i.e. Birkenstocks would quickly smell and don’t look dressy enough).

Clothes fabrics in the U.S. are heavier than in Asia, so look for the lightest weight cotton and linen. For fabric weave, I think pique and seersucker (the waffle-y texture) work well.

I prefer wearing knee-length skirts (cooler than pants, nicer looking than shorts), and short-sleeve or sleeveless tops, and dresses. I’m also from L.A., but having spent the past five years living in Boston, I think I dress a bit less beach-like now.

Another option you might consider, depending on your budget, is to arrive with some stuff and get clothing made here. I recently found a good tailor, and I’ve never worn a more comfortable button-down shirt–and for the same price I paid for a button-down shirt on sale at a J. Crew outlet store last year. I think the tailor is best for more professional wear (not for casual clothing), but you can “stock up” before returning to the U.S. The tailor also works best if you know what you want and stay firm. Otherwise, you’ll be led towards Taiwanese preferences, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your personal style. Email me if you would like the contact info.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

OK, I’ve been in Taipei for almost two weeks now. When I realized that it was even hotter here than I anticipated I decided I was going to wear whatever the hell I wanted and I haven’t looked back. I’ve even seen some Taiwanese women wearing skirts that are just as short and tight as my own so I"m not concerned.

As for shopping, I find many of the styles for women to be too cutesy for my tastes. However, I am very petite so buying clothes here will not be a problem for me if I am so inclined.

Thanks to all for the (mostly) helpful advice! :rainbow: