WITH her denim dress straining to cover a generous 37DD bust, revealing her lacy lingerie, and her face slashed with red lipstick, she could have matched the description of an ''overweight, underdressed, grungy, aggressive gweipoh''.

But pandemonium broke out when Guess? model Anna Nicole Smith pressed the flesh with the adoring Hong Kong public who marvelled at her million-dollar assets as if she were a fertility goddess.

Out of the spotlight and her Guess? gear, and doing the rounds in the same shopping complex, Smith may have encountered those disdaining looks from shop assistants that are flashed at gweipohs brave enough to cross the threshold.

The sort of smugness that says ''that bust will get you nowhere in here - even if it is one size fits all - and, come to think of it, you bear an incredible likeness to Godzilla's mother''.

Yes, that same lack of compassion for the voluptuous figure demonstrated by ''Gweipoh Groan'' who sent a missive to the Sunday Morning Post suggesting a ''visual pollution tax'' be slapped on gweipohs.

''It's the visual pollution and specifically that of the contrast of lithe, well-dressed demure Oriental ladies as against the overweight, underdressed, grungy, aggressive gweipohs.

''These examples of Britain, Australia and North America are an eyesore and an affront to the people of Hong Kong,'' the ''Groan'' waxed on, sending the fax machine into overdrive.

''I invite you, sir, to give us your name. Otherwise, I shall always consider you to be a racist, sexist, insulting, naive and pathetic individual,'' deplored Bill Abbott, of Braemar Hill.

''What sort of responsible publication would provide a free platform for such racist, offensive remarks,'' wrote Cindy Anderson, of Wan Chai.

''His/her sweeping generalisation is not only wholly inaccurate but also deeply offensive to both parties,'' said Angela Howe and Wendy Easterlow, of The Peak.

''I feel that his suggested 'pollution tax' should be extended to overweight, drunk, aggressive gweilos in Lan Kwai Fong who are under the illusion that lithe, well-dressed, demure Oriental ladies find them funny, interesting and attractive,'' faxed AnneLim, of Central.

But, bruised egos aside, does ''Gweipoh Groan'' (who was, unfortunately, not able to be contacted for further comment) have a point? Do local women dress better than expatriate women in Hong Kong? We put the question to two well-known women in the fashion industry, Kiki Fleming - a gweipoh - and Caroline Nie, who is Chinese, and asked them to dress their ''opposite'' in outfits they believed to be ''right'' and demonstrate where Western and Chinese women go wrong.

Ms Fleming, who runs a production company which stages and choreographs fashion shows for major design houses with partner Marianne Cartier, said there was a difference in the styles generally sported by Asian and Western women.

''I don't condone the letter, it's bitchy and not to be taken seriously, but if you analyse it he is probably right,'' Ms Fleming said.

''Oriental women can wear a mish-mash of nonsense and somehow get away with a lot more.

''They are more demure so they can put all sorts of things and colours together and it looks OK because their brown skin and body frame hide a multitude of sins. Europeans have to be much more careful.

''The choice for expatriates in Hong Kong is extremely limited, the taste is very 'oriental' and very 'fancy' which is not to the European taste.

''Put some of that together on a European and it would be a disaster.

''Sizing is also a problem and things are so expensive here. You're not going to go out and buy a jacket that will be instantly recognisable, you would invest in something that lasts.'' Ms Fleming said money was a key factor.

''Expatriate women have varied expenses living abroad and without family support, while a young Chinese girl, probably living with her family and giving part of her salary to them, may spend the rest on herself.

''Expatriates put more money into their homes, whereas an Oriental lady will spend a month's salary on a handbag.

''The priorities are different and I think that's why the initial comparison is made. But it's not for us to say who is right or wrong, it is a different way of thinking.'' Ms Nie, an image director who styles for commercials, agreed.

''Westerners dress simply and elegantly, and they tend to accessorise, whereas the local Chinese are more up-to-date, they go for more detailed clothing.

''I believe some Chinese are overdressed. They are more flamboyant, matching their shoes with their handbags - it's part of the tai-tai style.

''When Hong Kong people buy fashion they want to get their money's worth. They won't just buy a plain white shirt, they will buy one with ruffles or frills.

''But a Western woman may buy a plain white shirt because she can wear it with 10 items in her wardrobe. The Chinese have outfits, Westerners mix and match.'' Ms Nie chose to dress English model Nicky in simple but stylish clothes from Anne Klein II and Jessica, saying both labels were affordable and have ''generous'' Western sizes.

Ms Fleming's partner, Ms Cartier, went to Le Pommier, a small boutique in Central which can tailor-make outfits on display in the size or pattern desired.

''The way we have dressed Ivy is the way I would dress in Europe,'' Ms Cartier said.

''I would wear these styles for business and for cocktails - not in the same colours - but certainly the same type of outfits. I certainly wouldn't dress an Asian woman in the outfits Caroline chose because the colours are not exactly right, but they do suit Western women. Asian women are very lucky. They have a natural elegance, so an outfit has to complement that.''