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Information on traditional Chinese Clothing

In the Chinese way of describing the necessities of life, clothing ranks at the top of "garments, food, shelter and means of travel".In this country with a long history of garments and ornaments, there is a wealth of archeological findings showing the development of garments, as well as their portrayals in ancient mythology, history books, poems and songs, novels and drama.

The distinction not only existed among dynasties, but also quite pronounced even in different periods within the same dynasty. The overall characteristics of the Chinese garments can be summarized as bright colors, refined artisanship, and ornate details.

Looking in retrospect at Chinese garments of the 20th century, we see an array of styles of Qipao, Cheongsam, the sun yat senˇ±s uniform, student uniform, western suits, hat, silk stockings, high heels, workers' uniform, Lenin jacket, bell-bottoms, miniskirts, bikinis, professional attire, punk style and T-shirt, all witnessing the days gone byˇ­

Qing Dynasty Imperial Suit Short Sex Phoenix Cheongsam Chinese Jacket

Chinese Clothing keeping Pace with the World Fashion

In 1978, China started to reform and adopted the open door policy. Since then, fashion and fashion culture have entered common Chinese people's life. As a part of western culture, a series of fashionable western garments, like the continuous wind, are changing the image of Chinese costumes gradually. Since the end of 1970s, besides asking tailors to make their clothes, people have started to purchase ready-made clothes. Clothes processing industry developed quickly along with the open door policy and reform. There are more and more clothes brands, design and colors in the market. People believe more and more in the quality and taste represented by the brand clothes. Taking examples of several types of popular clothes, it is not difficult to see how Chinese blend in the world fashion in dressing.

Bell pants are also called bell-bottomed pants. This kind of trousers has short crotch, thin and tight cut in hip and thigh part. From the knee part, the legs of trousers are widened and loosened, making the trousers look like bell shape. Originally it was a kind of sailor clothes. Loosening the trousers legs was to cover the rubber boots, which was to prevent seawater or deck cleaning water being poured into the boots. Bell-bottomed trousers originally were American decadent style clothes, popular from the end of 1960s to the end of 1970s. In 1978, it was about the end of bell-bottomed pants' popularity in Europe and America when China opened its door to outside world. Bell-bottomed trousers became popular among young people in China overnight and then were quickly spread to the whole country. Jackets go with them are tight elastic jackets, displaying an "A" shape.



Together with bell-bottomed pants, sunglasses also entered into China. As early as in 1930s, "dark glasses" were once very popular in big cities in China. Made of citrines or smoky quartz, the spectacle lens of dark glasses are small and in round shape. Dark glasses were once very popular among fashionable people. At the end of 1970s, sunglasses entered China again, but the popular styles were "toad style" and "panda style." The spectacle lenses are big and in the shape of toad or panda bear. One of the fashionable ways was to wear the sunglasses on top of the head or hang in front of the chest. Many young men, due to their worship for foreign things, even kept the brand stick paper on the glasses on purpose in order to show that their glasses were a foreign product. Since then, the styles of sunglasses have experienced constant changes. Chinese followed closely with the world glasses fashion.

Jeans also entered into China at the end of 1970s. And since then, more and more people have started to wear jeans, expanding from fashionable young men to people of all classes and ages. In 1990s, types of jeans developed including short skirts, short pants, waistcoats, jackets, hats, satchels, and backpacks. Colors were not limited to blue. New materials appeared such as water washing thin materials. At the beginning of 1980s, bat clothes were very popular. This type of clothes look like bat wings when stretching the two sleeves. With various types of collars, a bat pullover's sleeves and clothes body integrate into a whole. There are no sewing threads on the sleeves. The lower hem of the pullover is tight. Later more types were developed such as the bat coats, bat overcoats and bat jackets etc. It is quite interesting that this clothes style re-appeared in 2004 spring and summer fashion trend as a kind of retro.

Till the middle term of 1980s, there were more and more clothes styles while the popularity circle became shorter and shorter. New styles and materials were kept being introduced to the market. As for upper outer garments, there were all kinds of T-shirts, jackets of mixing color, checkered shirts and cotton pullovers. Wearing suits and ties became social dresses for formal occasions, and accepted by most of the white collars. Under clothes included pailform trousers, elastic trousers, radish trousers, skirt trousers, 70% trousers, trousers skirts, pleated skirts, eight-piece skirts, western suits skirts, midis and sun skirts. The style changed constantly. By the time when the mini skirt that was born in the western world in 1960s was once again popular in 1980s, China has kept pace with the world fashion.



At the beginning of 1990s, the previous dressing order was broken. The sweaters worn inside the jacket in the past entered all kinds of formal occasions as a single dress without going with outer jackets because of their rather loose style. The dressing style of "wearing underwear outside" was not considered as strange any more after two or three years. In the past, if wearing a jacket outside, the sweater or T-shirts inside should be shorter than the jacket. But young people suddenly found that it was hard to find bigger jackets than their loose sweaters, so they covered small jackets outside the long sweaters. The short-sleeve sweaters worn in summer time could also be worn outside the long-sleeve shirts. Very soon, clothes industry began to launch sets of unconventional suits, such as a long jacket and long shirt going with a little waistcoat higher than waist, or the successive style sleeves with outer sleeves shorter than the underclothes sleeves.

During that period of time, sun skirts going with high boots style black satin saddle shoes appeared in Paris garments stage. In the past, sun skirts with tight and small upper skirt part and two thin shoulder straps were worn in beach. But when it appeared in fashion stage, the skirt body had a bigger spread that reached the ankles. Almost at the same time, global fashion experienced first hand-covering clothes, which lengthened sleeves to cover the hands, then the waist-exposing clothes or even navel-exposing clothes, which have short and small upper clothes and a section of skin exposed. This kind of clothes was once popular in China, but the style was not as bold as the neighboring Japan. The navel-exposing clothes popular in Japan even led to a new content of body beautification-to beautify the navel. Clothes that expose part of skin inspired by waist-exposing or navel-exposing clothes however became popular in China. A subtle trend was to cover parts that were exposed before such as hands and shanks and expose parts that were covered before such as the waist and navel. The sandal shoes without back support was once the rage. Women wore the sandal shoes barefoot, painted nail polish, glued decorative plastic pieces or wore toe tings. Designers even designed the transparent handbag or watches that expose mechanism in order to show the open concept of modern people.

It was from 1990s that many oversea famous brand costumers one after another aimed at Chinese consumer market and opened the monopolization stores in big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Domestic Chinese brand clothes and fashion models gradually attracted people's interests. Along with the first fashion magazine that used foreign copyrights coming into being in China in 1988, more and more newspaper, magazines, radio stations, television stations and networks entered the fashion promotion field. World latest fashion information could be introduced to China very quickly. The trend of garments in fashion, hairstyles and make-up styles from France, Italy, U.K and South Korea directly influence the trend in China. Life styles and dressing styles represented by "fashion" are accepted and went after by more and more Chinese.

In those years at the turn of century, fashion in China kept close pace with the world fashion. Following the international dressing fashion, dressing style tended to be more formal, especially white-collar women who paid particular attention to the charm of being a professional woman. They tried to wear formal and decent dresses. People no longer favored the so-called "original wildness," such as no edging for the straw hats or tearing thread off the trousers. The trend of exposing certain part of skin was restrained among people of some classes and in some occasions. Though mini skirts were still popular, many young girls started to favor ankle-long long skirts to show the female elegance.

Of course, some adolescent young boys and girls who advocated the anti-tradition consciousness of the western society considered the weird as fashionable on purpose, for example, imitating the hairstyle of The Last of the Mohicans to shave head on two sides and leave the middle section and dye hair. Some wore "punk dress" - another kind of decadent style youth dress in western society after hippies. They glued the hair into animal horn shape using hair gel and embroidered skeleton pattern on black leather jackets; or intentionally tore or burned holes on the clothes. These were not dominant in China fashion scene. But a very interesting fact was that "opening a window" in an artistic way on clothes became popular at the turn of spring and summer in 1998. Holes could be dug in every part of the clothes and the edge of holes was dealt with carefully. As this style of clothes was different from the "transparent dress" made by translucent materials, it was called the "perspective dress." And then a kind of dress full of mesh appeared, which was synchronous with the "fishnet" dress in the Paris fashion stage.

In those several years, a "swimming suit trend" emerged in streets and lanes in China. Of course, the swimming suit here didn't mean the swimming suit for the water sport sold in the shop, but a kind of daily dress. It got this name because the suit was as short, small and sexy as the swimming suit. Imagine that a girl wears a tight upper dress that exposes the navel and with thin shoulder straps, a mini short skirt or short pants and a pair of slippers, one will easily think she is beside the beach or swimming pool but not in the streets of the city if not for the backpack she carries.

At the beginning of 21st century, adult women including young ladies and university students fell over themselves for child style clothes and hairstyles as if they wanted to relive their childhood. They cut a kind of kid hairstyle, which was to curl the tip of hair on both temples, and put on pink or lemon yellow butterfly or flower hairpins. The upper clothes sometime were tight and small and sometimes loose and cute, which made them look like naughty kids. They wore kids style shoes with square openings and slanting shoelaces and carried satchels with patterns of bear head. Some students, like kids who refused to grow up, even hung rubber nipples or mobile phones in front of the chest.

In 2001, the small Chinese belly-cover was once very popular. In the awarding ceremony of Cannes Film Festival, the movie star Zhang Ziyi attracted the attention of the fashion circle when she wore a specially made red belly cover, and draped a long piece of red silk around shoulder, which made her look like an ancient Chinese doll. Later, wearing a diamond shape belly-cover without any additional adornments, she appeared in the MTV awarding ceremony. So very soon, in all kinds of occasions and media formats, no matter stars or ordinary fashionable girls all began to wear all kinds of belly covers.

At the beginning of the 21st century, there was also a big change on the shoe vamp. In 2002, those cute "sponge cake" shoes were no longer popular while shoes with sharp turning up tips (like Charlie Chaplin style shoes) and decorated with shining adornments appeared. One year after, round tip style shoes that imitated the toe shoes were the rage in the market.

At the end of 20th century, international fashion world began to favor oriental style. Oriental elegance, tranquility, simplicity and mystery became the global fashion elements. With the rising of China's position in the world, overseas Chinese started to feel proud to wear Chinese costumes, women in Mainland China naturally put on Chinese jackets and many Chinese men consider Chinese cotton jackets as fashionable. Chinese dresses of nowadays are not like those classical traditional Chinese coats or jackets. Many female Chinese costumes adopted the fashionable elements. The costume arrangement looks rather interesting when girls put on print or flamboyant cotton cloth coats with edgings and stand collar, jeans and leather shoes in the latest fashion.

At the beginning of 2001, Hong Kong movie In the Mood for Love was played in many countries domestic and abroad. The actress in the movie changed cheong-sams of different colors and styles (more than 20) under the dark lights. Audiences were amazed by the classical charm of the oriental beauty. The actress looked beautiful, elegant and sentimental with cheong-sams. People for the first time found that Chinese traditional dresses had a kind of special charm. Due to the magic of the movie, the cheong-sam once again was the rage.

Nobody would expect that APEC conference held in China - a very influential political activity, created another round of Chinese dress fashion. In autumn 2001 in Shanghai, the whole world was stirred when leaders from all countries who put on Chinese blue, red or green satin jackets appeared in the public. International media published the photos of the leaders wearing Chinese dresses and wrote articles with comments. The charm of Chinese "button in the middle" style jacket coupling with the huge effect created by Bush and Putin made a very successful advertisement for the Chinese costume. Some customers asked the shop assistant to give them a "Putin" style Chinese jacket. Another background behind this trend is the more and more important influence that China has on the world stage. The Chinese dress rage also signifies the constantly increased confidence and cohesion of the Chinese nation.

What happened in the 20th century has proved that this century is till now the most fashionable century with high amount of clothes, accessories and cosmetics being sold. The development of the increasingly powerful media makes more and more people to come close, to appreciate clothes and to enjoy the beauty of the fashionable garments. Fashionable garments have become a kind of life style that people understand and love to invest.


Chinese Tunic Suit Cheongsam Dragon Robe
Chinese Tunic
Cheongsam Dragon Robe
Tibetan Robe Miao-Style Silver Jewellery Patches of Embroidery on Official Robes
Tibetan Robe Miao-Style
Silver Jewellery
Patches of Embroidery
on Official Robes