The cheongsam gown (sometimes known as Qipao) developed from the Qing Dynasty’s Manchu female changpao (long gown). During the Qing Dynasty, the Han people referred to the Manchu ethnic group as the Qi people (the banner people), thus the title of their long gown, Qipao. While the phrases cheongsam and qipao are similar (the two words indeed belong to the same piece of clothing), their origins are not the same. A Cheongsam wedding gown is a Cantonese word that means “length gown,” whereas qipao is a Mandarin word that means “banner robe.”
Cheongsam Wedding Gown Designs
The cheongsam originated in the Qing Dynasty and has evolved into Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong styles. There are several variations in decorations, colors, materials, and designs.
- Cheongsams in Beijing Style
The Jing Pai style is another name for the Beijing style. Beijing’s cheongsam design seems more traditional than Shanghai’s, and Hong Kong is the capital of contemporary China. Beijing-style qipaos have significantly brighter colors and more intricate designs than other kinds. High-quality Beijing-style cheongsams were hand-made, which means they take longer to manufacture and cost more.
- Cheongsams in Shanghai Style
In Mandarin, the Shanghai style is the Hai Pai style. Shanghai-style cheongsams seem to be more professional and forward-thinking than Beijing-style cheongsams. The design and colors of Shanghai-style cheongsams incorporate more Western features. They combine eastern and western styles. Due to its trendy designs and slim shape, Shanghai-style cheongsams remained the most famous qipao style throughout the China Republic period.
- Hong-Kong style Cheongsams
Cheongsams in Hong Kong are trending in European fashion. Hong Kong-style cheongsams have shorter sleeves than Beijing and Shanghai variants. The embellishments are also simple. In the 1950s, it was usual to see ladies in Hong Kong dressed in classic cheongsam with heels, a leather bag, and white gloves.
Brides in Chinese weddings typically wear a white bridal gown and then change into a cheongsam wedding gown for the ceremony. Wedding cheongsams are updated to reflect current fashion trends.
When can you wear a cheongsam?
- You can wear a cheongsam in both formal and informal settings. However, most Chinese women would only wear a qipao on rare occasions like weddings, parties, gatherings, or when taking photographs. A cheongsam wedding gown is nearly always red since red is associated with good fortune in Chinese tradition.
- In China, regardless of age or social standing, everyone can wear a cheongsam. Nowadays, Young females wear cheongsams to events such as weddings and banquets.
A Chinese collar distinguishes cheongsams; classic Chinese knotted buttons that fasten the overlapping chest piece, two slits on both sides, and a fitting waist. Silk, cotton, or brocade are used to make cheongsams.