Chinese Traditional Clothing: Hanfu, Qipao, Tang Suit, Zhongshan Suit

Traditional Chinese clothing has been a recognizable staple of the culture for centuries. Constructed with beautiful fabrics like silk and satin, these clothes are steeped in history and have become an integral part of Chinese society. But why is traditional Chinese clothing so unique? What makes it stand out from other types of clothing? This blog will introduce the four traditional Chinese clothing to you!




Hanfu is clothing from the Han Chinese, with a long history spanning over three thousand years.

People have associated hanfu with silk since antiquity. The practice of silk farming is believed to have been discovered by the consort of the Yellow Emperor Leizu, who is also respected as the Goddess of Sericulture.

Hanfu has transformed since its generally accepted origin in the Shang dynasty. Many of the earlier designs are less gender-specific and more straightforward in structure compared to later examples. Contemporary garments typically include multiple components, with men typically wearing trousers and women usually donning skirts.

Hanfu has many distinguishing characteristics that set it apart from other traditional garbs. These include wide sleeves, high collars, loose-fitting garments, and complex layers of embroidery and ornamentation.

Clothing Styles Of Hanfu

l Quju (曲裾), in Han dynasty

l Jiaoling Ruqun (交领襦裙), in Wei and Jin dynasties

l Qixiong Ruqun (齐胸襦裙), in the Tang dynasty

l Qiyao Ruqun (齐腰襦裙), in Five dynasties

Qipao (Cheongsam)

Related Article:
 Chinese Ming Dynasty Clothing & Fashion – History, Tradition, And More
 Chinese Qing Dynasty Clothing & Fashion – History, Tradition, & More

In the latter 1910s, following the Qing dynasty’s demise and the Republic of China’s establishment, females started participating in the educational system. They donned an early version of the cheongsam, rapidly becoming the customary garments of female inhabitants in urban hubs such as Beijing and Shanghai.

A qipao has six features: a Mandarin collar, panko buttons, the ‘large front,’ the edging, sleeves, and the length and side slits.

Considerations On Wearing Qipao

1. Respect the culture the qipao comes from by acknowledging the custom and adapting it to your style.

2. Ensure that you have the correct measurements and materials for the qipao, as an ill-fitting garment can ruin its beauty and comfort.

3. Pay close attention to how others perceive you while wearing a qipao; remember that this is an item of clothing associated with a certain culture and may garner unwanted impressions if worn in inappropriate contexts.

4. Consider whether you are trying out this style for fun or displaying it proudly as part of your identity before donning a qipao.

Types of Qipaos

Beijing Style Qiao

The cheongsam originates from Beijing and is a rather customary and orthodox dress. People usually craft it by hand. It preserves the typical straight and A-shaped outline that suppresses the female body’s curves.

The Beijing-style qipao conveys the elegance of Chinese culture through its design; it bestows the person wearing it a reserved, concise, gorgeous, and dignified look.

Shanghai Style Qipao

The Shanghai-style Cheongsam originated in Shanghai and is a widespread and predominant fashion.

The Shanghai-style Cheongsam particularly expressed advanced thoughts of women’s body liberation from the 1930s to 1940s; it also embodied modernity in “striving for health, fashion, and physical attractiveness.”

Jiangnan Style Qipao

The Shanghai-style Cheongsam, especially, conveyed progressive messages of female body emancipation from the 1930s to 1940s; it also symbolized the idea of modernity in “pursuing health, fashion, and natural beauty.”

The sophisticated neckline and embroidered patterns on the edges of the cuff characterize it.

Tang Zhuang(Tang Suit)

tang suit

The Chinese clothing style of the late Qing Dynasty is famous for “Tangzhuang,” which has a hint of “export to domestic sales” in its name. Foreigners refer to Chinese communities as “Tang People Street,” thus christening the outfit “Tangzhuang.”

Tang Zhuang is a short tunic with round and high collars and lapels that fasten down the front.

Zhongshan Suit

zhongshan suit

The contemporary Chinese tunic outfit is a form of men’s clothing originally identified in China as the Zhongshan suit, taking its name from revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan).

Not long after the creation of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen unveiled a style of clothing that had highly political implications as the nation’s official attire.

Zhongshan suit has four pockets, five big central buttons in the front, and three smaller buttons on each sleeve.

The four pockets indicate the Four Virtues of courtesy, integrity, sincerity, and modesty. 

The five buttons symbolize the branches of China’s former government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Examination, and Control) that persist in the Republic of China’s government in Taiwan.

Basic Forms Of Traditional Chinese Clothing

Two-Piece Clothing

Two-piece clothing is a popular style of traditional Chinese clothing. It comprises a top and bottom garment, typically made from lightweight, breathable silk or cotton.

Hidden buttons or Velcro often connect the two pieces, making them easier to put on and take off.

One-Piece Clothing

One-piece clothing is traditional Chinese clothing with a single, long garment covering the entire body.


Chinese traditional clothing reflects a culture deeply rooted in a long history of respect for tradition, family, and nature. These values influence the design of each article of clothing, giving it deeper meaning and an identifying place in Chinese culture.

Whether you are looking for an article to complete your wardrobe or just want to learn more about Chinese fashion, investigating its rich heritage is sure to shed light on why it remains so beloved even today.


What Are The Differences Between Chinese Culture And Western Culture In Clothing?

Chinese and Western cultures have very different approaches to clothing. For example, most Chinese traditional clothing is designed as a complete set that includes matching pieces like skirts, jackets, and hats. This approach emphasizes the overall aesthetic of the ensemble and is far less common in Western fashion.

Additionally, Chinese styles tend to feature more elaborate designs and decorations, such as embroidery or beading, which can take on symbolic meanings. Whereas, Western fashion emphasizes individual articles of clothing that people mix and match for variety.

What Occasions Require Traditional Chinese Clothing?

Traditional Chinese clothing is essential on many occasions, from weddings to unique cultural festivals. In traditional Chinese culture, clothes are usually chosen and tailored to commemorate events and express appreciation for nature’s beauty.

Weddings are one occasion that requires the bride and groom to wear traditional Chinese clothing. The bride usually wears a red qipao, a form-fitting dress with a mandarin-style collar and frog buttons down the front. The groom generally wears a black or blue chang shan with gold buttons in the front.

Are There Particular Colors Associated With Traditional Chinese Clothing?

Yes, there are particular colors associated with traditional Chinese clothing. The most popular colors include red, yellow, and purple. Red is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits, while yellow symbolizes power and prosperity. Purple is often seen as a sign of dignity and respect.

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