In this wide world of ours, cultural practices are as diverse as colors in the rainbow. Only the ignorant imperialists believe that they are equipped to judge unfamiliar foreign cultures. Still, we feel comfortable in saying: Chinese couples, do not wear matching outfits. There is no happy ending to this story.

America has been down this road before. We speak from hard-won wisdom. We have lived through the years in which mom and dad and Suzette and Timmy would drape themselves in matching puke-colored turtlenecks or garish holiday sweaters and pose with frozen smiles for family photos. It's a dark time in our national history. Nobody wants to go back to those days. So please, love-drunk young men and women of China, we beg you, listen to our voice: never, under any circumstances, leave the house in matching outfits.

That includes "special mittens, consisting of one mitten for him and one for her and a muff in the middle so the couple can stay warm without ever having to let go of each other's hands."

We bring this up because of today's horrifying report in the Wall Street Journal detailing the growing acceptance—embrace, even—of the practice, among Chinese people who are "going steady," of parading about town in matching t-shirts, or worse. This is presented rather coyly as a way that young Chinese people are signaling the rise of personal freedom in romantic relationships in the context of a modernizing society. In fact, it signals nothing more than a bad idea that has yet to fully shower them with its long tail of embarrassing consequences.

"We want everyone to envy us," said Mr. Wu, a 32-year-old forestry and conservation consultant, sitting next to his identically dressed spouse.

Oh. No.

[Photo: Flickr]