When the Orient meets the Occident
Posted on 05 June 2013
Ni Hao! I meant ‘Hello folks’! It’s Chinese! No, I wasn't practicing Chinese. Just that, every time I wear my Mandarin shirts I feel like someone from the Qing dynasty. From the land of Imperial China to the wartime British army uniforms, to being the modern day fashionista’s choice, the Mandarin collar has evolved to become a pleasantly puzzling blend of the Oriental and the Occidental!
Well, there is no dated record as to when, where and how the Mandarin Collared shirts originated but it surely dates back to Imperial China, when court officials of Qing dynasty wore uniforms with such collars, until the fall of the empire. Later, Sun Yat-Sen, a Chinese revolutionary, popularized this collar style, which also came to be known as the Mao suit (after the great Mao Tse Tung) and represented the attire of the Han dynasty.
During the World Wars, the British army adopted the Chinese collar style, to be eventually called the ‘Cadet Collar’ or the ‘Band Collar’. But despite its royal lineage, the Mandarin Collar never caught on in the occidental fashion! Never knew why. Didn’t you mostly see them on priests, soldiers and Hollywood villains!
But as cynical as fashion is, Mandarin collars came back to our clothing arsenal to become one of those must haves for men!
THE CHINESE COLLAR THE ENGLISH WAY!
A shirt isn't a shirt if it’s got no collar! Says who? No one, but we men jolly well know what a ‘shirt’ means to us! But thanks to the Chinese (this time, genuinely), we have a shirt that saves us the need for a neck-wear!
Sport a jacket, or a sweatshirt or a sports coat on top of a simply woven Mandarin shirt in cotton or silk blend, for that crisp tailored look and you are good to go for a dinner date.
For a more casual situation, we recommend a thin Mandarin or Band collar shirt, with sleeves rolled up with the top button open (another one would call for style alert!). Get liberal with colors like pinks, reds and blues. Get classic with a touch of hippie flair!
Much ado about wearing business suits? Wear a pristine white or black Mandarin shirt, with a tuxedo will get heads turning at a wedding or any formal occasion! Whether the heads will turn in admiration or repulsion or sheer surprise, is not something I myself am sure of! So, man up and take that chance fellahs!