How to Wear a Cheongsam

by Jess Kroll

You may wear cheongsam dresses long or short, depending on the occasion and your body type.

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Originating in Shanghai in the 1920s, the cheongsam is actually an updated version of the loose-fitting qi­pao, a traditional dress worn during the Qing Dynasty and dating as far back as the 17th century. Unlike its predecessor, the cheongsam is intended as a body-hugging dress designed to be sleek and flattering to the female body. The dress itself is quite simple but made elegant by its material, pattern and feminine design. Although further variations on the dress include one-sleeve and sleeveless varieties, the cheongsam typically has buttons or ribbons beginning at the neck and moving down the right side.

Step 1

Have a cheongsam fitted specifically for the wearer. No two women are built the same and since the cheongsam is meant to be form fitting, it is important that the dress be cut to fit and flatter the individual woman's frame. Dresses can be made long or short, with high necks or low, with long sleeves or none, depending on the particular shape and appearance of the body.

Step 2

Place the dress over the shoulders, as though putting on a jacket. Begin with placing the right arm through the right sleeve. Remember to keep the open side facing outward.

Step 3

Bring the dress around from behind and place the left arm through the left sleeve.

Step 4

Fasten the button or the tie at the neck. Once this is in place, position the rest of the dress so that it is in line.

Step 5

Tie or button the bottom of the dress, typically at the hip or waist. Adjust the dress as needed.

Step 6

Secure the rest of the buttons or ribbons along the right side. With the top and bottom fastened, you can bring the rest of the dress together. Turn and maneuver the dress so that it is snug to the body.

Photo Credits

  • Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Jess Kroll has been writing since 2005. He has contributed to "Hawaii Independent," "Honolulu Weekly" and "News Drops," as well as numerous websites. His prose, poetry and essays have been published in numerous journals and literary magazines. Kroll holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing from the University of San Francisco.