The cheongsam has its origin in the Manchu female’s costumes in the Qing Dynasty and has been regarded as the model of Chinese traditional habilatory culture. As for the reason, the cheongsam not only accords with the characteristic of harmony within Chinese culture in terms of the style, but also shows rich oriental idiosyncrasy with regard to ornamental techniques. In addition, the cheongsam will give more prominence to a lady’s slender figure, and also help to heighten the center of gravity of human bodies together with high-heel shoes, so that civility, elegance and dignity will be fully displayed. Therefore, the cheongsam developed its own trend, which has been long lasting.
As for the traditional clothes of Chinese men, the long gown and mandarin jacket are typical. Both of them have round necks and narrow sleeves. The mandarin jacket can be seen as a kind of Chinese-style jacket with buttons down the front, mostly with sleeves like a horse’s hoof. However, the front of long gowns, with buttons on the right, is basically large. There is also a type of garment combining the long gown and the mandarin jacket, and they will only have the under-half part, buttoning in the under lap of the mandarin jacket. The long gown and mandarin jacket will give the impression of comfortableness and ease as well as sobriety.
In 2001, the presidents struck a pose on the stage in Chinese style costumes at the APEC Forum, and thus a trend of wearing Chinese style costumes came into being. The very reason why clothing with Chinese style has been labeled as Chinese -style costumes is that the place where overseas Chinese reside in has been called “Chinese town” and consequently the costumes which the Chinese wear are called Chinese style costumes. Current Chinese-style costumes were transformed from the mandarin jacket of the Qing Dynasty, and there are four major characteristics in terms of design. First, Chinese-style costumes have a stand-up collar and buttons in very middle of the front of the jacket; second, there is no seam between sleeves and jacket; third, the costumes are jackets with buttons down the front or in diagonal way; last, they have right-angled buttons. In addition, with regard to the outside material, Chinese costumes are mostly made with silk.
Moreover, the feature of clothing varies with areas and nationalities. For instance, the bellyband is the traditional close-fitting costume in Central China and north of Shanxi. The bellyband is just like the front of vest with a lace tying to the neck and it an prevent children from catching a cold. The children’s wearing of bellyband will also show their naivety. Most bellybands will be embroidered with the pattern of a tiger head and the “Five Poisons”, which contain a parents’ nice expectation of wishing their children health. To take the costumes of the Yi Nationality as another example, they are rather distinctive with three types of women’s had wears including decorating brocade round the head and a cap with an embroidered case. Especially in the area of Honghe, women’s head wears are full of beautiful colors and styles. They prefer silver ornaments to show their riches and beauty. However, the manteaux can be regarded as the distinctive costumes for all people of the Yi Nationality, which are mostly made of fur, delaine, hemp and straw and whose colors are mainly cyan and blue.
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