What Do Chinese Women Wear?

Asian young women play chess image by huaxiadragon from Fotolia.com

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.

Traditional Designs

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.

Modern Dress

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.