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【40 Years of Reform and Opening-up】Huge Changes in Clothing Witnessed a Greatly Improved Life Quality

Time:2018-12-06 15:30:00 Source: China Youth China Youth International

  40 years of reform and opening up have greatly improved people’s life, increasing their sense of contentment and happiness. This is particularly reflected in fundamental changes in food, clothing, housing and transportation.

  In the past, due to the poverty and material hardships, cloth coupons which were rationed for each person were needed when buying cloth. However, one could not make a suit of clothes with the rationed coupons. That is to say, one could only make an outerwear but no underwear, or a jacket but no pants. Facing this, people had no choice but to make full use of old clothes. Therefore, new clothes were first given to the oldest child and then worn by the younger children. If clothes were worn out, it could be worn for another three more years after mending. Patched clothes were seen everywhere.

  Although I was the oldest child in my family, I had no new clothes to wear because of lack of money and coupons. I remember when I was a child I had to wear my father’s old clothes. As for my father’s short jackets, I could take it as a coat as it was overlong. But for those overlarge clothes, there was no way to fit. When I wore his fat pants, I was like in a dress, with cold wind dashing into from the pant legs in winter. Coats and pants were already worn out when they were given to me, with patches in different colors here and there. However, people would not look at you with strange eyes, because wearing patched clothes was common at that time. We often said clothes that could cover one’s body and keep one warm were enough.

  I did receive a new shirt made of dacron when I went to Linchi Farm in Ningdu County, Jiangxi Province, to participate in labor after I finished my high school at the end of 1974. It was a hard decision for my parents to make this shirt considering my family condition, but they finally made one for its wear-proof, easy-washing and quick-drying quality. It was worth of showing off at that time if you had clothes made of dacron. Each time after work, I would be surrounded by the envy. Later, I was distressed for a long time for it was burn a hole by a careless smoker.

  Clothes at that time were not only worn-out but also in few styles. We only had school uniforms, and grey or blue Chinese tunic suits. Jackets were seldom seen, let alone tailored suit. Waists and legs of pants were of equal size just like gunny bags, fastened with a band not a belt. Chinese tunic suits were in fashion. One with four pockets was the most popular and that with two pockets was also good. I remember there was a young man in my farm who had a Chinese tunic suit with two pockets. When a photographer came to the farm, everyone would wear his tunic suit to their content. Later, when this young man joined the army, he left this suit to me. Though it was faded and the sleeves were worn out, I was still moved and satisfied.

  After 1978, with market opening-up, more kinds of cloth showed up, such as chemical fiber, nylon, dacron and so on. At the same time, types of clothes began to be diversified, with jackets, suits, bell-bottom trousers in vogue. Later, as cloth coupons were canceled, cloth and styles of clothes became more and more various. Sportswear, casual wear, cardigans, and down jackets in pure cotton, half-cotton, cotton-like and other materials came into people’s life. With these changes, patched clothes disappeared gradually.

  Clothes at present in various colors are in stark contrast to those mainly in grey, blue, black and green in the past. People wearing fashionable clothes in different styles and colors forms a beautiful scenery in the street. What we pursue now is both good-looking and good quality. People have a new look in new clothing styles, full of vigor and vitality.

  Although clothing is external manifestation of a person, it is the best illustration of the improvement in living standards. Because only people live an improved material life with more money in hands can they have more choices in clothing. In the past 40 years, people's living standards have been continuously upgraded, and their income has increased substantially. Take my hometown Ganzhou, an old revolutionary area in Jiangxi Province, as an example. Since the reform and opening up, according to the data, the per capita disposable income of urban residents was increased from 356 yuan in 1980 to 29,567 yuan in 2017; the per capita disposable income of farmers was increased from 111 yuan in 1978 to 9,717 yuan in 2017. With the large increase in income, the quality of life has improved greatly. Most of people can eat well, dress well, and live well.

  Just as an old saying goes that “fine feathers make fine birds”, clothes are the external decoration. From the tremendous changes in people's clothing, we can see the prosperity of our country, the fruits of reform and opening up, and a better life quality enjoyed by people. Beautiful clothes show a new look of the times.

Editor:Hou Qianqian
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