Traditional Chinese dress is ornate, brightly colored and beautiful. Designed to convey elegance, but also to communicate through symbolism, the dress of Chinese women is rooted in a long history.
The pien-fu consists of a tunic, usually silk or satin, extending to the knees. Under the tunic, women wear billowing pants or a long skirt. The ch'ang-p'ao is a long, loose fitting, one piece garment. Historically, the most popular traditional garment is the shen-i which is a tunic and skirt or pants sewn together.
Because of the simplicity of traditional dress, color and ornamentation are important to the overall design and elegance of a garment. Ornamentation can include embroidered edging, intricate patterns, and draped silks. Color is steeped in symbolism, white, for example, represents autumn and green represents spring.
Today, women often wear the ch'i-p'ao, a long, one piece dress, wrapped and fastened under the arm. The dress can be tight fitting or loose and made from many different fabrics.