Twelve years ago in Beijing you could still see the occasional older woman with bound feet. Some middle aged to older people still wore the old Communist style jackets and pants with cloth slippers. Younger, upwardly mobile people dressed in Western styles, but not really up to date, or they dressed conservatively and in a very lady-like way in slightly modernized qipao and heeled pumps.
Today in Beijing, it's a very different story. On Wanfujing you can buy Gucci and Versace and Vuitton, of course. If you can afford it. But lots of ordinary people are also having fun with fashion.
Skinnies, worn with tunics and cropped jackets quite often
LOTS of mid-calf boots; these are favoured by Beijingers over booties or boots or ballet flats or heels
Lots of wedge heeled pumps with decoration (e.g. sparkly buckles or bright colour)
Lots of wedge sneakers
Plaid pants on guys (not so much on women)
Fur and leather - TONS of it
A few photos:
Pics 1/2: Store windows in a working class neighbourhood bordering a fancier district. This is a chain store, not a special boutique. Clothes were not super expensive or high quality but were not terrible quality, either. They were getting into the autumn colours.
Pic 3/4: I got a kick out of this young woman fooling around in the Forbidden City. Her jeans almost have a jodphur look to them, though it is hard to see in the photo.
Pic 5: Some young men walking around the Hukou Lake area. I liked the plaid pants.
Pic 6: This young woman walked an incredibly long, steep staircase to get to the famous Drum Tower in her pink monster wedges. Look at her pattern mixing and bookending! She is a PRO! She gave me permission to take her photo.
Pics 7/8: We spent a terrific day walking in the 798 Art district where we saw two weddings.
Pic 9: Where we had lunch that day. SO good!
Of course, not everybody is dressing this way; you still see lots of people without the means or the interest to play with their manner of dress. But a huge number are experimenting, especially in the younger generation. And from the little I have seen I would say that the city is truly developing its own distinctive look.
I am now in Shanghai where the look is very different. Hope to post pictures of that very soon!