Qipao (Ch'ipau) is one of the most typical, traditional costumes for Chinese women. Also known as cheongsam, it is like a wonderful flower in the Chinese colorful fashion scene because of its particular charm.
In the past, the collar of the costume was made high and tight fitting to keep warm. Qipao has incorporated this feature, not just for preventing coldness but also for beauty. The collar of Qipao generally takes the shape of a semicircle, its right and left sides being symmetrical, flattering the soft and slender neck of a woman. The collar of Qipao is meticulously made, especially the buttonhole loop on the collar, which serves as the finishing touch. We can’t help but admire the designers’ artistic originality. The design of the front of Qipao depicts the maturity of women properly; reminding people of the line of a Chinese poem ’A garden full of the beauty of spring can not be prevented from being enjoyed.’
Qipao generally has two big slits at either side of the hem for convenient movement and display of the slender legs of women. Unlike a short-length skirt,
Qipaos can display Chinese women’s modesty, softness and beauty. Like Chinese women’s temperament, Qipaos are elegant and gentle.
Like other costumes, the beauty of Qipao comes first. Simplicity is one of its features from the collar, loop, chest, waist and hips to the lower hem, and a Qipao almost varies with a woman’s figure. It not only lays stress on the natural beauty of a female figure, but also makes women’s legs appear more slender. Mature women in Qipaos can display their graceful refined manner.
Besides its simplicity, Qipao provides designers with vast, creative space: some short, some long, with low, high, or even no collars at all.
Practicality always goes with beauty. Qipaos are worn in both urban and rural areas, its long-standing elegance and serenity making wearers fascinating.
When wearing Qipao, women should pay attention to the match as a whole; particularly middle-aged or elderly women should do so. Hairstyles, jewelry, socks and shoes should match Qipaos properly in color and design.
Today, with the development of the market economy in China, designs or styles of fashions are so dazzling as the stars that the eye cannot take them all in. As a result, people are often at a loss what to choose when facing the vast sea of fashions. On the other hand, it is just a golden opportunity for Chinese national costumes to regain their popularity. Fashion culture has become a point of intersection of social culture, reflecting economic developments, social progress and educational level.
Qipao, the classic dress for Chinese women, combines the elaborate elegance of Chinese tradition with unique elements of style. The high-necked, closed-collar Qipao / Cheongsam, with a loose chest, fitting waist, and the attractive slits, is one of the most versatile costumes in the world. It can be long or short, some with full, medium, short or even no sleeves at all - to suit different occasions, weather and individual tastes.
The Qipao / Cheongsam can display all women’s modesty, softness and beauty. Like Chinese women’s temperament, the Qipao / Cheongsam is elegant and gentle, its long-standing elegance and serenity makes wearers fascinating. Mature women in Qipao / Cheongsam can display their graceful refined manner. A Qipao / Cheongsam almost varies with a woman’s figure.
What serves as a worthy testament to the beauty of the Qipao / Cheongsam is, however, it does not require the wearer to pep up the look with accessories like scarves and belts. Designed to show off the natural softness of the female form, it also creates the illusion of slender legs. The overall picture: practical, yet ***y.
Because of its particular charm Qipao / Cheongsam is like a wonderful flower in the Chinese colorful fashion scene. Another beauty of the Qipao / Cheongsam is that it is made of different materials and can be worn either on casual or formal occasions.
In either case, Qipao / Cheongsam creates an impression of simple and quiet charm, elegance and attraction. With distinctive Chinese features Qipao / Cheongsam enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion.
In Northern China, e.g. Beijing, the term "Qipao" is popular - for the term’s origin please have a look at the history of Qipao. In Southern China the Qipao is also known as "Cheongsam". Cheongsam means "long dress", entered the English vocabulary from the dialect of China’s Guangdong Province (Cantonese).
There is a legend that a young fisherwoman lived by the Jingbo Lake. She was not only beautiful, but also clever and skillful. But when fishing, she often felt hindered by her long and loose fitting dress. Then an idea struck her: why not make a more practical dress for work？ She got down to sewing and produced a long multi－looped－button gown with slits, which enabled her to tuck in the front piece of her dress, thus making her job much easier. As a fisherwoman, she never dreamed that a fortune would befall on her.
The young emperor who ruled China at that time had a dream one night. In the dream, his dead father told him that a lovely fisherwoman in Qipao by the Jingbo Lake would become his queen. After awakening from his deep sleep, the emperor sent his men to look for her. Sure enough, there she was！ So she became the queen, bringing her Cheongsam with her. Manchu women all followed suit and soon the Qipao became popular.
We do not know whether the story is true or not. But one thing is certain. The Cheongsam came from the Manchus who grew out of ancient Nuzhen tribes. In the early 17th century, Nurhachi, a great political and military strategist, unified the various Nuzhen tribes and set up the Eight Banners System. Over the years, a collarless, tube－shaped gown was developed, which was worn by both men and women. That is the embryo of the Qipao. The dress is called Qipao in Chinese or translated as "banner gown", for it came from the people who lived under the Banner System.