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Cheongsam is a century old

Written by Daniel Otero

Lady Cheongsam is going on 100

By: Daniel Otero

It was a parade of cheongsams, when these ladies in these classical dresses did a traditional-Chinese dance for the crowds to enjoy here in Guangdong.  It was when, as magical as it felt, the ladies waved their fans and did a twirl for the audience to be held in a trance.  This is the power of this dress almost 100-years later!

The century is almost up and an anniversary is in the wind all over China for the birthday of the cheongsam.  Recognized as one of the oldest symbols of beauty in modern and contemporary China.  It began with the loose fitting ‘changpao’ during the Qing Dynasty three centuries before and later during the 1920s Shanghai, it became the body-hugging dress we know as today.  It was the fashion statement of the early twentieth century and it made a splash in the fad world with its short-tight version around the Shanghai circuit and longer versions along the capital of Beijing.

Notably manifested in gorgeous silk, the cheongsam or as it is known in Chinese-putonghua, ‘qipao’ came to pass and never go out of style.  The colors of red and black are still part of the taste for most Chinese females.  Focusing on the chest embroidery and knots that give it lovely closure from the neckline to the right side.

The dress itself is made ‘fit-to-wear’ and exalt elegantly a female’s anatomy.  Beautiful in every way and to never cheapen what a woman stands for, ultimate elegance in the virtues of Chinese society.

Presently, the popularity of the dress have never waned.  It continues to inspire people to wear it during: ceremonies, for weddings, as company uniforms and gatherings.

About the average cost.  In China it can set a person back 4 to 6,000 RMB ($ 566 to 849 USD) off the rack and in silk form.  There are other concept that go as high as 300 thousand RMB ($42,450) for weddings.  The point is the quality of the cheongsam is an experience if it is ‘perfectly tailored’ that should last literally ‘forever’.  Lower cost of the ‘qipao’, a person can find different cotton variations on Taobao between 300 to 500 RMB ($42.45 to 70.75).  Females will add the high-heel or low sandal to the mix for style.

The important part of this is the timeless honor and tradition of wearing one.  It is just sexy and what better way than to see a female walk, as her hair cascades down the dress and she says, “This is me and its the part in the beauty of my culture!” What a timeless tradition, I might add!

Why do I like the cheongsam?  Well, it evokes the memories of my childhood back in Chinatown, New York City.  When uncle Joe and I would go see a Kung Fu or Bruce Lee movie.  It was during that scene, when all the females gathered and showed the beauty of this great dress.  It was just a pleasure to watch, indeed!

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.