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How to Buy Traditional Chinese Clothes in China

Looking for the right gift to bring back from your adventure in China? Why not something to wear? Traditional Chinese clothing is a great way to bring a piece of the East back home with you to the West.

Lovely Ladies' Qipao

Surely you have seen the traditional Chinese dresses, called qipao, with the high collar and form-fitting bodice in movies. This dress has become a symbol of Chinese fashion and has been long cherished for its simple elegance.

Often it is a silk dress but can be made using other types of fabric to fit the occasion. Make a statement — and an elegant one at that — at your next party with this Manchu style dress.

Whether designing your own or choosing which qipao to buy, there are many options of different styles. The length of the skirt, design of the collar, and material are key ways a qipao varies based on the occasion.

Not sure how to pick one out on your own? Read about tips for designing a qipao as well as where in Beijing to buy one, or visit one of the many tailors that will happily help you design one.

Hanfu for All

Another very prominent style in Chinese history is the Hanfu, made for both men and women. It gets its name from the Han dynasty, during which the style came about. The traditional garment has a cross collar and extends to the knees, usually extending over trousers or a skirt (yes, even for the men). Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the hanfu is the billowy sleeves, trimmed with silk cuffs. Along with this came traditional headgear — a hat for men and headpiece for ladies.

The hanfu changed with time, as nearly all fashions do. The shenyi rose to prominence beginning in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. While it looked similar to the original hanfu, the tunic and accompanying skirt were sewn together as one garment. Following the shenyi was the changpao, a one-piece garment that came to the ankles.

The best bet for choosing and tailoring a traditional hanfu garment is to find a tailor who speaks English, like the Yaxiu Clothing Market in Beijing or Huaihai Road Market in Shanghai.

Chic, Sleek Silk Robes

A simpler, easier souvenir idea is the classic silk Chinese robe. Simple, comfortable, and easy to find, this is a great item to bring back to friends, as sizing is far less precise than buying a qipao. These can be found at most clothing markets, but be sure to bargain the price, as vendors will often quote outrageously high prices. At the time of publication of this article, a skilled bargainer could buy a silk robe for as little as 30–50 RMB (3.50–8.00 USD).

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