Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year is an important 15 day long festival widely celebrated in China, Malaysia and Singapore. One of the traditions stemming from it, is the practice of buying new clothes.
This act is symbolic as it signifies new beginnings and a good change for the new year. If you are a woman looking to honour this tradition, here are some guidelines for Chinese New Year clothes you can follow.
Red clothes are typically the go to color for Chinese New Year clothing, as the color red symbolizes prosperity and scares away bad spirits that bring about misfortune. If red is not your color, wear bright colors instead. However, stay away from shades like black and white as they symbolize mourning and death.
For the modern woman who prefers something prefers something less traditional, Chinese New Year is the perfect excuse to add new outfits to your wardrobe. These outfits can be worn out on the first day of the Spring Festival and for the rest of the year as well. As tradition dictates, it is important to wear new clothes from head to toe as it symbolises new beginnings.
On the flip side, wearing older and wearing old and tattered clothes is said to bring misfortune, bad luck and might displease your older relatives as well. During this time of the year you’ll see plenty of shopping malls and even stores online give out great deals and discounts for people to get their Spring Festival started!
For women who prefer clothes with a more traditional flavour, here are some Chinese New outfits you can wear.
Traditional Chinese New Year Clothes: Tang Zhuang
The Tang Zhuang is an outfit that has versions for both sexes. This outfit which has a suit-like styling consists of an upturned collar, straight lapels, made with brocade material and utilizes traditional Chinese knots as buttons.
Additionally, Tang Zhuangs are usually made of a thicker material that is tailored to fit the body more seamlessly and are usually worn in the winter time when it is too cold wear a Qipao. They also feature intricate embroidery and symbols and can be very expensive depending on the material and complexity of the design.
Traditional Chinese New Year Clothes: Qi Pao/Cheongsam
The Qi Pao or the Cheongsam both refer to a one piece or two piece dress that originates from China. This dress is one of the more popular Chinese traditional outfits with its origin tracing back to the Qing Dynasty. Back then, the Qi Pao/Cheongsam was far more conservative as it was baggy, had straight and loose cuts and covered most of the woman’s body.
In contrast, the modern Qi Pao/Cheongsam we see today popularised by Shanghai socialites in the 1920s is a lot more stylish and tight fitting with its intricate designs and higher cuts.
This dress has details like short sleeves and length up till the knees with slits on both sides. This clothing can cost from RM 50 up to RM 300 depending on the material and embroidery patterns used for the Qi Pao.
Traditional Chinese New Year Clothes: Hanfu
A lesser seen outfit is the Hanfu, which translates to “Clothing of the Han”. Predating the Qi Pao/Cheong Sam, the Hanfu was the definitive traditional outfit during the Han Dynasty and was popular up until the Qing Dynasty. The Hanfu itself is not a dress. Instead, it is a two piece outfit consisting of a skirt and shirt.
Moreover, depending on the era, the Hanfu can look very different. For example, the Tang Dynasty Hanfu bears a resemblance to the Japanese Kimono whereas the Ming Dynasty’s design looks similar to Korea’s Hanbook. Today, the modern Hanfu looks different as well with its short skirts and modern sensibilities.
In the past, women who wore these traditional outfits would have to pair it with elaborate but somewhat impractical headdress. Fortunately, this has gone out of fashion. Instead, you can pair your outfit with accessories that are more practical.
For example, you can a pendant to the waistband to the Hanfu making it a perfect fit. If you’re feeling extra festive, bring a Chinese fan that will serve you well in Singapore’s and Malaysia’s heat.
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