Thursday, 24 October 2013

Ways to wear a qipao

Originally wide and baggy, the modern 旗袍 (qípáo) as we know it originated in Shanghai during the twenties. It's the most recognisable style of Chinese clothing, with its form-fitting body, high Mandarin collar and leg slits.

If you've ever seen someone wearing one, it was probably at some formal occasion, worn with skin-coloured tights and heels. Provided you have the hourglass for it, a qipao really does look stunning. I saw an employee at a swanky restaurant in China who wore a floor-length qipao as her uniform, and she looked divine. I don't own one though. How can my British friends have qipaos and I don't??

What I would really love is a short linen qipao for everyday wear, because let's face it, no one wears a qipao casually in the West. Why not? It's just a sheath dress with a high collar and, as long as it's not silk or velvet, it is utterly wearable, just as a dress, or, with some clever layering, even as a top or a skirt.

as a dress

as a skirt

as a top

Tapestry fabrics go really well with a linen dress, and motifs like butterflies and fans match the qipao thematically without being costumey. Jade (玉) is a traditional Chinese material for jewellery. In my house, hidden away in cupboards, there are quite a lot of jade things, like Buddha necklaces and perfectly circular bangles.

Whether you are Asian, African or European, maybe look into traditional dress. There will always be something for you to reinvent.


  1. great combo!


  2. I've always loved the look of qipaos so I love what you did here making them more casual. Great idea!


Thank you ♥

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