Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (2022)

As a vital part of Chinese civilization, traditionalclothing plays an important role in the country's history and culture. Their basic features are cross-collar, wrapping the right lapel over the left, tying with sash and a form of blouse plus skirt or long gown. These features have been preserved for thousands of years till the time of the Republic of China (1912 – 1949AD), when Chinese Tunic Suit (Mao Suit) and cheongsam prevailed. Nowadays, however, most Chinese wear modern clothes in their daily lives, not much difference from their western counterparts. Traditional attires are only worn during certain festivals, ceremonies or religious occasions. However, they are often seen in Chinese television serials and movies. Many of the country’s ethnic minorities also wear their traditional costumes in their daily lives and they played an important role in the traditional Chinese clothing.

(Video) Tradition goes modern: A brief history of Hanfu's styles

History

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (1)
Traditional Chinese Suit

Based on historical discoveries, Chinese clothes dates back to the later era of Paleolithic Times (1.7 million years ago - the 21st century BC). Materials used were of animal skins and decorations were of small stones and animal teeth. The “real” clothes were not invented until about 5,000 years ago by the Yellow Emperor. By the Shang Dynasty (17th century BC - 1046 BC), the basic features of traditional Chinese attire were created, as well as the general pattern of blouse plus skirt. Later, the long gown appeared during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 256 BC) and it co-existed with the blouse-skirt combinations for thousands of years, improving further as time passed. Then a great change occurred with the formation of the Republic of China, when Mao Suit became popular among the males and cheongsam among the females. In the early period of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Suit stayed popular among not only males, but also females. Later in the 1970’s, when the country implemented reform and opening policy, the masses gradually turned to western-style attire.

In addition to the basic features and patterns, traditional Chinese attires have many other features like appearance, cutting, decoration, color and design, etc, all of which changed over the various dynasties. For example, black is the most dignified color in the Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC), white in the Shang Dynasty and red in the Zhou Dynasty. They also vary based on one’s political position, social status, occupation and gender, etc. For instance, dragon embroideries and bright yellow can only be used by emperors most of the time; in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD), purple official costumes are for the fifth or higher rank officials; in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD), the higher a person’s social rank or the richer one was, the more embroideries and borders there were on his attires.

(Video) The Feminist Origin of the Qipao/Cheongsam

Well-known Fashion

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (2)
Cheongsam

Although the fashion trend changes over time, there are several types that are popular till today both at home and abroad.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (3)Traditional Han Chinese Clothing (Han Fu): It refers to the attire worn by the Han people from the enthronement of the Yellow Emperor (about 2698 BC) till the late Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). It became known as the Han Fu (“fu” means “clothes” in Chinese) because the fashion was improved and popularized during the Han Dynasty. It is usually in the form of long gown, cross collar, wrapping the right lapel over the left, loose wide sleeves and no buttons but a sash. Although simple in design, it gives different feelings to different wearers.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (4)Chinese Suit (Tang Zhuang): It is a combination of the Manchu male jacket of the Qing Dynasty and the western style suit. It is usually straight collared, with coiled buttons down the front. Its color and design are in traditional Chinese style but tailoring is western.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (5)Cheongsam (Qi Pao): Originated from the Manchu female clothes, it evolved by merging with western patterns that show off the beauty of a female body. Its features are straight collar, strain on the waist, coiled buttons and slits on both sides of the dress. Materials used are usually silk, cotton and linen. Cheongsam is the most popular Chinese attire in the world today.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (6)Chinese Tunic Suit (Zhongshan Zhuang): Also called the Yat-sen Suit, it is designed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen by combining the western-style suit and Chinese attire. It has a turn-down collar and four pockets with flaps. As Chairman Mao Zedong worn it quite frequently, it is also called the Mao Suit by westerners. It is the main attire from the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 till 1980’s. The country’s leaders still wear it today when attending important occasions, such as military parades.

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Other Types

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (7)Traditional Manchu Clothing: It is the traditional dress of the Manchu ethnic nationality, usually in the form of long gown and sometimes with a jacket or waistcoat outside. Since Manchu is the leading class of the Qing Dynasty and their dresses were strongly promoted, this kind of clothes was very popular in that period. The characteristics are round or straight collar, fasten with buttons from the right collar and a sash on the waist, two or four slits, and tight sleeves with cuffs shaped like horse hoofs.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (8)Traditional Clothing of the Other Ethnic Minorities: In addition to Manchu, the country has 54 ethnic minorities and each of them has their own unique costumes. Unlike the traditional Han Chinese costumes, these costumes are still widely worn today. Basically, they can be divided into two types: long gown and short coat with pants or skirt. They usually wear long gowns with hats and boots; others prefer short coat and generally wrap their head with cloth and wear shoes. People wearing the same type of clothes can be further distinguished by the costume details like the structure, craft and style, etc. Take the long gown for instance. The Mongolian and Tu nationalities prefer high collared gown with buttons down the front; the Tibet and Monba groups wear collarless gown with buttons on one side and the Uygur love those with buttons on the right.

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (9)
Clothing of Miao Ethnic Minority
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (10)
Clothing of Uygur People

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (11)Dragon Robe: It is so named because of the embroidered dragons on it. It can only be worn by the emperor, who was considered a dragon from heaven in the ancient times. Other characteristics of a dragon robe are round collar, buttons on the right and most of the time in bright yellow.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (12)Officials’ Uniform: Unlike modern China, almost all kinds of officials in ancient times had uniforms. They are strictly distinguished by colors, embroidered patterns and hats, etc. For instance, in the Ming Dynasty, the embroidered pattern on a first rank civil officer’s uniform was a crane, second rank a golden pheasant, third rank a peacock, fourth rank a wild goose, fifth rank a silver pheasant, sixth rank an egret, seventh rank a “purple mandarin duck”, eighth rank an oriole and ninth rank a quail.
Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (13)Traditional Wedding Costumes: Chinese traditional wedding costumes vary in different dynasties and time periods. However, they are red most of the time as red is considered lucky, happy and auspicious in the country’s culture. The most well-known are red chaplet and official robes, which are still widely worn today by newly wed in traditional style wedding ceremonies or for taking wedding photos.

(Video) the history of HanFu(Chinese TradItional Clothes)

Traditional Chinese Clothing: History, Types, Features (14)Related Link: Dress Code in China

- Last modified on Apr. 20, 2021 -

FAQs

What clothes did ancient Chinese wear? ›

People in ancient China wore tunics. Women wore long tunics, sometimes with a second tunic over the first. Some worn pants under their tunics. The men worn shorter tunics over pants.

What are Chinese dress clothes called? ›

Cheongsam
A woman in a cheongsam
TypeDress
MaterialSilk, cotton
Place of originChina

How did ancient Chinese make clothes? ›

Generally clothes made of hemp were loose fitting pants and shirts. The people of higher status wore clothes made of silk. Silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms and is soft, light, and beautiful. The Chinese were the first to make silk and kept how to make it secret for hundreds of years.

What is the history of Chinese clothing? ›

The “real” clothes were not invented until about 5,000 years ago by the Yellow Emperor. By the Shang Dynasty (17th century BC - 1046 BC), the basic features of traditional Chinese attire were created, as well as the general pattern of blouse plus skirt.

Do Chinese still wear traditional clothes? ›

Today, wearing Hanfu has become a fashionable thing among many young Chinese, as you can see, there are many Hanfu societies in universities. People get together with their Hanfu collection, taking photos in traditional style and appreciating the beauty of traditional clothing.

Why is Chinese clothing important? ›

Chinese clothing has been shaped through its dynastic traditions, as well as through foreign influences. Chinese clothing showcases the traditional fashion sensibilities of Chinese culture traditions and forms one of the major cultural facets of Chinese civilization.

Why was clothing important in ancient China? ›

Ancient Chinese clothes were more than just garments to cover the body. They were the symbols of prestige and the embodiment of culture, and essential to show a person's social status.

What is the name of traditional Chinese male clothing? ›

The traditional Chinese Hanfu-style of clothing for men was gradually replaced. Over time, the Manchu-style of male dress gained popularity among Han men. Changshan was considered formal dress for Chinese men before Western-style suits were widely adopted in China.

What are Chinese coats called? ›

Tangzhuang (Chinese: 唐裝; pinyin: Tángzhuāng; lit. 'Chinese suit'), sometimes called Tang suit, is a kind of Chinese jacket of Manchu origins, characterized with a mandarin collar closing at the front with frog buttons.

What is a Chinese kimono called? ›

Hanfu has influenced the traditional clothing of many neighbouring cultures, including the Korean hanbok, the Japanese kimono, the Okinawan ryusou, and the Vietnamese áo giao lĩnh.
...
Hanfu
Simplified Chinese汉服
Traditional Chinese漢服
Literal meaning"Han Chinese's attire"
4 more rows

What are some traditions of China? ›

11 Customs That Are Unique to China
  • Giving hongbao during Chinese New Year.
  • Celebrating two birthdays.
  • Eating dumplings during the Winter Solstice.
  • Drinking hot water.
  • Downing your drink after saying “ganbei”
  • Offering and receiving business cards both hands.
  • Giving change at the check-out counter.
  • Wearing red underwear.
Jun 1, 2018

What is used to make clothes? ›

There are nine major types of raw materials commonly used in clothing today.
  1. Synthetic materials. The source of synthetic fibres and fabrics is the fossil fuel crude oil. ...
  2. Cotton. ...
  3. Cellulosic fibres/viscose. ...
  4. Wool. ...
  5. Silk. ...
  6. Leather. ...
  7. Bast fibres. ...
  8. Experimental fabrics.
Dec 10, 2021

Why are clothes made in China? ›

Traditionally, China has been attractive to brands from all over the world for its huge labour pool and production capacity as well as sophisticated factories and efficient supply chains. Crucially, relatively low wages keep production costs down and thus maximise margins for brands, from fast fashion to luxury.

When did clothes start being made in China? ›

The mid-1970s saw the emergence of large textile mills and factories in China and other developing countries in Asia and Latin America. These operations offered incredibly cheap labor and raw materials, as well as the capacity to quickly manufacture huge orders.

What are 5 facts about ancient China? ›

10 Ancient China Facts for Kids
  • Ancient China spans over 1800 years. ...
  • There were three main dynasties. ...
  • The Zhou dynasty is split into two parts. ...
  • Proof for the Xia dynasty emerged only recently. ...
  • Sun Tzu lived during the Eastern Zhou period. ...
  • The first parts of the Great Wall of China were built.
Oct 30, 2021

What are Chinese style shirts called? ›

Traditional Chinese clothing, called Hanfu, dates all the way back to the Han dynasty.

What is a Tang shirt? ›

Modern Chinese Preppy

With its mandarin collar and handmade frog buttons, the Tang shirt jacket has a naturally scholarly look that goes well with smart casual outfits.

What do Chinese teachers wear? ›

Public schools would typically require teachers to dress smart-casual, so for men this may be trousers/ chinos and a casual shirt, and for women this may be a skirt/ trousers with a top. Classes at public schools are generally a little less interactive and more formal, requiring an outfit to match this ethos.

What are the 8 most popular tradition in China? ›

Here are eight for your list:
  1. Spring Festival. ...
  2. Tomb Sweeping Day. ...
  3. Dragon Boat Festival. ...
  4. National Day. ...
  5. Peach Blossom Festival. ...
  6. Shanghai Longhua Temple Fair. ...
  7. Lantern Festival. ...
  8. Laba Festival.
Mar 14, 2017

How many Chinese traditions are there? ›

As of 2018, 53 noteworthy Chinese sites were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List: 36 Cultural Heritage, 13 Natural Heritage, and 4 Cultural and Natural Heritage.

What is the tradition and culture? ›

The main difference between culture and tradition is that traditions describe a group's beliefs and behaviors that are passed down from one generation to another. Culture describes the shared characteristics of the entire group, which has been amassed throughout its history.

How many types of clothes are there? ›

There are two main types of fabrics: natural and synthetic. Natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, silk, and linen are made from animal coats, cotton-plant seed pods, fibers from silkworms, and flax (fiber from the stalk of a plant), respectively.

Who invented clothes? ›

Prehistoric Period. The first known humans to make clothing, Neanderthal man, survived from about 200,000 B.C.E. to about 30,000 B.C.E. During this time the earth's temperature rose and fell dramatically, creating a series of ice ages throughout the northern areas of Europe and Asia where the Neanderthal man lived.

How do you draw clothes? ›

How to Draw CLOTHES Wrinkles, Folds and Creases | 10 Art Tips

How many clothes are made in China? ›

In 2015, approximately 31 billion units of apparel had been produced in China. International trade figures further emphasize China's current position as the world's largest textile-exporting country. In 2019, China accounted for over 39 percent of the world textile exports, followed by the European Union and India.

Are Chinese clothes safe? ›

A report states that imported clothing from China contains unacceptable levels of toxic chemicals. Chemicals residues on clothing are hazardous to human health.

Why do Chinese clothes smell? ›

Some Chinese clothing manufacturers use formaldehyde or sulfur so they won't let clothes crease.It is therefore a fishy odor that is found in clothing. Furthermore, they affect your other Chinese products because they emit these two chemicals.

Where are clothes made in China? ›

While there are 50 textile clusters in China, the five provinces of Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong in the eastern coastal region are 70 percent of China's overall textile production.

Where are the clothes made? ›

The countries where most of our clothes are made, from the high street are made in are Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

How can you tell how old clothes are? ›

How To Use RN Numbers To Determine Vintage Clothing Age

What is a Chinese kimono called? ›

Hanfu has influenced the traditional clothing of many neighbouring cultures, including the Korean hanbok, the Japanese kimono, the Okinawan ryusou, and the Vietnamese áo giao lĩnh.
...
Hanfu
Simplified Chinese汉服
Traditional Chinese漢服
Literal meaning"Han Chinese's attire"
4 more rows

Do the Chinese wear kimonos? ›

The Chinese kimono was and continues to be a highly stylized garment. Once worn only by the Chinese upper class, now it is a common choice for people throughout the world. Today, it is more commonly worn by women than men.

Why do Chinese wear Hanfu? ›

Many supporters believe that wearing Hanfu brings them a strong sense of national identity. Many universities in China have a Hanfu Society whose members wear Hanfu to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals, and they use that opportunity to introduce their Hanfu garments to others.

What are China cultural traditions? ›

With a rich history of more than 5,000 years, China enjoys many traditional festivals that you may encounter on a trip to China such as the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival) to the Dragon Festival and Mid-autumn Day, each with its own significance and features.

What are traditional Chinese shirts called? ›

Traditional Chinese clothing, called Hanfu, dates all the way back to the Han dynasty.

What are Chinese coats called? ›

Tangzhuang (Chinese: 唐裝; pinyin: Tángzhuāng; lit. 'Chinese suit'), sometimes called Tang suit, is a kind of Chinese jacket of Manchu origins, characterized with a mandarin collar closing at the front with frog buttons.

What are Chinese shirts called? ›

Changshan
Literal meaningLong shirt
Transcriptions Standard Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin Chángshān
Changpao
Chinese長袍
10 more rows

What is the history of the kimono? ›

Meaning 'the thing to wear', the term kimono was first adopted in the mid-19th century. Originally worn by commoners, or as an undergarment by the aristocracy, from the 16th century kimono became the principal item of dress for all classes and both sexes.

Who made the first kimono? ›

The first instances of kimono-like garments in Japan were traditional Chinese clothing introduced to Japan via Chinese envoys in the Kofun period (300 – 538 CE; the first part of the Yamato period), with immigration between the two countries and envoys to the Tang dynasty court leading to Chinese styles of dress, ...

What is kimono dress? ›

Derived from the Chinese pao-style robe, the essential kimono is an ankle-length gown with long, expansive sleeves and a V-neck. It has neither buttons nor ties, being lapped left over right across the chest and secured at the waist by a broad sash known as an obi. kimono.

What is Han style? ›

Han Style is a pioneering, 1st generation multi-brand store in Seoul. Located in the fashionable Cheongdam-dong area, the store presents refined luxury designer brands from all over the world to its stylish clientele.

What is a hanbok dress? ›

Modern Hanbok

For modern Koreans, hanbok are the formal clothing worn during Korean holidays or on special occasions. Children wear hanbok on their first birthday and adults wear it for their wedding ceremony or major events within the family, including funerals.

What are 3 traditions in China? ›

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are considered as “three pillars” of ancient Chinese society. The majority of Buddhist believers are Han Chinese. However, since many Han Chinese practice a historical/cultural Buddhism rather than a daily practice, it can be difficult to count their exact numbers.

What are the 8 most popular tradition in China? ›

Here are eight for your list:
  1. Spring Festival. ...
  2. Tomb Sweeping Day. ...
  3. Dragon Boat Festival. ...
  4. National Day. ...
  5. Peach Blossom Festival. ...
  6. Shanghai Longhua Temple Fair. ...
  7. Lantern Festival. ...
  8. Laba Festival.
Mar 14, 2017

How many Chinese traditions are there? ›

As of 2018, 53 noteworthy Chinese sites were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List: 36 Cultural Heritage, 13 Natural Heritage, and 4 Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Videos

1. Making the Narrowest and Neatest Bias Binding | Traditional Chinese Clothes Making Technique
(Claire Yixuan Zhang)
2. Chinese Clothing
(Unique One)
3. What are the features of Hanfu in each period?
(CGTN)
4. Chinese Hairstyles Through the Dynasties
(Off the Great Wall)
5. Short & Sweet Lessons on Korean History & Culture: Ep.4 "Fashion of Korea: Hanbok”
(Youtube KCCLA)
6. Cultural Appropriation: Can A Non-Chinese Person Wear A Qipao or Changshan?
(Merit Store)

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