APEC fashion hits and misses
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
U.S. President Barack Obama poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan as they arrive for the APEC summit banquet November 10, 2014. Each year, APEC leaders dress up in the the host country's traditional garb for a "family photo" -- it's also been called the "silly shirts photo."
Gallery: APEC fashion hits and misses
Gallery: APEC fashion hits and misses
Indonesia, 1994: Batik statement
Canada, 1997: Cool crew
New Zealand, 1999: Cold shoulders
China, 2001: Chinese style
Mexico, 2002: Fiestawear
Thailand, 2003: Spun gold
APEC 2004, Santiago, Chile
South Korea, 2005: High drama
Vietnam, 2006: Robe ready
Australia, 2007: Dryzabone does it
Peru, 2008: Classic browns
- Gallery looks back at some of the more memorable APEC triumphs and fashion fails
- The first APEC "family photo" dates to first APEC summit near Seattle in 1993
- Like group tour t-shirts, they run the risk of never being worn again
- Tradition brought back to life in Bali after a three-year hiatus
(CNN) -- Being a world leader doesn't necessarily mean being a fashion leader.
It also doesn't make you immune to that awkward part of the international travel deal -- occasionally giving in to the demands of your local hosts and doing something you wouldn't normally do, all in the name of cross-cultural comity.
Taken each year (with some exemptions) in the traditional or often jazzed-up garb of the host country, the famed Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) "family photo" (it's also been called the "silly shirts" photo) dates to the first APEC summit held near Seattle in 1993.
To foster a sense of informal exchange, participants at that summit were asked not to wear ties.
What happened at the APEC Summit
Singapore PM: Govt. expected to perform
General Electric talks long-term growth
At the same meeting, then U.S. President Bill Clinton presented bomber jackets to participants. (Very cool move.)
Since then it's been all on -- and all in -- with everything from South American ponchos to Vietnamese ao dai.
Like group tour t-shirts and other travel-inspired clothing purchases, these may look OK at the time and generate a sense of unity. But they later run the risk of mixing with mothballs at the back of the closet and only seeing the light of day, or night, during a bout of nostalgia or for a themed party.
Perhaps inspired by Japan in 2010 deciding to buck short tradition, the APEC group dress code has been shelved in recent years.
But at last year's APEC summit, on the sun-kissed Indonesian island of Bali, it was back on - leaders looked reasonably resplendent in Balinese-designed shirts.
On Monday, this year's host China continued the custom.
Leaders donned high-collared, "Mao-style" jackets in shades of burgundy, teal and brown to attend a gala dinner at in Beijing.
But as the photos spread around the world, many thought they were attending a Star Trek convention rather than a state banquet, with the outfits resembling those sported by Spock or Captain Kirk.
Host Chinese President Xi Jinping worked his silky tunic but the awkward expressions of U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin suggested many guests wished they could be transported away from the pomp and protocol by using the hit show's immortal catchphrase: "Beam me up, Scotty."
This story was first published on October 8, 2013 and updated on November 11, 2014.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 0256 GMT (1056 HKT)
Journals, luggage tags, Panama hats? Yawn. We've got a selection of gifts travelers will actually use.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Global events, new attractions and anniversary celebrations will put these destinations on travel radars next year. Question is, which one(s) to visit?
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Of all Christmas traditions out there, one has an All-American pedigree: electric Christmas tree lights.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Looking for snow porn? This helicopter ski adventure will fly you into the Coast Mountains for the freshest runs.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
From Singapore to Norway, there are plenty of reasons to plan your next trip around a fabulous hotel opening its doors next year.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Step aside Mount Everest, this mountain country is home to cool cafes, crazy drinks and ancient Buddhist tradition.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.