When a Chinese official gets dressed in the morning, he must choose his outfit with care. Don't be too flashy: the wrong watch or tie, and he could find himself criticized -- or worse. But nor should his fashion choices be too reminiscent of the peasant-style garb of leaders from the high-Communist era: wearing Mao suits today would make foreigners --vital to China's recent rise -- uncomfortable (not to mention those who suffered under Mao's rule). Constrained on both sides, Chinese political dress has trended toward a sort of lowest fashion denominator: black suits, white shirts, worn with dull, Windsor-knotted ties. It's what Beijing-based style blogger Nels Frye, writing in Foreign Policy, calls an "utterly unnoticeable look."
Now, with China facing its first leadership transition in a decade, clothing options are perhaps more rigid than ever. Calm and unity must be projected; stability, even of the sartorial kind, is paramount.
Above, President-to-be Xi Jinping waits behind current President Hu Jintao at a banquet in September 2012.
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