Traditional Chinese Dress for Your Wedding: Cheongsam

Did you know that the Cheongsam (长衫) or Qipao (旗袍) was once the day-to-day attire of both men and women in the Qing Dynasty? The earliest Cheongsam was long and steep with a profusion of embellishments that emphasised the beauty of the dress rather than the wearer. Women were forbidden from expressing their ideas and thoughts in the male-dominated patriarchy of those olden days. Similarly, the garment was also made long and loose to conceal the female body.

The fall of the last Chinese emperor and the rise of western influence has led to a renaissance of the venerable Cheongsam.  Young and educated women began wearing the ‘refined’ Cheongsam as a bold statement to their rising prominence in modern Chinese society. Made popular by Shanghai celebrities in the 20’s, the modern Cheongsam has since gained recognition in the international arena of high fashion. The Shanghai-style Cheongsam features a form-fitting dress with high collar and slits, and a sleek cut that accentuates the slender curves of Chinese women. Critics say the Cheongsam is elegant and gentle, mirroring the temperament of Chinese women – this is certainly something that this writer can quite happily agree with!

The convergence of fashion from the East and West has led to widespread acceptance of the Cheongsam in modern society. The Cheongsam is a highly visible aspect of Chinese weddings, which still feature many aspects of traditional culture. In addition to a western-style white wedding dress, many Chinese brides opt for a Cheongsam during the tea ceremony and the traditional ying bin (迎宾) which is the welcoming of guests at the wedding reception. Wedding day Cheongsams  are bright and delightful, adorned with intricate embellishments that symbolise happiness and prosperity.

The pictures below feature Chiffon & Lace brides in their flattering, custom designed, made-to-measure Cheongsam.

Wedding Dress lime green Cheongsam with sheer lace back

An ankle length, sleeveless, bright golden green Shantung silk Cheongsam with gold trimming and sheer, lacy, low back. The delicate lace appliques were carefully arranged to emphasise the arch of the back. High slits on both sides of the dress subtlety show off the bride’s slender legs and transforms her into a classical oriental beauty.

Wedding Dress, two tones short Cheongsam

Wedding Dress Cheongsam embroidery

A halter top, bare back, two-tone Shantung silk Cheongsam with hand-sewn flower embroidery appliques. The mix and match of two contrasting colors (pearl white and dark turquoise), visually emphasises the curve of the bride. The pink trim complements the mixture of white, pink and turquoise flower appliques, which adds a delicate touch to this otherwise short and sassy Cheongsam. The best part about a short Cheongsam is its lightness – casual enough to be worn during less formal occasions such as a night in town.

An updo or half-updo hairstyle goes well with the high-collar of the Cheongsam. The accessories are usually kept to a minimum to complement the elaborate embellishments on the Cheongsam. In fact, a matching pair high-heels is the most important piece of accessory to go with a Cheongsam. Besides enhancing the wearer’s slender look, the shorter length of the Cheongsam (above the ankles) draws attention to her heels. It is important to be meticulous, right down to the smallest details – even the bride’s  feet :)

The classy oriental dress will certainly be one of the many highlights on your wedding day!

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