Hairstyles for Traditional Chinese Dress

Written by contributing writer
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Long ago, when a Chinese girl married, her parents were thought to be giving away all parts of her body, including her hair—and thus didn’t have the right cut it. Although this belief is no longer in practice, brides still wear Chinese traditional female costumes such as the cheongsam--also known as the Mandarin dress--for weddings and special occasions, and have hair styles to match. Traditionally, Chinese brides with long hair wear it up and away from the face.

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Low Tight Bun

A low, tight bun hairstyle is the most common hairstyle to accompany a cheongsam, and is easy to create. To achieve this look, brush the hair back low at the back of the head into a sleek ponytail and secure it with a hair tie. Wind the hair into a bun while securing it in place with hair clips. To keep the look neat, apply hairspray. A low, tight bun is a basic and generic hairstyle that ideally complements dresses with tighter fits and slimmer silhouettes such as the cheongsam. This formal bun hairstyle also goes well with other dress cuts and styles such as off-the-shoulder and strapless dresses.

Braided Updo

Decorated chopsticks or hair sticks that measure six inches or more best accentuate the braided updo. To create this distinctive look, make two simple braids halfway toward the back of the head and secure the ends with hair ties that are as close together as possible. Horizontally slide one hair stick or chopstick through the two loose braids. From the ends, take the two braids and cross them under the stick while bringing each of the braids under the side of the stick and then up toward the top of the head. Cross over the two braids once again, bringing any of the excess length under the stick. With a second hair stick, push it through the outer top braid diagonally and weave it from the centre of the head toward the bottom outer braid. Finally, tuck the ends beneath with hair clips.

Updo With Accessories

Not only are the fabrics of cheongsams elegant and made from the finest silks and delicate embroidery, but the hair styles were just as intricate and special. Traditionally, Chinese hairstyles were styled to cover a woman’s temples and frame her face. Sometimes her long hair was coiled into a high bun on top of her head. These buns were given such names as “gazing-gods bun,” “cloud bun” and “double handing-down bun.” Some hairstyles were braided and then hung down on the shoulders, while others were puffy like clouds and had delicate bands. People with less money used paper decorations for hair accessories. Other accessories included hair combs and pins made from jewels such as jade, pearl and sometimes gold. Modern versions of these accessories can vary from hair accessories made with Swarovski crystals, silk flowers or chopsticks or hair sticks in a variety of different colours.

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