The Chinese are a fashionable set of people and have set many trends since ancient times. Their clothing has seen immense variations and influences from the olden days. Today, the modern Chinese people have adopted various fashions from all over the world. Even then, there are many designs that still draw inspiration from the ancient Chinese culture. This form of clothing has its own beauty and grace. Therefore, we can see that there are many of these styles prevalent even today. These are popular not only in China, but around the globe as well. There are various dynasties that influenced the styles of Chinese clothing. From long robes to wide sleeves, each had their own distinct pattern, which made its mark.
The Han Chinese people have a long history in terms of the clothing worn. The Han Chinese clothing, or the Hanfu, covered all the traditional clothing worn by people in that era. Hanfu was considered to be very important by the Han Chinese as far as their culture was concerned. It was also known that one has to follow the rules of dressing that belonged to the Hanfu styles as a mark of respect. The basic style and design of the Hanfu were developed to a great extent in the Shang Dynasty. The Shang dynasty saw 2 basic styles - the Yi and the Shang. The Yi is the coat worn on top and the Shang is the skirt that is worn beneath. There was a major use of sash instead of buttons, and the sleeve cuffs were styled narrow. The colors of the fabrics were basically in warm tones.
The western Zhou Dynasty also followed similar styles and designs as that of the Shang dynasty. This is where one saw the variations in the sleeves, narrow as well as broad. The lengths of the skirts saw different levels, from the knee to the ankle. Here, the different styles that were worn also created a distinction between the people.
It was during the Sui and the Tang dynasty that one saw the acceptance of more ideas. The ancient Chinese dress was divided into two patterns, the Pien-fu and the Shen-I. It also used minimal stitches on the fabric. The structure was plain and there was a wide use of embroidery and silk sashes to add to the design of the dress.
Ancient Chinese clothing saw a lot of robes that are popular even today. These robes were used by emperors and were very heavily embroidered with various patterns. The dragon robe was a popular type that had patterns of dragons embroidered all over. This was actually seen first in the Zhou Dynasty. These robes consisted of nine yellow dragons and five cloud patterns that are considered to be auspicious for the wearer. The dragon robe derived its name in the Qing Dynasty.
The clouds on the robes further incorporate 12 patterns. These also have a symbolic meaning to express. The nine and five combinations were deliberately calculated when designing the robe, as it symbolized the dignity of the throne. These dragons are embroidered on the front, back, knee areas, or even the shoulders.
Yet another kind is the Cheongsam. This is very popular even on the international market. Also known as the Qipao, the Cheongsam was actually a one-piece dress. The ancient Chinese Manchu women mainly wore this in the olden days. These were easy to adorn and maintain, and complemented the figure of women. The basic style of the Cheongsam consists of a high neck with a closed collar and sleeves that are either short or medium. The Cheongsam is buttoned on the right side and has a fitted waist. It also has slits that go up from the sides. Today, we can see many variations of the Cheongsam available to suit the modern tastes.
The ancient Chinese clothing style also saw a dominance of the tunic suit, also known as the Zhongshan Zhuang or the Zhongshan suit. This consisted of a tunic that had 4 pockets and a turned-down collar. This style also found an acceptance and went through few modifications along the way.
Chinese clothing often used patches of embroidery, which are mainly animal prints. The embroidery was called the Buzi and was seen in the Ming and Qing Dynasty. These are very intricate and beautiful in its appearance. The various animals that were used also symbolized the rank of the officers who wore them on their garments.
The ancient Chinese clothing showcases a rich cultural tradition that has influenced its design. These continue to be a major form of inspiration for young designers even today.