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The Qipao

The origins of this Chinese dress aren't what you think

05·17·2010

The Qipao

The origins of this Chinese dress aren't what you think

05·17·2010

Contrary to popular assumption, the qipao, worn by shapely and elegant starlets of the Golden Era, was NOT born in those Shanghai days of glamour and riches. Rather, the stylish dress was originally introduced in the Qing Dynasty in 1636, when it was a loose-fitting frock that hung straight on the body like a sack. It took another 300 years for the tailoring of the qipao to evolve to the style we know today. The modern, high-society version was created in Shanghai, after the demise of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Western fashion was a recent import, and female students, embracing the imported fashion as much as the feminism and politics, started to tailor their qipaos tighter. This city remains one of the best places in the world to get one tailor-made.