What do children wear in modern China

Traditional Chinese Clothing - What to Wear in China

Traditional Chinese Clothing - What to Wear in China

As in all countries, clothing also plays an important role in Chinese culture.

Chinese culture has existed for over 5000 years, and some traditional clothing items have been created during this time.

Traditional Chinese clothing is often based on the religion and social status of the person wearing it.

Traditional Chinese clothes usually have a straight, not too tight cut. This makes the garments comfortable to wear. Light colors are particularly popular, but red, yellow and purple-colored clothes are surprisingly often found. In China, white is the color of mourning and is therefore rarely worn in everyday life.

During the imperial era, the colors red, yellow and purple were reserved for the ruler, his family and high nobles. Today red clothes are especially popular because the color represents luck and prosperity. This is the reason why many Chinese wear red clothes, especially on the Chinese New Year.

Chinese women's clothing is often more detailed and decorated with more embroidery than clothing for men. Everyday clothing is mostly made of cotton or linen. Traditional silk clothing is worn on special occasions.

To date, there are four traditional Chinese garments that are still worn by many Chinese:

1. Traditional Chinese clothing - Hanfu 汉 服

2. Traditional Chinese clothing - Zhongshan suit 中山服

3. Traditional Chinese clothing - thangzhuang or tang suit 唐装

4. Traditional Chinese clothing - Cheongsam or Qipao 旗袍

1. Traditional Chinese clothing - Hanfu 汉 服

history:

The Chinese Hanfu is the oldest traditional garment. As the name suggests, this garment was developed during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD).

Today, many Chinese see themselves as still associated with the Han Dynasty. The largest population group in China is that of the Han Chinese. The legacy from that time is therefore considered to be very important.

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The literal translation of Hanfu is “Han Dynasty clothing” - 汉 (Han Dynasty) + 服 (clothing).

Key Features:

  • Crossed collar
  • Right collar turn-up
  • Sash instead of buttons
  • Colorful embroidery

Design:

The Hanfu is available in two versions: as a one-piece dress or as a combination of skirt and pants. The robe consists of three parts - underwear, an inner robe, and a cloak. In addition, socks, a shawl and a belt as well as jewelry made of jade are traditionally worn with it.

The embroidery on the dress depends on the social status of the person wearing the hanfu. The sun, moon and animals such as tigers, dragons or birds are popular motifs for Chinese embroidery. In addition, expensive materials of good quality are almost exclusively used for the production of the Hanfu. These include silk, brocade and wool.

2. Traditional Chinese clothing - Zhongshan suit 中山服

history:

The Zhongshan suit, also known as the Mao suit, dates back to the early days of the Republic of China around 1912.

Since this traditional Chinese garment was later often worn by the founder of the People's Republic Mao Zedong, the name “Mao suit” gradually became established.

The idea behind this garment was to combine western and traditional Chinese clothing styles.

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The Chinese name is中山服 (Zhōngshān fú). Zhōngshān is the Chinese name of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic. “Fú” means clothing or suit.

Key Features:

  • Rolled down, closed collar
  • Four pockets
  • Five buttons in the middle
  • Three smaller buttons on the respective sleeve

Design:

Although the suit looks quite plain, its features are all symbolic. The four pockets stand for loyalty, kindness, decency and shame. The five large buttons on the front of the top represent the five areas of the Chinese constitution: administration, jurisdiction, legislation, surveillance and control. The three small buttons on the sleeves of the Mao suit represent the three principles of the people. These are nationalism, democracy and the existence of the state. The folded collar is a sign of a conscientious style of rule.

Together, all of these symbols represent the unity of China.

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3. Traditional Chinese clothing - thangzhuang or tang suit 唐装

history:

And again, the Chinese name of a traditional Chinese garment was derived from a dynasty - the Chinese Tang Dynasty. This garment is called a suit, but it only consists of a top.

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The name “Tang suit” was given to this top by traders from western countries. The Tang Dynasty was the most famous Chinese dynasty in the West at the time. This traditional Chinese garment has therefore received the name of the Chinese imperial family.

This is because the Chinese were called the "Tang people" back then. Hence Tangzhuang (唐装) means something like “suit of the Chinese”.

Key Features:

  • Loose fit
  • Mandarin collar
  • Fabric buttons on the front

Design:

You will usually find some Chinese characters on a traditional Tang suit, for example those for luck (福) and longevity (寿). These signs are said to bring prosperity and satisfaction to the wearer of the suit.

This traditional Chinese garment had a great influence on traditional clothing in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

4. Traditional Chinese clothing - Cheongsam or Qipao 旗袍

background:

The cheongsam, also called Qipao, is a Chinese dress that was made during the Qing Dynasty (17th - 20th centuries). It is based on the Manchu women's clothing style.

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At the time when the cheongsam was first worn, the Han Chinese called the Manchu people the "Qi people". Manchu women then wore long dresses and the Chinese word for dress is “pao”. Qi pao put together means “dress of the Qi people”. The qipao is worn exclusively by women.

Key Features:

  • Figure-hugging cut
  • One piece dress
  • The right side is knotted with fabric buttons
  • Two wide openings on either side of the hips

Design:

The Qipao is a one-piece, figure-hugging dress that is worn by many Chinese women as well as tourists today. The dress combines traditional Chinese elements with a modern cut.

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Written by

Moritz Viering

Moritz has worked for LTL as a German freelancer since 2019. He enjoys exploring the world and diving into foreign cultures. Especially traditional Chinese characters, which have always fascinated him.