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What clothing do Chinese people wear?

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Quick Answer

In everyday life, the Chinese wear modern clothes that are similar to any other culture throughout the globe, such as jeans and blouses, but still don traditional garb for certain festivals and religious ceremonies. The traditional costume depends on the area of China. For example, the people of Mongolia and Tu wear distinct costumes.

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Full Answer

Like the apparel of many countries, typical Chinese clothing is subject to changing fashion trends. It has become increasingly common to find the nationalist blending of traditional and modern motifs and styles, featuring, for instance, iconic images of lions, dragons and lightning. Casual wear includes jeans and T-shirts, usually tending toward a bright color palette, while older Chinese people are expected to dress more conservatively or at least in accordance with their age.

Historically, dress has been crucial to Chinese culture for over 3,000 years, with each dynasty producing distinct styles of garment. Among the most unique were those of the Tang dynasty, culturally the richest era of ancient Chinese history. Designers placed emphasis on elegance and grace, as well as liberation, with short-sleeved shirts, flowing skirts, shawls and low-cut gowns. Depending on their rank, men would wear adornments of swords and jade, gold or silver belts, whereas ordinary civilians were only permitted to wear a bronze or iron knife in addition to their clothing.

There are traditionally three central colors in Chinese culture, each with its own symbolic associations, including red, which is associated with good fortune and joy; black, which represents bad fortune and suffering; and white, which represents balance, moderation and honesty.

Nonetheless, symbolic associations such as these are widely ignored in modern Chinese clothing choices. Black, in particular, has become popular among young people.

Popular traditional costumes in China include Han Fu clothing, the Chinese suit or Tang Zhuang and the Cheongsam. Han Fu clothing has a long gown with a cross collar. This outfit has a sash in place of buttons. It represents Han culture during the reign of the Yellow Emperor.

The Chinese suit, or Tang Zhuang, requires a male jacket in the style of the Qing Dynasty as well as coiled buttons. This suit is designed after Chinese styles, but is tailored in the Western style. The Cheongsam is an outfit for women, with a straight collar and coiled buttons on either side of the dress. The dress is usually constructed of linen, cotton and silk and, as of 2014, is the most popular traditional Chinese costume for women. For men, there is also the tunic suit, which was more popular during the 1940s through 1980s. However, it is still worn by some Chinese officials.

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