Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Thai fashionista is at it again!


I spent a lot of time this morning ordering more clothes, getting ready for fall. This routine takes place twice a year or so when I place a large order for pants, skirts and tops.

My closet is filling up now and it's getting easier and easier each day to grab something and wear it without much thought. The pants above are a staple. I have them in every imaginable color. They're so comfortable that I can't resist them.

Tops are always harder. I have big.. um... well.. big b**bs. :) These clothes are made for smaller women so when I find something that works, I buy several at a time.

The blue one to the left specifically has become another staple. They're easy and comfortable so I buy several at a time in different colors.

Lately, I've been buying a lot more Hmong-influenced clothing. The bright colors and the embroidery appeal to me. I can feel the history and can imagine the individual artisans who make them. In fact, I saw plenty of it when I was actually there, buying these things from street vendors and small shops.

This look makes me happy and it never ceases to amaze me how many compliments I get. When I first decided to do this, I wasn't sure what kind of reaction I'd get. Would people just think I'd gone off the deep end, this very blond (out of the bottle, yes), heavyset, aging woman who dresses like the women we see in pictures of the Karen Hilltribe?

Strangely, the reaction has been very positive, including among the Thai population I know here. They seem to be flattered by my appreciation.

The truth is that when I wear these clothes, it isn't just because I like the fashion. When I see it, feel it and wear it, I feel history. Connection.

It seems as though I can smell the air and feel the humidity on my skin. I can imagine the women over the generations who made and wore these clothes.

When I was in Thailand, I saw very few people wearing these clothes, even in the Northeast which is where I feel most at home. They wore these kinds of things on special occasions. There were some older women who continued to wear it. For the most part, I saw lots of jeans and t-shirts, just like here. I thought it was unfortunate. It somehow detracts from the history and the culture. I was always enchanted when I saw someone wearing traditional clothes.

It made me want to sit and have tea with that person.

My spiritual teacher in Thailand, Ajahn S., always wears traditional clothes. He says it keeps him mindful and helps him remember his ancestors and the history that preceded him. He doesn't even own a pair of jeans. It is also a public statement of sorts. It is his way of maintaining his culture. When I went to visit him, I always wore traditional clothes, too, out of respect for him. I did it out of solidarity because I also value traditional Thai culture.

I rarely get an opportunity to wear my really traditional clothes and I miss it. It's beautiful and graceful. For now though, I'll be content with this everyday stuff.. my connection.. my statement.



Christine said...

I love these, Chani! Where do you order them?

I would so love to visit Thailand someday, to experience the rich and wonderful culture you describe so wonderfully here.

slouching mom said...

My jaw is hanging open! These are some fabulous clothes! I particularly like the first pair of pants and the light blue blouse on the left that suits girls like us who have girls, if ya know what I mean. ;)

I would never have pictured you as a blonde, out of a bottle or not!

Love the clothes. I'll bet they really suit you.

Stephen Newton said...

Easy to see why you like them. They're very cool. Chang (Aloft) speaks about American culture through a keen eye and writes with Asian precision. When I lived in Europe, I devoured American fiction and can finally to understand what Joyce meant when he wrote, "forge in the smithy of my soul, the uncreated conscience of my race." Chang gives me the chance to see it as if I was aboard observing it.

meno said...

I really like those skirts. They look so comfortable, and the colors are wonderful.

flutter said...

I see a pair of pants up there that need to be mine! You are such a fashionista...

KC said...

Gorgeous clothes. I had no idea they were so cute!

ellie bee said...

great clothes! you have to share a link!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oooh, pretty. I love the waistline of the pants, and also the panel skirts.

Please do share the link. You've made another convert.

crazymumma said...

um....what christine said. I love the pants especially! Really, where do you order them? Imagine...imagine if you start a fad?

As to the big b**b issue, why not bring the picture to a seamstress and have her make some for you custom?

Laurie said...

The clothes are beautiful. I would love to order some of those pants you are so fond of. They look so comfortable. I'm not a skirt/dress kind of gal, but I think I'd feel at home in that first skirt too.

Great post, Chani, thanks.


Julie Pippert said...

Oohhh those look so light, cool and comfy...just the clothes I need here almost year round, LOL.

I love the top pants, and the blue capri pants (gauchos).

Clothes shopping. Fun!

thailandchani said...

Christine, you can order these things from eBay. The pants are not expensive, either. I'd suggest Thai Craft Warehouse because you can order multiple colors and the more you order, the less they cost.


SM, exactly! It's hard enough for me to find clothes because of my .. um... size 18 status... but with "the girls", it becomes even more complicated. Even as I lose weight, the girls are holding their own. :)

I was a blond as a child. Now that I'm older, it's either blond out of the bottle or washed out gray. :)


Stephen, I will be sure to pick it up. I always like a new book.. but have sworn off the typical American novels for now. Given the quote though, it sounds like it's worth doing. :)


Meno, these clothes are really comfortable. They fit a bit differently than western clothing.. but it's not a bad difference.


Flutter, be sure to pick some up. You will like them. I promise. :)

And they're cheap!


KC, oh yes. They are very cute. :)I get compliments quite a bit. It surprised me.


Ellie and Susan, go to eBay and put "hmong" or "thai" in the search window for clothes and accessories. It will bring up a bunch of stuff!


CM, I can order special things from a seamstress in Bangkok who has my measurements. It's a bit expensive though so I use it sparingly. My traditional outfits are specially made.




thailandchani said...

Laurie, thanks. :) Check out the link... Perhaps you'll even decide to buy a pair of pants or capris :)


Julie, very cool and comfy. Very much! I am able to wear mine all year long. Some of the long skirts though... it's just too hot in the summer for them.




jen said...

i love, love, love these clothes. when i go to asia i pack very little and shop on the streets the first day. the thin silks, the outrageously lovely colors...all of it.

do you have those funky pants that are in one big piece but you have to tie the ends together to make it all work? i love those.

and i love your picks.

thailandchani said...

Jen, Wrap pants? Oh, yes! Dozens of them! :)

When I go back next time, I might not even bother to take very many clothes. They're so cheap at the street markets.



Snoskred said...

The Other Half brought me back some tops when he went to Thailand to build our washing machine (he won a competition) but none of them fit :( Though it says one size fits all, I think that means one size fits small people! ;)

He brought me some gorgeous sapphire earrings, too. :) I love them..

Snoskred - has a new home at -
please update your links. ;)

painted maypole said...

i, too, love these clothes! how fun. But, when you wear them, do you have to stand with your hip at that jaunty angle like in every picture? Because that can't be good for your posture. ;)

thailandchani said...

Snos, that is very true. They are mostly made for smaller women and my greatest problem with them is ... the girls. That's why I have to check all the measurements before I buy.


Maypole, If I even tried to stand with my hip at that jaunty angle, I'd never be able to walk again. :)

Fortunately, no. I can stand like my osteo-arthritic self.. and the clothes still work. LOL




mitzh said...

oooh... I love the pants and the blouses! Asian fashion is unique, eh?

Love, love them all! You're fashionista!

Pam said...

Oh, I love these cloths! The blue blouse looks like something I could manage and still feel like me.

caroline potato said...

Hi Thailand Gal,
This is a really fun post. You have selected really lovely pieces. I am a.....uhm...size 18 too. I also have uhm big ...girls. When I lived in France I had to buy Austrian clothes. Those women are bigger than French women. I really enjoy your take on life.

QT said...

Chani - I can just picture you! Those clothes look so comfortable, I wish I could wear them to work ~

Magpie said...

Wow - those are some great clothes!

Mary said...

Great clothes, Chani! I especially like the first skirt you show - I'd wear that! You must be very excited to stock up on your "traditional" style! You Go It!

bohemiangirl said...

oh me oh my. i covet all these beautiful clothes. yummy.