Qipao Elegance: China's 20th Century Fashion Icon

A Brief History of the Qipao

If you've ever watched an old Chinese movie or set foot in a Chinese restaurant, you've probably laid eyes on the enchanting qipao. Also known as the cheongsam, it's a traditional Chinese dress that first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s. Originally a loose-fitting gown worn by the women of the Manchu ethnic group, it evolved into a fitted, one-piece dress that accentuates the female form.

The qipao is an unmistakable symbol of Chinese culture - its name literally means "banner gown," a nod to the Manchu banners under which it was first worn. Today, it is worn at formal occasions, cultural events, and weddings, embodying the perfect blend of tradition and modernity.

Qipaos and Hollywood Glamour

No fashion icon is complete without making a splash in Hollywood, and the qipao is no exception. In the 1930s and 1940s, Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong dazzled audiences with her qipao-clad performances. Wong's striking beauty and on-screen presence helped catapult the qipao into the international fashion scene.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the qipao is still gracing the red carpet. In 2015, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing wore a dazzling qipao-inspired gown at the Cannes Film Festival, proving that this traditional dress has serious staying power.

The Art of Choosing the Perfect Qipao

If you're thinking about donning a qipao for your next big event, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
  • Fabric: The choice of fabric can make or break a qipao. Silk is the most traditional choice and is perfect for formal occasions. For a more casual look, consider a cotton or linen qipao.
  • Pattern: Qipaos often feature intricate patterns and embroidery, including florals, birds, dragons, and phoenixes. Choose a pattern that speaks to your personal style and complements your figure.
  • Collar: The classic qipao collar is a high, stand-up collar that symbolizes elegance and modesty. However, modern qipaos also come in a variety of collar styles, such as V-necks and boat necks, to suit different tastes.
  • Fit: A well-fitted qipao should hug your curves without being too tight. A tailor can help you achieve the perfect fit, ensuring that you look and feel your best in your qipao.

Accessorizing Your Qipao

Accessories can help elevate your qipao look from good to great. Here are some classic qipao accessories to consider:
  • Shoes: Traditional qipao shoes are embroidered silk slippers with a low heel. For a modern twist, opt for elegant heels or flats that complement your dress.
  • Jewelry: Keep jewelry simple and elegant. A pair of delicate earrings or a jade pendant can add just the right touch of sparkle to your ensemble.
  • Handbag: A small, beaded handbag or clutch is the perfect accompaniment to your qipao. Choose a color that complements your dress, and keep the bag's design simple so as not to detract from your stunning gown.

Qipao Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts

As with any cultural garment, there are certain etiquette rules to follow when wearing a qipao:
  • Do: Wear a qipao to a Chinese-themed event, wedding, or cultural celebration. It's a great way to honor your heritage or show appreciation for Chinese culture.
  • Don't: Wear a qipao as a Halloween costume or to a casual event. This can be seen as disrespectful or culturally insensitive.
  • Do: Take the time to find a well-fitted, high-quality qipao. A cheap or ill-fitting qipao can look tacky and detract from the garment's elegance.
  • Don't: Alter a qipao too drastically, such as cutting it into a mini dress. This can be seen as disrespectful to the garment's traditional design.

Conclusion: Embracing Qipao Elegance

With its rich history, captivating design, and cultural significance, it's no wonder that the qipao remains a treasured fashion icon. If you're looking to make a statement at your next event, why not embrace the qipao's timeless elegance? After all, in the words of fashion icon Coco Chanel, "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."

Article kindly provided by foreverinfashion.org