Cheongsam: Bringing Back Chinese Tradition

Wedding traditions, rituals and ceremonies may differ from country to country, but the essence of marriage and its significance remains the same: weddings signify the lifelong commitment between two people in the eyes of the law and the church they belong to.

The Chinese are renowned for their rich culture and tradition. The Chinese culture is considered one of the most prominent and influential cultures around the world. Chinese clothing in particular, has found its niche in the Western market after having been ingrained in popular culture for decades.

A number of Chinese women today still prefer traditional Chinese wedding garb over Western styles. The cheongsam remains one of the most popular wedding dress styles available on the market. More and more Western fashion designers are creating cheongsam-inspired wedding dresses that are marketed and sold worldwide.

The Cheongsam

For the bride who wants to follow Chinese tradition, or add a bit of Eastern flair to her wedding ceremony, the cheongsam is the perfect wedding attire for the traditional Chinese wedding.

The cheongsam, also known as the qipao or the mandarin gown, is a traditional one-piece and figure-hugging dress. In some Western cultures, the cheongsam is often mistaken for the Japanese kimono due to their similar design and style.

During the Communist takeover in Mainland China, a number of Shanghai tailors fled to nearby Hong Kong and began creating both men’s and women’s clothing, which they referred to as chèuhngsàam. Although the word cheongsam may have its variations, the modern day understanding of the word “cheongsam” is a garment worn predominantly by women.

Historical and Cultural Significance of the Cheongsam

The practice of wearing the cheongsam started in the Qing Dynasty, when the Manchu established rule in the whole country. Manchu women were required to wear a garment called the qipao, which was a one-piece dress. The qipao was loose-fitting and covered most of the woman’s body. The wearing of the Manchurian qipao was a way to abolish the practice of donning Han Chinese clothing.

After 300 years, the cheongsam underwent several alterations and modification to turn the clothing into something more suitable for the modern day Chinese population. Eventually, the cheongsam became the prototypical garment worn by Chinese women.

The modernized cheongsam featured a form-fitting and high cut dress with a slender silhouette. Instead of hiding the wearer’s curves, the modern cheongsam is now used to highlight and accentuate the woman’s natural body shape.

Although the cheongsam’s popularity in Shanghai waned during the 1949 Communist Revolution, the Shanghainese refugees and migrants brought the cheongsam to Hong Kong fashion where its popularity continues today.

Due to the restrictive nature of the dress and the heightened popularity of Western clothing, the cheongsam is now commonly recognized either as a uniform for different establishments and companies or a type of Chinese formal wear.

Modern Cheongsam Styles:

Today, you will find numerous cheongsams and cheongsam-inspired wedding dresses on the market. The key to finding the perfect cheongsam is looking for the style that suits you and appeals to you best. Cheongsams come in different colors and modern designs.

If you want to follow tradition, wear a red cheongsam on your wedding day. The color red is considered lucky in Chinese culture, and since luck is something that most newlyweds wish for themselves, then the color seems particularly apt for a wedding.

While most cheongsams come in sleeveless designs, you will also find a number of this type of clothing with capped sleeves and long wide sleeves. Cheongsams also come in different lengths. For a more sophisticated and formal look, go for a long-sleeved, ankle or floor-length cheongsam. If you want a more playful and modern appearance, then find a short and sleeveless mandarin gown.

Another factor you have to consider when choosing between cheongsams has to do with decorations. Pick a cheongsam with intricate detailing or embroidery. Famous motifs used for cheongsams include delicate blossoms, the bright phoenix and amazingly detailed dragons.

Check out the chinese cheongsam discussed in detail below.

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