John Key dons APEC 'silly' shirt: Stylish or awkward?

Prime Minister John Key and other world leaders have donned silken Chinese garb for the traditional 'silly' shirt photo at the APEC summit in Beijing.

For much of APEC's history, leaders have been fitted with shirts loosely modelled on the host country's national costume for the group portrait that closes the meeting.

This year's crop of leaders were dressed in teal, blue and maroon silk outfits: a downbeat move after the parade of Balinese colour put on by last year's host Indonesia.

Mr Key and his wife Bronagh were snapped posing alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping and Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan in the traditional shirts.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were also snapped together in matching maroon.

Former US President Bill Clinton started the 'silly shirt' tradition in 1993, when he handed out bomber jackets to world leaders.

The often-garish shirts faded out after the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008, but have made a comeback in recent years.