Dress code for women
Written by Rachel

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Equal but different

In class, women have to follow more or less the same dress code guidelines as men. However, I have sneaked in a couple of differences... Tights and a boob shield (martial students only).

Monday night uniform for women (taijiquan)

• White cotton crew-neck T-shirt
• Black cotton martial arts trousers
• School badge sewn onto the T-shirt
• Flat footwear; preferably not training/sports shoes
• Thin tights

• Boob shield (optional)
• No jewellery

Workshop/boot camp uniform for women (taijiquan)

• Cotton crew-neck T-shirt
• Black cotton martial arts trousers
• Thin tights
• Boob shield (optional)
• No jewellery

Please note that 'leggings', yoga attire and T-shirts with pockets are not appropriate attire for workshops.

If you were studying classical ballet, you'd be required to wear tights. There'd be no discussion. Think of tai chi as being along the same lines. They are an Asian aesthetic.

Asian aesthetics

If you're wondering why women studying an Asian martial art are being asked to adopt Asian aesthetic standards, surely the question answers itself?
Would somebody in a football team expect to play football wearing long trousers? No. They'd adhere to the aesthetics associated with the game; which would be short trousers...

When it comes to the dress code, you might want to bear in mind that Rachel has designed the uniform with the purpose of encouraging specific Asian attributes in women.
Rachel has studied clothing, style, hair, lingerie, hosiery, martial arts and Asian culture extensively. She likes to read about the history of clothing and the reasons behind specific fashions and styles.

5 excellences

Tai chi is considered to be highly refined; alongside painting, classical literature, calligraphy & medicine.

Dress like a girl and you will fight like a girl

The absolute worst thing that a woman can do in combat is to emulate how a man operates. Our muscle mass/fat distribution is different, and we're not prey to testosterone and aggression.
You need to feel and function as a woman - hence tights - a physical reminder that you're not a man?

Why wear tights?

Asian women adopted the practice of wearing thin tights/stockings centuries ago. How come? Modesty, leg health, protection, improved circulation and aesthetics.
Tights to serve to accentuate your femaleness...


In Asia the saying is "Only a monkey shows it's feet". This means that a 'lady' does not reveal her bare legs and feet. You will see this with most Asian women you encounter, even girls in shorts.
They usually wear hosiery; even in warm climates.


I remember when Rachel explained that a woman’s strength is in her legs, it made complete sense but I’d actually never even thought of this before, this is where the muscle mass is, so anything that makes you conscious of your legs can only be good, and like you said, hosiery gives you great feedback on that muscle mass.


Boob shield

Female taijiquan students are encouraged to purchase a 'boob shield' when they start the taijiquan syllabus. Students can be clumsy. They will think twice about punching your shield.

Are you sexist?

A lot of women nowadays are quite sexist about dress codes...
Picture this: a man in a suit wearing smart shoes? If he wears thin socks in navy, grey or black they will probably look smart. Thick hiking socks would look stupid. Red socks... Oh dear. White socks? No.
Bare feet? Uh, no. If a man had bare feet with smart shoes and suit trousers, he'd probably be sent out to buy some socks.

Double standards

Now consider a woman at work. She is wearing a smart skirt and dress shoes. Is she wearing hosiery? Often not. So, consider the male example. What is the difference? Why is there a double standard?
Thick tights can look as bad as no tights and jazzy/patterned tights often look inappropriate for work.

Asian equality

In Asia, men and women adhere to the same dress code standards; which is why Asian women are widely known to be the best dressed female professionals on the planet.
If a man is required to wear thin navy, grey or black socks, then a female worker must also follow an equivalent code. Usually it is low denier hosiery; either natural, light tan or black.
The denier is never above 15. The hosiery is never patterned.

A lady of tai chi

I seek to encourage tai chi ladies to follow the dress code outlined above and look as smart as the male students. Please make an effort.

Personal expression?

If you're looking for personal expression, you might want to consider a yoga group rather than a martial arts class. Traditional martial arts aren't a forum for vanity and showing-off
Martial arts are about quashing the ego. We focus upon the attacker, not upon our own 'image' or appearance. Egotism just gets in the way...

Further reading

• Dress code
• Dress code & ego
• Female feet
• Hosiery
• Female martial artist
Girl's Night
• Women in martial arts
• Women's self defence


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Page created 26 November 2007
Last updated 14 March 2020