Chinese Dresses: The Qipao

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2010)
Headed to work: A restaurant hostess in a Qipao.
Headed to work: A restaurant hostess in a Qipao.

You don’t see average Chinese folk in traditional dress. I guess you don’t in other countries either. Germans don’t attend business meetings in lederhosen, unless that business meeting is held by a lederhosen manufacturer.

The Qipao, the high-necked, long-slitted traditional woman’s dress of China, is possibly one of hottest most attractive garments in the world, but it’s a tad impractical.  Yes, women wear them, to parties, on dates, etc., but your don’t (unfortunately) see Chinese women lounging around the house in a qipao. There aren’t gaggles of ladies in form-fitting Mandarin gowns strolling the boulevards.

In modern China the qipao has been relegated to uniform wear. It’s worn by three types of hostesses: The ones at restaurants, KTVs, and massage parlors.  When driving down a street you can tell the sort of establishment by the dress of the hostesses standing out front. Without seeing the business’s sign you know you are before a restaurant, KTV, or massage parlor. For fans of prepared foods, karaoke, or muscle kneading, it’s a win-win.

Mrs. Stevo has a few qipaos in her wardrobe. She can’t wear them at present – the watermelon-sized Stevo-to-be residing in her belly has seen to that. There are’t maternity versions of the classic Chinese dress.

I can’t think of traditional Canadian attire, but Canada is very young country with a heritage of combined cultures. A stereotypical outfit comes to mind, but that’s not “traditional”.  What about you? What is your country’s tradition attire? Does anyone wear it?

12 thoughts on “Chinese Dresses: The Qipao

  1. Actually, the qipao is not a traditional Chinese garment. Until the 1940s, Chinese women, like, men, often wore a full length robe with slits at the bottom to allow walking. Some of theee were in silk for indoor wear. The qipao as we now know it was invented in Shanghai in the 20s and 30s by tailoring the robe in a western way to hug the figure, and with a higher slit up the sides to reveal the legs a la Hollywood mode of the time.

  2. I totally agree that even in China itself qipao is not often met outside of special venues you mentioned.
    But once girl buys the first qipao – she most probably will buy another one. I myself have five qipao in my wardrobe. I think it’s similar to tattoos (once you made the first one, you will make another one – I don’t have by the way 🙂 )
    Anyway, currently I live in Israel and even here I wear my qipao when I go out – spreading the Chinese culture 😉
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..XiaXue – Model for Singapore Girls =-.

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