Over the years, the qipao has changed drastically in style. What was once a loose-fitting, sack-like garment is now a flattering, stylish dress.
After the Qing Dynasty fell in the early 1900’s, women sought to modernize the style of the qipao. The next rendition took the form of a tight-fitting, long dress with a high neck and a high cut. Shanghai socialites popularized this style of the qipao and it allowed the beauty of the female body to be shown off. The high slit accentuated and elongated the legs.
As the western style changed, so did the qipao. It was made shorter, came in a variety of patterns and materials, and also was made sleeveless. In the 1950’s, working Chinese women made the qipao more practical. It was made out of wool or twill and was paired with a matching jacket. The qipao experienced a brief popularity explosion in the West when The World of Suzie Wong was released in the theaters.
Today, the qipao continues to represent female beauty as it has for decades. Women should pay attention to every detail when wearing a qipao. In China, the importance is not placed only on the dress, but to the hair, shoes, socks, and accessories as well. Everything should tie together to form a coordinated and designed package. The side slits are meant to provide brief glimpses of slender legs, while the high collar softens and elongates the neck. Qipaos are meant to project a woman’s modesty and beauty. Worn by women in the east and west, qipaos have proven that they are an elegant and traditional Chinese custom.