Cheongsam:Complete Guide

what is cheongsam

Women’s clothing formed in the Republic of China

The cheongsam, also known as the robe, is the traditional clothing of Chinese women in China and the world. It is known as the quintessence of China and the national clothing for women.

The cheongsam was formed in the 1920s. Some scholars believe that its origin can be traced back to the Shenyi in the pre-Qin and Han dynasties. Although there are still many disputes over its definition and production time, it is still the most splendid Chinese clothing culture. one of the phenomena and forms.

The cheongsam became the most common women’s clothing after the 1920s in the Republic of China, and was identified as one of the national dresses by the government of the Republic of China in 1929.

After the 1950s, the cheongsam was gradually neglected, especially in the Cultural Revolution, it was criticized as “feudal dross” and “bourgeois sentiment”. After the 1980s, with the re-emphasis of traditional culture, as well as the influence of film and television culture, fashion shows, beauty pageants, etc., the cheongsam has gradually been revived not only in the mainland, but also in all fashionable places around the world.

In 1984, the cheongsam was designated by the State Council as the dress for female diplomats.

Since the Beijing Asian Games in 1990, the cheongsam has been chosen as the ceremonial clothing for the Olympic Games, Asian Games and international conferences and expositions held in China.

On May 23, 2011, the handmade cheongsam craft became one of the third batch of national intangible cultural heritage approved by the State Council.

In November 2014, at the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting held in Beijing, the Chinese government chose the cheongsam as the dress for the wives of the leaders of the participating countries.

The origin and development of cheongsam

When it comes to the beginning of the cheongsam fashion, it is generally believed that in the period of the Republic of China in the 20th century, Mr. Zheng Yimei said that “in the Qing Dynasty, women wore short clothes instead of cheongsam, and cheongsam began to be used after the Republic of China.” As for the specific year, previous studies have been relatively vague.

Both Mr. Zhou Xibao and Ms. Zhang Ailing believed that the cheongsam became popular after 1921. Zhou also inferred from the pictorial in 1923 and other materials that the so-called cheongsam was only one or two of the dozens of people in Shanghai at that time. In fact, given the sensitivity of the press in Shanghai to social phenomena at that time, the popularity of a new style will inevitably attract widespread attention, but it is difficult to find out about cheongsam in newspapers such as Shenbao before May 1925. The text, and a large number of materials provide evidence for the appearance of the cheongsam in 1925. In Beijing, the old imperial capital, there are also records showing that the cheongsam fashion began in 1925. Therefore, it is reasonable to regard the beginning of the popularity of cheongsam as 1925.

style origin

The origin of the style of the cheongsam has been debated a lot in the academic world. The main points are:
The first is represented by Mr. Zhou Xibao’s “History of Ancient Chinese Costumes”, which believes that the cheongsam is directly developed from the robes of the cheongsam women in the Qing Dynasty. However, some scholars believe: “Although the national cheongsam has a form similar to the cheongsam’s robe, it no longer has the meaning of the cheongsam’s robe. It would be biased to think that the national cheongsam was directly developed from the cheongsam’s robe. .”

The second type is represented by Professor Yuan Jieying’s “Chinese Cheongsam” and Professor Bao Mingxin’s “Chinese Cheongsam” and “The Record of Modern Chinese Women’s Wear”. They believe that cheongsam and cheongsam have a certain inheritance relationship, but at the same time believe that the source of cheongsam should be the narrow linen cloth in the Western Zhou Dynasty. Shaped tube or deep clothes of the pre-Qin and Han dynasties. Professor Cui Rongrong of Jiangnan University also said in his book “Complete Works of Modern Han Folk Costumes”: “Some people doubt that cheongsam is Manchu clothing… I think these perceptions are one-sided and superficial. Han robes have a history of more than 2,000 years, while Where do the historical origins of Manchu robes and gowns come from? I think the answer is easy to get.” Zhang Taiyan, a master of Chinese studies, also thought: “In the past, Zhuge Liang made sleeves and sleeves… Manchu clothing, the thread of sleeves and sleeves is also the thread.” The origin of Manchu costumes can be traced back to the costumes of Shu and Han during the Three Kingdoms period.

The third type is represented by Wang Yuqing’s “Realization of Women’s Robes and Clothing in Past Dynasties”, which believes that the robes worn by Chinese women date back to the Zhou, Qin, Han, Tang, Song and Ming dynasties, and it is not only in the Qing Dynasty that women wore robes Clothes. He believed that the cheongsam’s robe had an influence on the national cheongsam, but did not think that the two had a direct inheritance relationship, so he thought it was inappropriate to call the national cheongsam “cheongsam”, so he advocated that the cheongsam be renamed “褀pao”, and “Taipei Cheongsam Research Association” was renamed “Taipei Yupao Research Association”. For many years, people in Taiwan’s clothing industry have been calling for the correct name of the robe.

The fourth is represented by Professor Bian Xiangyang’s “On the Popular Origin of Cheongsam”, which believes that cheongsam is a westernized variation of Chinese clothing tradition. It combines the characteristics of the cheongsam vest and the new civilized clothes, and at the same time combines the compatibility of Western-style skirts, forming a new fashion and fashion that not only has the shadow of Western fashion but is different from traditional Chinese robes, but also has distinctive Chinese characteristics and a symbol of the times. The characteristics of clothing aesthetics can be a design model for the fusion of Chinese and Western clothing. He also believes that the origin of the name “cheongsam” is a “misnomer”, because the groups who advocated cheongsam earlier were social groups such as new women and students in the city who were deeply influenced by Western learning, pursued gender equality and opposed feudal ethics. The vast majority of them are of the Han nationality. Her (his) ancestors obtained the right not to wear Manchu clothing for Han women through bloody struggles in the early Qing Dynasty. It is impossible for them to restore the imperial era or the alien oppressors. Therefore, the conditions for the restoration of the cheongsam in the Republic of China were not met.

The reason why the name “cheongsam” became popular during the Republic of China was because throughout the Qing Dynasty, Han women’s clothing still retained the traditional “tops and bottoms” system for Han women. In addition to the dresses of noble women, ordinary women generally do not wear robes, while flag women are robes regardless of noble women’s dresses or ordinary women’s daily clothes. Therefore, under the subtle influence of nearly 300 years, ordinary people have become accustomed to the historical memory of “women wear robes = cheongsam robes”, so when the cheongsam began to appear, ordinary people would be given a kind of “cheongsam”. Lenovo. In fact, the advocacy group of the national cheongsam does not recognize the name “cheongsam”, but “only calls it a long gown, a long gown or a robe, which is confused with men’s clothing. On February 27, 1926, the Shanghai “Republic of China Daily” had a short article “Pao but not a flag”, it was proposed to be renamed ‘Chinese robe’. Some people suggested that it should be called a robe, but after going around, it was finally called back to a cheongsam.”

According to the textual research of “Cheongsam” and “Chongpao” Appellations: Although the official documents, letters, official documents and school textbooks of the Republic of China appeared in the same style as the “Cheongsam”, the appellation “Cheongsam” did not appear. More use of “women’s dress – clothing” and other titles. Therefore, the title of “cheongsam” is not an official title, but a popular name derived from folk conventions.

The fifth is that the cheongsam originated from the jacket skirt. In January 1940, “Liangyou Pictorial” described the evolution of the short jacket and long skirt through the cheongsam vest, and finally formed the cheongsam. The scholars of the Republic of China, Cao Juren and Li Yuyi, also held the same view.

The sixth type believes that women wearing cheongsam is the result of deliberately imitating men’s clothing and obsessed with equal rights between men and women.

Cheongsam concept

Whether “cheongsam” specifically refers to the cheongsam that appeared in the Republic of China, or whether it includes the “cheongsam robe” or “cheongsam women’s robe” in the Qing Dynasty, the definition of the concept of cheongsam, like the origin of cheongsam, is quite controversial in academic circles.

As we all know, during the Cultural Revolution, the cheongsam was criticized as a symbol of the “four olds”, “entitlement, capital, and repair”. Academia is gradually increasing.
In the early days after the reform and opening up, based on the policy of “the Chinese nation is one family” advocated by the government, and in order to prove that the cheongsam has a long history and noble origin, the study of the cheongsam is a conscious effort by scholars to make the relationship between the cheongsam of the people and the clothing of the cheongsam of the Qing Dynasty more important. Connect as many times as possible. “The concept of cheongsam, including the cheongsam robes of the Qing Dynasty or the cheongsam women’s robes, is not very special, but it is also a school of its own.”

For example, there is an annotation about cheongsam in “Ci Hai”: “The cheongsam, originally a kind of clothing worn by Manchu women in the Qing Dynasty, has no slits on both sides, the sleeves are eight inches to one foot long, and the edges of the clothes are embroidered with colorful green. The Revolution of 1911 Later, it was accepted by the Han women, and it was improved to: straight collar, right slanted front opening, tight waist, clothing length to below the knee, slits on both sides, and small cuffs.”

For example, Yu Feng’s point of view: “The cheongsam, as the name suggests, refers to the robes of the women of the Eight Banners before and after the entry of the Manchus in the Qing Dynasty, that is, the regular clothes of women outside the customs, mainly Manchu and Mongolia… This kind of cheongsam is mainly popular in the north, and the majority of women in the south are still Following the customs of the Ming Dynasty, they wore longer jackets and long skirts.”

Another example is Yuan Jieying’s point of view: “The regular clothes of the bannermen are different from the military uniforms. They are generally robes. … have always been based on the simple straight body as the basic style, which is called the cheongsam.” “The cheongsam was unisex clothing in the Qing Dynasty. It’s just a slight difference in the style of dress, and the official system and the civilian use are different in the selection of materials and accessories.”

However, the idea that the concept of “cheongsam” includes “the robe of the cheongsam” or “the robe of the cheongsam” in the Qing Dynasty has been questioned in academic circles from the very beginning. “In the vast literature of the Qing Dynasty, the word ‘cheongsam’ never appeared. In the Qing Dynasty, the cheongsam people called themselves cheongsam or cheongsam, and Manchu called it ‘yijie’. The word cheongsam as a The appearance of words with specific meanings was first seen in Shen Shou’s dictation in 1918, in the book “Xue Huan Xiu Pu” written by Zhang Rui: ‘There are three stretches: the big stretch is used to embroider the edge of the cheongsam, so it is called the edge stretch’. Here The cheongsam is used as a specific term to refer to a certain kind of embroidered clothing.”

The main point of view in today’s academic circles is that “cheongsam” refers to the national cheongsam, a women’s robe that matured and formed a relatively stable form during the Republic of China. The following are representative views:

Zhou Xibao thought in his book “History of Ancient Chinese Clothing”: “Manchu women’s robes… This kind of robe was very wide at the beginning, and then gradually changed to a small waist, and its time was close to the eve of the 1911 Revolution. This kind of robe, Later, it evolved into one of the main costumes of Han women, which was later called cheongsam.”

Bao Mingxin also made a special elaboration on this issue in his book “Chinese Cheongsam”: “To regard the cheongsam as a cheongsam’s robe or a cheongsam’s robe, although it seems to be correct, it is inevitable to hope that the cheongsam is just right. It seems that the connotation of cheongsam is much richer than that of the cheongsam or the cheongsam. In a broad sense, it can be said that the cheongsam has experienced the development of the cheongsam in the Qing Dynasty, the new cheongsam in the Republic of China and the contemporary fashion cheongsam. The new cheongsam in the period of the Republic of China is the most typical and most important. In a narrow sense, cheongsam is the national cheongsam, of course, it can also include the cheongsam that basically maintains the characteristics of the national cheongsam after the Republic of China.”

Bian Xiangyang said in his article “On the Popular Origin of Cheongsam”: “The so-called ‘cheongsam’ refers to a piece of clothing (One-Piece Dress) that belongs to the same clothes. At the same time, it must fully or partially highlight the following typical appearances Characterization: open or half-opened placket on the right front, detail arrangement of stand-up collar buttons and side slits, single-piece clothing, flat cutting of body and sleeves, etc. Although there is a view that cheongsam includes the Qing Dynasty cheongsam The robe and the women’s robe of the Republic of China, but the cheongsam in the usual sense generally refers to a style of women’s clothing after the Republic of China in the 20th century [5].

In the magazines of the Republic of China, there were also many discussions on the concept of “cheongsam”. For example, in the article “The Evolution of Women’s Cheongsam in the Fifteen Years” in Modern Family Magazine in 1937, the author wrote: “What is a cheongsam? It can be said that it is a new product suitable for the performance of Chinese women in the new era after the Republic of China, or it can be said that Chinese women imitate the style of women’s clothing in the Qing Dynasty.

Qing Dynasty flag

In the strong atmosphere of feudal ethics in the Qing Dynasty, it is impossible for women to show their curves as they are in modern times. The tailoring of the flag dress in the Qing Dynasty has always adopted a straight line, and the chest, shoulders, waist and hips are completely straight, so that the curves of the female body are not exposed. Although there is an opinion that the cheongsam was changed to the cheongsam of Manchu women, the cheongsam is not a cheongsam. The flag is the national costume of the Manchu people. Most of the flag suits have straight lines, loose body, no slit at the hem, and the bust and waist circumference are relatively close to the size of the dress; there are a lot of scroll decorations on the cuffs and necklines. Yellow is the exclusive color of the royal family and should not be used by the public. The colors of the flag are bright and complex, and the materials and other colors are diverse, and the color matching with high contrast is preferred. Add a few bright lace or colorful tooth roll designs to the neckline, sleeves and tucks. The flag is a kind of flat clothing, and the rolling has become the only design space for the flag except the fabric, so the multi-rolling is the beauty. In the late Qing Dynasty, “eighteen inlays” (ie, eighteen laces inlaid) were fashionable. The patterns on the flags of the Qing Dynasty were mostly based on sketching techniques. Dragons, lions, lions and animals, phoenix, cranes, and birds, plums, orchids, bamboos, chrysanthemums, and hundreds of flowers, as well as the Eight Treasures, Eight Immortals, Fu Lu Shou Xi, etc. are all commonly used themes.

national cheongsam

Entering modern times after 1840, Western culture infiltrated the local culture of the Qing Dynasty. Many large coastal cities, especially metropolises such as Shanghai, because of the mix of Chinese and Western cultures, took the lead in Western culture, and the clothing also began to undergo potential changes.

The cheongsam, which was popular in the 1920s, was shaped by the continuous improvement of traditional Chinese robes and Western clothing styles absorbed by women in the Republic of China. At that time, there was no professional clothing research center, and the changes of clothing styles were constantly changing under the influence of the fashion of the times.

From the 1920s to the end of the 1940s, the Chinese cheongsam was popular for more than 20 years. The styles have changed several times, such as the height of the collar, the short and long sleeves, and the height of the slits. The cheongsam completely got rid of the old-fashioned style and changed the long-term history of Chinese women. The old appearance of bound chest and arms fully displayed the female body and curvaceous beauty, which was suitable for the fashion at that time and made a contribution to the liberation of women. The blue cloth cheongsam was the most popular among the female students at the time, and it spread like wildfire for a while, followed by the whole country, and it almost became a typical dress for new Chinese women in the late 1920s. It is worth mentioning that at that time, the modern girls, social ladies, movie stars, etc., who were leading the clothing trend at that time, were unconventional in the style of the cheongsam, which also promoted its development. Among them, such as social flower Tang Ying and others, first appeared in Shanghai.

The Yunshang fashion company founded is. Since the 1930s, the cheongsam has almost become the standard clothing for Chinese women, and is worn by folk women, students, workers, and wives of dignitaries. Cheongsam has even become a dress for social occasions and diplomatic events. Later, the cheongsam was also spread abroad to be imitated by women in other countries.

The 1930s and 1940s were the golden age of cheongsam and the most glorious period of modern Chinese women’s clothing. At this time, the cheongsam was long and slender, which matched the silhouette of women’s clothing popular in Europe at this time. At this time, the cheongsam has completely jumped out of the limitation of the cheongsam’s robe, and it is completely a new style of “Chinese and Western”. First, there is the term “specialist”. Part of the cheongsam has been westernized, and the collar and sleeves are treated with western style, such as lotus leaf collar, western-style lapel, lotus leaf sleeves, etc., or double fronts with left and right openings. Although the application of these reforms was not extensive, it showed the freedom of people’s thinking at that time, and the original program of cheongsam was no longer necessary to follow. The combination of cheongsam and Western-style jacket is also a feature of the “special school”, which makes the cheongsam into the international clothing family, and can be combined with a variety of modern clothing, indicating that it has been “internationalized and modernized”. The cheongsam in the 1920s was still wide and straight; echoing the popular upturned sleeves at the time, the hem of the cheongsam was relatively large, and the whole body was also in the shape of “upside down”. However, the shoulders, chest and even the waist have shown a trend of fitting. Zhang Ailing said: “Chuxing’s cheongsam is stern and upright, with a puritanic style.” The “Chuxing” said by this female writer who is good at observing and describing fashion, if it refers to the 1920s, it is “stern and upright.” “It must be her childhood impression.

The “improved cheongsam” appeared in the late 1930s. The cutting method and structure of the cheongsam are more westernized, the chest and waist darts are more suitable for the cheongsam, and the shoulder seams and sleeves appear at the same time, so that the shoulders and armpits also fit. Some people also use softer shoulder pads, which are called “beauty shoulders”. This shows that women are starting to ditch the old ideal shape, characterized by shaved shoulders. These tailoring and structural changes were all done in Shanghai. Mr. Jin Taijun, a descendant of Shanghai Hongxiang Company, firmly believes in this. Although he has not personally experienced the whole process, he can still get a lot of information about it from his master when he worked in Hongxiang in the 1940s. At this time, the cheongsam has matured and has been finalized, and the cheongsam in the future can no longer jump out of the basic shape determined by the cheongsam in the 1930s, and can only make some changes in length, fatness and decoration. The cheongsam loved by women all over the world is typical of the cheongsam in the 1930s. The cheongsam in the 1930s was modeled after the Shanghai style cheongsam.

In the 1920s, influenced by Western clothing, the improved cheongsam gradually became popular among women. There are many styles of cheongsam, including long cheongsam, short cheongsam, clip cheongsam, single cheongsam and so on. In the 1930s, the improved cheongsam almost became the standard clothing for Chinese women.

At this time, the fashion center had already moved from Su and Yang to Shanghai. Shanghai was also an important town for women seeking liberation. Missionaries, businessmen and revolutionaries competed to establish women’s schools, setting off a wave of feminist movement. The social climate of seeking emancipation has swept away the stereotypes and bad habits of dress and make-up. The cheongsam first appeared in the form of a vest, which was long and reached the back of the foot and was added to a short jacket. Later, the long vest was changed to a style with sleeves, which became the prototype of the new cheongsam. It is said that the Shanghai female students who were the first to become popular are the originators of the popularity of cheongsam. At that time, female students, as representatives of intellectual women, became the ideal image of the society. They were the symbols of civilization, the forerunners of fashion, and even celebrities and fashionable figures all dressed up as female students.

modern cheongsam

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a short jacket with flared wide sleeves was popular, and a long sleeveless vest with the front and back hem of the jacket reached the ground. Since then, the cheongsam has made some changes in the sides, sleeves, lapel, collar, etc., and added decorations, resulting in complicated changes. However, it still maintains the straight and wide style of the old-style cheongsam vest, and adopts the traditional straight line cutting method, which does not reveal the slender figure of women. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the cheongsam changed repeatedly in terms of length, width, slit height, long sleeves, short sleeves, high collar and low collar. In 1929, influenced by European and American short skirts, the original cheongsam of moderate length began to shorten, the hem shrunk to the knee, and the cuffs became shorter and smaller. Later, there was a school uniform-style cheongsam, the hem was shrunk to 1 inch above the knee, and the sleeves were Western-style. This change was criticized, and after 1931, the cheongsam began to grow longer and the hem sag. In the mid-1930s, it developed to the extreme, and the bottom of the robe fell to the ground to cover the feet, which was called “sweeping cheongsam”. The sleeves of the cheongsam, which used to cover the wrists, were shortened to the elbows. Since then, the sleeve length has become shorter and shorter, shrunk to two inches below the shoulder, and almost sleeveless after 1936.

In the Qing Dynasty, the cheongsam did not have slits. After the cheongsam appeared, the cheongsam also quietly opened low slits on the left when shortening the sleeves. Later, the slits opened higher and higher, gradually reaching the knees to the thighs. Due to objections, the robe was once back below the knee. However, as soon as the pressure of public opinion decreased, the robes quickly increased, and the cheongsam with large slits became popular after 1933.

The traditional cheongsam is a straight line up and down, plus a high stiff collar. In the early 1930s, the waist of the gown began to shrink over time, and after 1934, the curves of the female body were finally revealed. The tall, ear-reaching collars gradually became shorter, and some later became collarless cheongsams.
At the beginning of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, people’s pursuit of beauty in clothing has completely transformed into a passion for revolutionary work. The leisurely and comfortable lady image represented by cheongsam has lost its living space in this atmosphere…

The 1950s – also had a brilliant moment

In the era when the people are the masters of the house, if there is fashion in clothing, the dominance of fashion has turned to the common people. By 1956, it is said that a certain leader of the Soviet Union proposed during his visit to China that Chinese clothing should reflect the new look of socialism. Therefore, the government called on “everyone to wear flowery clothes”.
The cheongsam that appeared at this time added a healthy and natural temperament than before. Not demonic, not charming, not delicate, not morbid, in line with the standard of “beautiful and elegant” at that time, and more practical.

The 1960s and 1970s – 20 years of neglect

The “Cultural Revolution” from 1966 to 1976 was a catastrophe for traditional culture and a disaster for cheongsam. On the eve of the “Cultural Revolution”, Wang Guangmei accompanied Liu Shaoqi on a visit to four countries and wore a cheongsam. Later, during the Cultural Revolution, he was convicted and criticized by the Red Guards.

1980s and 1990s – Gradual recovery

For the cheongsam that can best reflect this perfect figure, there is room for survival and development. It is said that the cheongsam, which was so popular back then, will return to people again. But surprisingly, the cheongsam has not become popular again, but only a few people are wearing it…
The heyday of the cheongsam is long gone, and it has been neglected for 30 years, and it seems a bit outdated in the country after it was opened up in the 1980s.

Since the 1990s – the beginning of a revival

The ideal image of women in the new era has changed. Tall and slender, with flat shoulders and narrow hips, people yearn for it. As the representative of Chinese fashion that can best set off the figure and temperament of Chinese women, the cheongsam has once again attracted people’s attention. With the re-emphasis of traditional culture, the cheongsam is also regarded as one of the symbols of the Chinese nation. Not only the leaders’ wives and female diplomats wear cheongsam in foreign affairs activities, but also the Miss Manners of all large international conferences and sports events held in China. The clothing also chooses cheongsam. In foreign countries, there are many designers who use cheongsam as inspiration to launch cheongsam with international flavor, and even the combination product of Chinese cheongsam and European evening dress.

In 2015, the cheongsam was used as the school uniform of Guangdong Zhenguang Middle School; in 2018, the cheongsam was used as the school uniform of Zhenguang Primary School.

Cheongsam goes to the world

As early as 1933, the Chinese cheongsam won a silver medal at the Chicago World’s Fair.

China 2010 Shanghai World Expo Organizing Committee once customized 60 sets of kesi cheongsam as a gift from the Chinese government to the wives of heads of state, each worth 100,000 yuan.

The wives of consul generals in Shanghai also wore cheongsams to participate in charity performances.

When foreign tourists come to Shanghai, they often take the custom-made cheongsam as the first program, and regard it as the representative of Chinese elements.

The media reported that American audiences wore cheongsams to watch the Chinese Cultural Festival performances.

The famous French fashion designer Pierre Cardin once said: “In my evening wear design, a large part of the work is inspired by the Chinese cheongsam.”

At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Swedish female athletes used the Chinese cheongsam style. More than 10 Olympic champions from various countries requested to make a Chinese dress, the cheongsam, for their wedding.

For European and American stars, wearing a cheongsam in public may be more of an exotic look. Chinese and foreign media have released beautiful cheongsam photos of Elizabeth Taylor, Paris Hilton, Kylie Minogue, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lopez, Bjork, and Ayumi Hamasaki.

The cheongsam style of Hollywood superstar Jennifer Lopez, British supermodel Kate Moss, Nicole Kidman, Victoria Beckham and Celine Dion can prove the international influence of cheongsam.

Singapore’s “Father of the Nation” Lee Kuan Yew and the wives of the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his son all wear cheongsams as dresses, and the wives of Singapore’s past Chinese presidents all wear cheongsams to show their Chinese identity.

Vietnamese officials believe that the traditional Vietnamese dress AO DAI (Ao Dai) originated from the Chinese cheongsam.

On August 29, 2006, Malaysia issued a set of stamps on the traditional costumes of various ethnic groups in Malaysia, among which the Chinese women’s costumes are cheongsam.

Cheongsam making process


Most of the classical flags have straight lines, loose body, slits on both sides, and the chest and waist circumference are relatively close to the size of the dress. The appearance characteristics of cheongsam generally require all or part of the following features: open or half open placket on the right front, stand-up collar with buttons, side slits, single-piece fabric, and flat cutting of the body and sleeves, etc. The slit is just one of many features of the cheongsam, not the only one, nor is it necessary.

Art is a social ideology that specifically reflects social life and expresses the author’s thoughts and feelings by shaping images. Designers and cheongsam After the evolution in the first half of the 20th century, various basic features and components of cheongsam gradually stabilized. Cheongsam has become a classic women’s clothing and one of the sources of inspiration for designers. Cheongsam is a traditional fashion for Chinese women that emerged in modern times, not a formal traditional national costume. It has both the vicissitudes of the past and the new era of today. The cheongsam itself has a certain historical significance, coupled with a relatively high degree of appreciation, so it has a certain collection value.

The characteristics of the national cheongsam that are consistent with the aesthetics of Western clothing are not accidental. At that time, Shanghai, a metropolis with mixed Chinese and Western cultures, was the most suitable for the birth of the national cheongsam that we may have been unable to find today. Although the evidence for its birth in Shanghai is not very conclusive, we can still assert that the Shanghai style cheongsam is the national cheongsam. typical. If we are a little bolder, we can further assume that the modern cheongsam, or cheongsam in a narrow sense, is the Shanghai style cheongsam. Because, in the minds of ordinary people, the association or image caused by the word cheongsam is the Shanghai-style cheongsam in the 1930s and 1940s. Beijing style and Shanghai style represent two styles in art and culture. concise.

Modern cheongsam has entered the era of three-dimensional modeling, with provincial roads appearing on the clothing pieces, the waist is more fitted and fitted with western-style sleeves, the length of the cheongsam, the sleeve length is greatly shortened, and the waist is more fitted.

style change

After a hundred years of evolution, the cheongsam has shown a variety of styles with the changes in people’s lifestyles and aesthetic tastes, making people dizzying. In the golden age of cheongsam development in the 1930s and 1940s, the styles were varied and very rich. Cheongsam’s lapel, collar, sleeves, skirt and other parts have different styles: lapel has round lapel, square lapel, long lapel, etc.; collar has Shanghai collar, ingot collar, low collar, etc.; sleeves have long-sleeved, short-sleeved, rolled Large sleeves, flower sleeves, and trumpet-shaped inverted large sleeves are inlaid, embroidered, rolled, and swayed in various patterns on the cuffs, which are very unique; in addition to the length of the skirt, there are also fishtail, wavy and other skirt styles. .

Collar ups and downs

The collar style of Chinese cheongsam has undergone changes such as cross collar, rectangular collar, straight collar, coil collar, round collar and stand collar. The collar of the cheongsam is full of patterns, and the height of the collar is first high and then low. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the leading style of the Shanghai collar was the “Yuanbao collar”. The collar shape of cheongsam is from high to low, low collar has become a popular trend, and gradually develops to no collar. Female students like to wear collarless cheongsam, because the style is novel and playful, and other women in the society have followed suit.
The collar types of cheongsam include ingot collar, round collar, square collar, low collar, phoenix collar, etc., as well as water drop collar, V-neck, and even stand-up collar. In order to ensure that the collar of the cheongsam is stiff, the master uses paste to harden the white cloth and put it into the collar. Some cheongsams made of high-grade fabrics are hand-stitched with a scraped white cotton cloth below the neckline, which is easy to remove and wash.

Cardigan method

Chinese robes were used to use the open-breasted form since Shang and Zhou, and most of them are right-shaped.

There are various styles of cheongsam placket, including single placket, double placket, oblique placket, straight placket, curved placket, pipa placket, medium-length placket, ruyi placket, large round placket, double round placket, etc. In the production of cheongsam, the double-breasted cheongsam is more complicated than the single-breasted cheongsam, and the double-breasted cheongsam is visually more beautiful and noble.

Sleeve change

Cheongsam sleeve styles mainly include wide-sleeved, narrow-sleeved, long-sleeved, medium-sleeved, short-sleeved or sleeveless. Sleeve patterns often change with the trend, sometimes long-sleeved, longer than the wrist, sometimes short-sleeved, short to the elbow, all of which reflect women’s diligent pursuit of beauty.
In the 1920s, the most notable feature of cheongsam sleeves was the appearance of large inverted sleeves. The sleeves were long to the elbow and were flared. The cuffs were rolled with zigzag, wavy, incense-shaped edges, or lined with white lace. . In the Beiyang Pictorial in 1927, a fashion illustration was published. The woman in the picture was already wearing a fashionable upside-down cheongsam, with a slightly loose waist and gorgeous fabrics.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the cheongsam had a clear waist, showing the delicate curves of women. Sometimes the sleeves were slender, longer than the wrist, sometimes as short as the elbow, and some even had sleeves as long as two inches below the shoulder, and some others. The cheongsam directly omits the sleeves. Sleeves are seeking new and different decorations, such as lotus leaf sleeves, slit sleeves, and lace sleeves.

flying skirt

The hem of the cheongsam has wide hem, straight hem, A-line hem, dress hem, fishtail hem, short front and long back, sawtooth hem, etc.

The change of the skirt is closely related to the change of the waist of the cheongsam. The cheongsams of Manchu women in the Qing Dynasty were indistinguishable from top to bottom. One piece was all over the body, longer than the ankle, with a high waistline and a wide and long skirt, which covered the curvaceous beauty of women. As the waist of the cheongsam narrows, the skirt also becomes straight.
In the early 20th century, the skirt of the cheongsam changed quietly. Through old photos and advertisements, it can be seen that the skirt of the cheongsam has become shorter, and the shoes and even the calf are exposed outside the skirt.

In the 1920s, a new style of cheongsam became popular in Shanghai. It was similar to a sleeveless vest and was covered with a short jacket. Later, the long vest was combined with a small short jacket. It was long to the legs and had large cuffs. The waist line is low, the curve is not obvious, and the hem reaches the knee.

In the early 1930s, the short cheongsam became popular, with the hem slightly over the knee and the skirt tightened to highlight the waist curve. In the mid-1930s, high-heeled shoes from Europe and the United States began to match the cheongsam, which changed the fashion of the cheongsam. The skirt gradually lengthened, and the delicate high-heeled shoes added to the beauty of the cheongsam, making the female figure more slender and sexy. With the lengthening of the hem of the cheongsam, the slits are also getting higher and higher.

In the late 1930s, some self-conscious women began to advocate low slits. The slits only reached the calf, and the length of the skirt was also developed to the extreme.

After the outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War, women from all walks of life joined the anti-Japanese national salvation movement. For the convenience of movement, the skirts were gradually shortened and the slits gradually increased.

In the 1980s, whether on the international fashion stage or in daily work and life, the cheongsam showed female beauty in a changeable manner and performed a different oriental style.


The common red cheongsam, with bright and eye-catching colors and unique styles, fully demonstrates the long history and culture of the Chinese nation, and focuses on the subtle and elegant charm of oriental women.


The common modern cheongsam is brocade, and the patterns are traditional Chinese ornaments such as Pisces, rich flowers, plum blossoms, etc. There are also hand-painted cheongsams designed with flower patterns depicted in Chinese ink painting techniques.

Cheongsam Main Controversy

National uniform controversy

The cheongsam was designated as the national dress in the “Regulations on National Uniforms” promulgated by the National Government on April 16 in the 18th year of the Republic of China (1929 AD). “National Uniform Regulations” Article 2 (Women’s Dress) stipulates: “1. Clothes: The style is as shown in the fourth picture, with a straight collar, the front front is closed to the right, and it is long to the midpoint of the knee and ankle, and the bottom of the trousers. , and the middle point of the hand vein, the quality is silk, linen, cotton and wool, color blue, button six.” After the founding of New China, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Premier Zhou Enlai called the incoming ambassador Huang Huang on the afternoon of July 12, 1950. Zhen, Geng Biao, Tan Xilin, Wang Youping, Peng Mingzhi, etc. held a meeting and suggested that diplomats “mainly wear cheongsams for ladies (clothes)”.

“The State Council Bulletin of the People’s Republic of China” in 1983 issued the 13th issue of “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dressing for Foreign Affairs Activities” and suggested that “male comrades should wear Zhongshan clothes and lesbians should wear cheongsam or long skirts”. “Civil servant dress etiquette” regulations also recommend that female civil servants wear cheongsam as formal dress. Not only female diplomats, but many first ladies of New China also choose to wear cheongsam when visiting foreign countries, such as Liu Shaoqi’s wife Wang Guangmei, Deng Xiaoping’s wife Zhuo Lin, Hu Jintao’s wife Liu Yongqing , Mrs. Xi Jinping’s wife Peng Liyuan, etc.

After the reform and opening up, all the large-scale sports events or international conferences held in China, the hostess wore cheongsam, such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics; China’s 2010 Shanghai World Expo; 1990 Beijing Asian Games, 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games; 2001 APEC meeting Shanghai Summit; 2014 Shanghai AsiaInfo Summit: 2014 APEC Conference Beijing Summit, etc., this is in line with the behavior of Japanese lady hostess wearing kimono, Korean lady hostess wearing hanbok, and Vietnamese hostess wearing Ao Dai.

In Japanese and Korean restaurants and sushi restaurants in China, the waiters generally wear Japanese and Korean kimonos and hanboks. Similarly, in Chinese restaurants or in the catering industry that represents the image of the country, the waitresses generally wear Chinese cheongsam, such as the Diaoyutai Kingdom. Hotel. On November 11, 2004, Sun Danxiang, Assistant General Manager of Building No. 18 of Diaoyutai State Guest House, revealed when visiting the Foreign Ministry’s website “Diplomacy Forum”: “Because all the waitresses in the State Guest House wear cheongsam, they also attach great importance to their body shape. Our service staff basically Selected from all over the country, recruited by the local government, not from the society.”

In 2007, Ye Hongming, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, proposed to make Hanfu the national uniform. After that, discussions on Chinese national costumes gradually emerged. The main discussion points were cheongsam and Hanfu, and the scope of discussion also included Chinese tunic suits and Tang suits.

In 2009, at the third meeting of the Eleventh National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Li Yansheng proposed to design Chinese clothes as national clothes.
In 2011, Viewpoint Culture Communication Co., Ltd., a television production and dissemination agency in charge of the External Propaganda Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (State Council Information Office), released the documentary “The National Dress Cheongsam”, which recorded the past and present of the cheongsam.

Robe Controversy

After learning about the evolution of Chinese robes over thousands of years, the term cheongsam is questioned.
Influenced by the cheongsam robes of the Qing Dynasty, women’s robes were collectively referred to as cheongsam since the Republic of China. Influenced by the environment at that time, most people knew that the cheongsam women in the Manchu Qing Dynasty had their own cheongsam, but mistakenly thought that Han women only wore skirts, which were different. Yu banner people. Therefore, people today say that skirts are the clothing of Han women, but they do not know that in two or three thousand years, Chinese women originally used both robes and skirts, with robe-shaped gowns as the traditional dress, but due to the changing times, there are robes and skirts mixed together The entanglement needs to be clarified urgently. Taiwan once had a name rectification campaign against the issue of cheongsam, and changed the name of cheongsam, the name of modern Chinese women’s robes, to Qipao. Remove its ambiguity and take its auspicious meaning. Judging from the name and the truth, it is logical to clarify the corruption and the truth. Chinese women have a variety of robes, which have been in the same line for two or three thousand years, and it should not only be covered by the word cheongsam.

Wang Yuqing, chairman of the Taiwan Chinese Cheongsam Research Association, once launched a name rectification campaign, changed the cheongsam to Qipao, and reported it to the official office for approval. The reason is as follows: “The qipao has been used by most of the shops in Yiyi for more than ten years. The second qi means auspiciousness. Why must the cheongsam be changed to the qipao, because the robes of Chinese women are ancient for two or three thousand years. The word cheongsam originated very late, only more than three hundred years, and can it be regarded as a women’s robe for three thousand years? In this cheongsam, the cheongsam worn by the cheongsam has its own inherent style and is relatively fixed, while the women’s robes of thousands of years in China The robes are colorful and far beyond what the cheongsam can look up to, so how can the cheongsam be called its name? Therefore, it must be called the cheongsam. Why is it not only called the robe or the women’s robe, because the robe lacks the exclusive part of speech for women, the women’s robe If you don’t get used to it, it doesn’t go smoothly, and there is no feasibility. If you don’t change it, it will not live up to the name, and the flag, Qi, and Qi will be in chaos, and there will be no consensus. There are many precedents, such as Kesi carving silk, Jin gentry chasing gentry and so on.”

In fact, the cheongsam changed its name to Qipao on New Year’s Day in 1974. On this day, the China Cheongsam Research Association held its inaugural meeting in Taipei City. The change of the flag to Qi was unanimously approved, and the articles of association were immediately revised and reported to the competent authority for approval. Then a verdict was made, and the official status was clearly stated.

As far as the evolution of robes is concerned, the evolution of robes is a history of national fusion and cultural fusion. The round neck of the popular robes in the late Northern Dynasty was influenced by the northern minorities. The sleeves changed from loose to tight and narrow, which was the result of the mutual influence of the ethnic and Han costume cultures. The loose and tight fit of the body is influenced by Western culture. In general, the evolution of Chinese robes is just like the evolution of the Chinese nation. The basic fact is that the evolution of traditional robes is basically based on the mainstream robe styles of the Han nationality, absorbing the good elements of other ethnic groups. Now it is deeply influenced by Western culture, putting the cart before the horse, until basically all the traditions are lost and the culture is lost. It is undoubtedly a major disaster for a nation. Calling for the inheritance of tradition, the inheritance of traditional clothing is undoubtedly the responsibility of every Chinese, which requires the popularization of traditional clothing culture by the public, the attention of the ruling party to clothing culture, and the advocacy of literary and art intellectuals.

Cheongsam History and Culture

The names of women in the Republic of China culture are always accompanied by their cheongsam photos, such as the three sisters of the Song family, Wu Jianxiong, Wu Yifang, Lin Qiaozhi, Ruan Lingyu, Zhou Xuan, Zhang Ailing, Lin Huiyin, Xiao Hong and Ding Ling.

Precious cultural heritage – The costumes of actresses in Suzhou Pingtan are still cheongsam, and other traditional rap arts such as drums and storytelling also use cheongsam as traditional costumes for actresses.

In the long-standing elections of Miss Hong Kong, Miss Hong Kong Chinese, Miss Asia and Miss Guangzhou Xiguan, they will definitely wear cheongsam during or at the end.

TV dramas and movies with cheongsam as a selling point continue to appear, such as the famous “In the Mood for Love” and “Lust, Caution” and so on.

On May 16, 2015, a cheongsam show initiated by the China Cheongsam Association and responded by 420 branches around the world was launched worldwide. 150,000 Chinese dressed in elegant cheongsam, challenging the Guinness World Record for the most cheongsam show.

Cheongsam anecdotes

1. Helen Foster Snow is the widow of Edgar Snow, the author of The Red Star Over China. This book records his meeting with Mao Zedong in the cave dwellings of Yan’an. When Helen went to Shanghai for the first time in 1931, she was only twenty-three years old. Helen’s friend Polly went all over the United States to raise money for the “gonghe” in China. Soong Ching Ling learned that she gave her own cheongsam and instructed Polly to wear it when she gave speeches all over the United States. The Snows arrived in the Philippines to continue raising money for China’s “Gonghe”, and Polly gave the cheongsam to the Snows. On March 17, 1998, 58 years later, this beautiful cheongsam returned to China from the United States and returned to the “Song Ching Ling’s Former Residence” at No. 46, Beiyan, Houhai, Beijing.

2. The number of cheongsams in Song Meiling’s wardrobe is probably unmatched in the current Guinness World Records. Song Meiling’s many cheongsams are closely related to having a diligent tailor. The tailor’s name is Zhang Ruixiang, a male tailor. The reason why Zhang Ruixiang is so loved by Song Meiling is because of her delicate handwork and loyalty. Zhang Ruixiang has been rushing to work almost every day to make cheongsam for Song Meiling. He can make a cheongsam about every two or three days. Song Meiling usually just glanced at it briefly, and ordered someone to take it to her closet for safekeeping, and then she never saw her wear it again. Therefore, Song Meiling’s cheongsam was probably worn all over the place. There are too many replacements. Zhang Ruixiang spent most of his time making clothes, except for New Year’s Eve, and only for Song Meiling. In addition, some officials and wives, in order to suit their own preferences, most of the things they gave to Song Meiling were made of fabrics. These silk and satin are enough. Zhang Ruixiang has been busy all year. Soong Meiling’s oversized wardrobe has become the world’s largest cheongsam storage room.

3. Chiang Kai-shek once disliked his foreign daughter-in-law (Chiang Ching-kuo’s Belarusian wife Jiang Fangliang, formerly known as Fina Ibateva Vahreva, Фаина Ипатьевна Вахрева in Russian) and refused to meet without wearing a cheongsam.

4. Cheongsam is Eileen Chang’s lifelong favorite
The master who once made cheongsam for Zhang Ailing recalled:

“How many cheongsams I have made for Eileen Chang, I can’t remember the exact number, but each cheongsam is “constructed according to the drawing”. For example, the cheongsam she wears in winter has a fleece clip and the leader can’t be too high or too rigid, because She said: “The head of the cheongsam is tall and stiff, keeping the head and neck straight, and it is very uncomfortable to sit and write. “Tight-fitting, narrow and long-sleeved, with slits on both sides to the knees. Plus a “sea tiger velvet” coat. In spring and autumn, I like to wear a “cheongsam dress” with a low neck and a waistband. And she painted the style of wearing a cheongsam in summer, For example, the style of “no collar, short sleeves and knee length” called “cool cheongsam” should be called “dress”, and it has been popular until contemporary times.

My master is a generous person who admires Eileen Chang. He not only paid no attention to Eileen Chang’s “deviance” (handing over the cheongsam pattern she drew to me to make for her), but also praised: “Eileen Chang has become a fashion designer!”

Eileen Chang once said: Even a woman who has no heart and heart will always fall in love when she talks about her “that brocade jacket”.

Author: utw20220728