What Kind of Clothing Do the Chinese Wear?

Written by river lin
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What Kind of Clothing Do the Chinese Wear?
The ancient Chinese dragon symbol can be incorporated into modern fabrics. (Chinese fashion image by Liu Xiang from Fotolia.com)

The Chinese culture has a long history in artistic and sophisticated fashions. Archeological finds indicate that decorative clothing and particular attention to colours of clothes were in vogue centuries ago. Symbolic meaning, fabrics and fabric designs and formality of the occasion determined Chinese clothing long ago. These same factors continue to influence what the Chinese wear today. Today's Chinese people combine traditional styles and colours with modern ideas. Western fashion ideas also influence what the Chinese wear.


Dark colours are favoured as base or background colours, with brighter and lighter colours used as accents and to accessorise. Certain colours are favoured over others at different times of the year. Green is the favourite colour for spring, red for summer, white for the fall and black in winter.


Today's Chinese clothing carries on the tradition of incorporating symbolism into the fashion design of both fabrics and individual garments. The "good luck" character is a common symbol found on everything from T-shirts to formal gowns. Images of dragons, masks, deities and even characters from classic operas are also common symbols. These symbols may be attached as appliqués, painted or embroidered onto the fabric or woven into the fabric. Metallic threads help define these Chinese symbols by accenting or outlining them.


Long ago, the Chinese used shells, beads, and metal ornaments to decorate their clothing. This trend continues to be a favoured characteristic of Chinese clothing. Ornamentation is especially used as borders, over the shoulders, across the bodice and on pockets and seams.

Modern Adaptations

Distinctive designs once reserved only for Chinese royalty are now being mass produced for the average Chinese to enjoy. Dragons and clouds that were once unique to royal robes are now reproduced in updated versions made possible by advancements in technology and the interpretations of young artists. Skirts, blouses, jackets and dresses are all being made with such designs. In addition to modern versions of old designs in their fabrics, Chinese also wear modern adaptations to traditional styles in their garments. For example, the traditional Chinese dress with deep slits along the legs can now be seen with a lower neckline, sleeveless and shorter in length.

Western Influence

China is not immune to the impact of Western influence on their fashions. Business suits, A-line skirts, sweaters and jackets are common attire within the Chinese workforce. Chinese students wear blue jeans, T-shirts and "hoodies." However, the Chinese make these garments unique by incorporating traditional Chinese elements.

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