There are many Chinatowns in a variety of cities, with notable ones including New York City and San Francisco. Chinatown in New York has over 100,000 people, making it the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere.
Chinatown is a densely populated neighborhood, that emerged in New York in the 1800s with immigration from China to the United States. Chinatown is a culturally rich area, with authentic shops, food, and generations of Chinese families.
Whether you are going to Chinatown with a purpose in mind, or just to explore and absorb the culture, knowing what to wear is not always obvious. Chinatown is a mix of street vendors and buildings, making practical, comfortable clothes key, as well as being ready for any type of weather.
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There is no official dress code in Chinatown. Most locals and visitors wear casual streetwear for shopping, dining, and exploring.
Leggings and a Cardigan
Leggings paired with a cardigan are a comfy, casual look you can wear any season. There are a variety of different styles, shades, and patterns for both, so you are sure to find a pairing that fits your style.
Leggings are great for walking and a cardigan will keep you warm without overheating you like a traditional sweater. You will be chic, cute, and ready to explore.
Skirt and a T-Shirt
A skirt is a comfortable, feminine alternative to pants and has just as many different choices. Try a midi or maxi skirt with a t-shirt for a casual, yet hip look you can wear around Chinatown.
Blazer or Sports Coat
A blazer or sports coat is a more sophisticated alternative for men and women compared to a sweater or cardigan while not looking out of place with a more casual look.
A nice sweater is an easy way to stay warm and still mobile if the weather is colder. It can easily be layered over a t-shirt and under a jacket for a versatile layer.
Plaid With a T-shirt
A plaid sweater over a t-shirt is a classic look that can be worn anytime and by anyone and still look good. It is a practical and casual look perfect for going for a walk and exploring the town.
A waterproof coat will help protect you from the rain and wind without having to carry around an umbrella, making it a great choice when visiting Chinatown.
Inspired Looks from the Locals
In 2014, seniors in Chinatown and their outfits were documented in a piece called Chinatown Pretty. Locals can be seen wearing a combination of clothes from vintage pieces to modern looks and everything in between.
If you are in doubt about what to wear, find inspiration from what the locals are wearing.
Jeans work for most places, including Chinatown. Choose a well-fitted pair that doesn’t have holes or stains to look presentable without having to resort to dress pants.
Black Pleather Jacket
If you want to look bold and make a statement, a black pleather jacket will do just that. It can be paired with anything from jeans to dresses while still looking intense.
Matching Track Suit
A matching tracksuit creates a cohesive look while also allowing you to be mobile and comfortable. Pair it with a pair of bright sneakers for a practical yet stylish look.
A stylish hat, whether it be a ball cap or fedora is a great way to accessorize your outfit while also protecting your eyes from the sun.
A jumpsuit is an all-in-one outfit that can be worn as is or accessorized with different sweaters, jewelry, and bags. Have fun playing it up with different options from your closet.
A great way to carry your belongings like your wallet and keys is a cross-body bag. There are so many cute options to choose from, plus wearing it across your body provides extra security from it being stolen.
A shirt dress is a breathable, light option great for walking around Chinatown. Wear it over leggings and a long sleeve for the colder months or as it is for the warmer months.
If you want to look more professional, smart casual will help you look elevated, without making you stick out in the crowd. Try a pair of khakis and a polo or collared shirt for a business-ready look that isn’t a suit.
Do take your time if you can, find a place to sit and watch the street and the people. You may be surprised at how much you observe and can learn about fashion and Chinese culture just by people-watching.
Don’t be afraid to try new things while visiting Chinatown. This includes trying new food, music, and culture, even if you feel out of your comfort zone. You may find something new you love that you never knew about before.
Make sure to dress for the weather and the possibility of changing weather when visiting Chinatown. This means bringing layers, a coat, and even an umbrella in case it rains.
Also, make sure to wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in without hurting your feet. Chinatown includes a lot of walking, including getting to and from so the last thing you want is aching feet on your journey.
What Not To Wear
Be mindful of wearing Chinese symbols or styles to Chinatown or in general. These symbols and styles are deeply rooted in Chinese origin and have great significance. Avoid wearing Chinese symbols or traditional clothing like a Hanfu Dress, so as not to show disrespect to the culture.
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