The Chinese have always been known to be stylish throughout the different eras of history with their extravagant dressing style and details for embroidery. More importantly their clothing and trend setting ways emphasized different social statuses within the country at different periods of time. Men and women were fashion cautious back in those days too!
The discovery of silk way back in the 3500 BC was a trendsetter, though back in those days silk was reserved for royalty and high ranking officials and commoners often only wore cotton garments. The heavily embroidered clothing could be seen in the imperial court with certain emblems and colors reserved for royalty.
The dragon was most definitely reserved for the emperor and his heirs, the social status could be shown with the number of toes the dragon embroidery had. Imperial robes were often embroidered with mountains at the hem which symbolized longevity. Even shoes were embroidered! Now that’s what we call an eye for detail! Dressing with care was required you didn’t want to be walking around with the emperors emblems!
Most would say that Chinese dressing was rather conservative over the course of history but during the Tang dynasty fashion became errmm how do we say this…more revealing for our female counterparts with much more extravagant accessories. Bright colors and bold prints were used to create the most eye catching robes and accompanied with the most intricately designed hair decorations and jewelry. Tang female costumes oozed elegance, grace and femininity especially with the empire line dresses, this greatly symbolized the opening up and prosperity of the Tang dynasty.
In the Qing dynasty male and female clothing became much more conservative again with the males wearing wide sleeved long robes and females dressed in a shorter robe on the top half and a long wide skirt on the bottom. Embroidery was the main emphasis during the Qing dynasty with dragons for the emperor and royalty and phoenixes for the female royalty and nobility.
By 1911 under the influence of foreign occupation a new sense of fashion was to be revolutionized men could be seen dawning western suits and the birth of the Qipao for ladies created a new symbolic and iconic look for the generation. Today the Qipao is recognized in the west as the traditional dress for China.
Back in the days Qipaos could have been made from silk, rayon or cotton and different patterns coupled with decorative fastenings completed the look and last but not least the knee high slits on each side of the dress which showed the legs were subtle yet feminine. The iconic look has been recreated by many famous faces of the west and the east which goes to show the Chinese fashion has influenced modern fashion today!