The cheongsam, or Qipao in Chinese, evolved from a
style of ancient clothing worn by the Manchu ethnic minority.
During the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) they unified
China, and standardized the nationwide costume as well. At that
time, men wore a long gown and a mandarin jacket over the gown,
while women wore the cheongsam. Although the 1911 Revolution
toppled the rule of the Qing Dynasty, this female dress survived
the political change and, with succeeding improvements, has become
the traditional dress for Chinese women.
From the 1930s, cheongsam almost became the uniform for women.
Folk women, students, workers and high society women all wore the
cheongsam, which even became a formal suit for occasions of social
intercourses or diplomatic activities. Later, the cheongsam even
spread to foreign countries and became a favorite among foreign
After the 1940s, influenced by new fashions at home and abroad,
the cheongsam became narrow-sleeved and fitted to the waist, with a
relatively loose hip covering, and its lower hem reached the
ankles. Next emerged various forms of cheongsams we see today that
emphasize color decoration and set off the beauty of the female
The main reason that Chinese women like to wear the cheongsam is
that it fits the female Chinese figure well. The style has simple
lines and looks quite elegant. What's more, it is suitable attire
during any season by both the old and the young.
According to the four seasons and the wearers' needs, the
cheongsam can either be long or short, unlined or interlined,
woolen or made of silk floss. Moreover, when constructed with
different materials, the cheongsam presents different styles.
Cheongsams are made of silk stamped with patterns of fine and
dense flowers, plain lattices or thin lines, all demonstrating
feminine charm and modesty; those made of brocade are eye-catching
and magnificent and suitable for formal occasions that require
greeting guests and attending banquets.
The cheongsam displays strong national flavor and embodies the
beauty of Chinese traditional costumes. It not only represents the
Chinese female costume but also has become a symbol of a
traditional oriental costume.