Photography : Portraiture
Chinese New Year Fashion 101
Kakapo Portraiture by Fen
Dec 2020

While we’re still ringing in the New Year, let’s not forget that there’s another highly anticipated event that’s also just around the corner – That time of the year when you see the color red and gold everywhere you go, when you hear the echoing sounds of gongs for the “lions” to dance to, that time of the year when little children get excited over pieces of little red envelopes. Yes, it’s Chinese New Year! If you celebrate Chinese New Year, you’ll know that these traditions have lived on for many generations, despite the ever-changing trends and technologies. 


How do traditions like the ones we find during Chinese New Year stay alive for many generations, you ask? The answer is fairly simple – they stay relevant. People always find a way to make these traditions more modern, without disrespecting what has been passed down to them from the elders. We see this in fashion, in the way that people dress for Chinese New Year. Traditionally, cheongsam or qipao is high-necked and close-fitting. Nowadays, people love to dress themselves up in modern cheongsam or qipao pieces. Some of them have puffy sleeves, pleats, and sometimes, it’s not even a dress. It can also be a flowy and sleeveless qipao top with elegant culotte bottoms. 


Since honor is a huge part of the Chinese tradition, we must make sure that we are dressed appropriately and follow all the rules, so that we don’t dishonor or offend anyone… but we still want to look fabulous and up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, don’t we? How do we find that balance? Well, here are some do’s and don’ts for styling yourself up for Chinese New Year:


 #1 Do go shopping for Chinese New Year!

This rule is so important, it might as well be written! Make sure you dress up in new clothes, because new clothes symbolize a new start on New Year’s day.


#2: Do wear cheongsam/qipao.

The cheongsam or qipao was popularized by socialites in 1920s Shanghai. Oh, how glamorous it must have been to wear those shiny garments back then! Nowadays, the cheongsam is more modernized to conform to the latest trends, so that people like us can wear it.


#3: Don’t wear damaged clothes… or clothes that are damaged “on purpose”.

Yes, that includes ripped jeans. Damaged clothes are believed to attract bad luck. This takes us back to the first point, you should go shopping for new clothes to avoid attracting bad luck on New Year’s Day!


#4: Don’t do your laundry

Great news! You don’t have to do your laundry during Chinese New Year. In fact, you really shouldn’t, because it is believed to be the Water God’s birthday, so using water to wash your clothes during the first two days of Christmas would mean offending the Water God. 


#5: Do pay attention to the colors you’re wearing!

Remember that colors have meaning in the Chinese tradition, so be careful with the colors you choose to wear during Chinese New Year!


Ready to go Chinese New Year dress-hunting? It’s never too early to start looking for one!





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