Silk cheongsam dress: 5 Chinese Elements That Make A Qipao (Cheongsam) Dress – East Meets Dress

5 Chinese Elements That Make A Qipao (Cheongsam) Dress – East Meets Dress

You know you want to wear a modern qipao for your wedding or tea ceremony, but what actually makes a dress a qipao (cheongsam)? These 5 key parts of a qipao will hopefully inspire you to create something new that honors your heritage while also staying true to your style.

Don’t be afraid to pick and choose which elements you want in your own dress! That’s the fun of being Asian-American. 🙂 

1: Material of the qipao

Qipaos can be made of many different materials, but the traditional ones are typically made of silk fabric decorated with embroidery on top. Often, brides will select embroidery that features a phoenix and/or dragon for their wedding qipao. In Chinese culture, the dragon and phoenix together symbolize good luck and a harmonious marriage.

Brocade Qipao

Lace Qipao

Silk Qipao

2: Color of the qipao

Chinese wedding dress colors matter. While there is no one color specifically associated with qipaos, for Chinese weddings, red is the way to go.

Red in Chinese culture symbolizes everything you could ever want – good luck, happiness, and joy. That’s why the envelopes you get for Chinese New Year are also red. Brides, therefore, also typically choose red for their Chinese wedding dress for good fortune.

One great way to add some additional color to your modern qipao is to use a different color for the trim around the collar, sleeves, and pankou knots (frog buttons). Here is an example of a red qipao with gold trim.

You can also incorporate a different color accent or florals into your cheongsam pattern fabric. Gold, white, blue, purple, and pink are all popular secondary qipao colors.

3: Mandarin collar

The most iconic part of any qipao. The mandarin collar was popularized after the Manchurians overthrew China’s current ruling dynasty to form the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century. The collar was one of the traditional features of the Manchu gowns.

It is an unfolded, upright collar that goes around the neck and typically is two to five centimeters in height. For comfort, most are around 3-4cm.

4: Pankou Knots

Pankou is the Chinese name for the traditional knotted buttons or frog buttons used on qipaos. They are also often called frog fasteners. Traditionally, they come in various animal and floral designs and are made of silk or satin wrapped around a stiffening material such as copper to help hold its shape.

With pankou knots, you can go as ornate as you want!

The simplest version is the straight pankou knots. They involve a simple knotted button with a loop fastener.

On the other side of the spectrum, you can go with more intricate and complex floral pankou knots for your qipao.

A popular favorite for Chinese wedding qipaos is to go with the phoenix tail pankou knots, as the phoenix traditionally represents the bride and is a popular Chinese wedding symbol.

5: Diagonal Top

The top front part of a qipao traditionally includes a diagonally shaped chest area, enclosed by a series of pankou knots.

The diagonal typically starts from the base of the collar in the center to just underneath the right armpit. There are many variations to this front however; some are straight diagonals, others are double-sided diagonals, and some even go all the way down to the waist.


Nowadays, the qipao has evolved into an iconic piece of fashion that’s part of Chinese culture. While there are specific elements of a dress that make it a qipao dress, you now have many options for how you can customize your cheongsam to fit your modern aesthetics. 

For more ideas and ways that you can customize your qipao, check out our post here about 30 gorgeous qipao details you can add to your Chinese wedding dress. 

Let us know what elements you will be including in your Chinese wedding dress!


Want to consult with an expert stylist?

Take our Style Quiz to get our personal cheongsam recommendations based on your preferences.


In the mood for more?

– See how our bride rocked her white wedding cheongsam.

– Check out 50 Of The Most Beautiful Modern Cheongsams Designs

– Shop our collection of modern wedding qipaos.

Dresses & Qipaos

In its most widely known form, the modern qipao dress is a form-fitting piece with a mandarin collar and often with frog buttons and side slits. Shanghai Tang’s take on the modern qipao combines the masterful tailoring and intricate elements of the traditional qipao with a modern twist, such as contemporary materials, elevated details and modernised silhouettes. Our qipao dress lengths range from the more traditional long qipao dresses, ankle-length qipao gowns and knee-length qipaos to more modern mini qipaos cut at an ultra-modern cheeky mid-thigh length. Showcasing stunning floral prints inspired by Chinese culture, our form-fitting modern cheongsams are crafted from fabrics that are as comfortable as they are flattering.

Think qipaos a tad too dressy? Contrary to common perception, Chinese cheongsams, especially as a modern Chinese dress style, can easily be dressed up and dressed down and Shanghai Tang’s iconic qipao designs are here to prove it. Besides a range of gorgeous, occasion-ready cheongsam dresses, including Shanghai Tang’s most revered silk qipaos, jacquard qipaos and stretch cotton qipaos that are perfect for Chinese New Year and festive events, there is also a variety of casual qipao options. Consider the stretch mini qipao made from a travel-friendly poly fabric that can be packed in your luggage and emerge virtually wrinkly-free; an A-line qipao that echoes a sweet babydoll silhouette; or our signature modern qipao knitted from a blend of mulberry silk and cotton, thoughtfully combining traditional cheongsam elements with the modern comfort of knitwear. These smart yet casual qipaos are a great qipao prom dress option as they can be dressed up with pumps and strappy sandals for the evening; swap for a pair of combat boots and the qipao will look modern and chic for the daytime. There’s an iconic Shanghai Tang qipao dress for every occasion.

For those seeking qipao-inspired variations other than a full cheongsam dress, Shanghai Tang has designed separates including our best-selling qipao blouse made from a comfortable and stretchy knit fabric. This modern cheongsam blouse is embellished with gemstone bead buttons for a bejewelled touch.

Besides Chinese qipao dresses, Shanghai Tang also offers an enticing range qipao-inspired modern Chinese dresses that combine traditional qipao elements such as the mandarin collar with novelty fabrics and cuts. From the Shanghai Tang dress collection, discover stylish designs such as fit-and-flare skater dresses with a silk mandarin collar, biker-inspired zipped mini cheongsam, and Chinese collar dresses that mix different fabric panelling.

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How To Care For Your CheongSam / QiPao

The Lunar New Year is approaching.

Do you enjoy wearing the traditional Chinese dress during such festive period? Or does your custom require you to dress up in the traditional dress, aka the Qipao or the Cheongsam? 

It can be a relatively expensive investment to own a piece of Qipao or Cheongsam.

Most of the time, the Cheongsams (or Qipaos) look and fit better when they fit your body shape nicely. This is why most Cheongsams are often tailor-made instead of being bought off the shelves.

Additionally, a good quality Cheongsam is usually made from better quality fabric such as silk. Added to this, an exquisite piece of Qipao is usually adorned with delicate hand-sewn embroidery, not forgetting the sequins that come along with it. 

All these add the cost of owning a good piece of Qipao.

As such, it is important to take good care of your Cheongsam or Qipao, especially if you want to store them for a long time.

You might wear them once in a lifetime, but it is still worth preserving the value and quality of the dress in its prime condition. You may never know if it might come back into fashion someday. 

So, how to care for your Qipao / Cheongsam 

The nature of the fabric, the embroidery work and the embellishments that go into the making of the Cheongsam do not allow room for roughness. Hence, it is definitely not recommended to machine wash your Cheongsams. They won’t be able to withstand the harsh tumble and spinning of the washing machine and dryer.

You might even end up having the bright colour dull off or frays coming out from the threads that will shorten the life of the dress itself. 

Best to Dry Clean

The silky fabric of the Cheongsam is best handled through dry cleaning.

At the most, the Cheongsam can be hand-washed and let drip dry if you want to wash them at the convenience of your own home. Even then, careful steps must be taken to ensure that the quality of the dress is maintained.

Wringing the water off the dress will leave creases and damage the embellishments.

Avoid hanging them under the sun as this will cause the colour to fade off and weaken the threads.

When ironing the dress, do it with low heat to avoid risk of burning and damaging the fabric.

In terms of stowing, it is better to hang them upright with a padded broad hanger. Folding the dress will often leave creases that are difficult to iron out.

It is easy to take care of an exquisite dress that you love and desire to preserve with the right steps and care.

If you are looking for a good dry cleaner, we are located at 354 Clementi Avenue 2 #01-177 Singapore 120354. We are open 24/7 to suit your convenience, especially with the busy period coming up right before the Chinese New Year.

For any enquiries, feel free to Whatsapp us here +65 8666 3989

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What Is the Dress Code at the New Empress by Boon in SF Chinatown?

On a Friday night around 7 p.m. prime time, a diner stepped into the golden lobby at one of the hottest new restaurants in San Francisco — the recently opened and objectively gorgeous Empress by Boon. According to his partner, who to be fair, says she was parking the car: The diner requested a table for two. The host gave apologies, saying the restaurant was fully committed. The diner asked if they could at least sit at the bar. The host gave apologies again, saying the restaurant has a dress code, and even the bar required a “collared shirt.”

“He definitely didn’t look disheveled,” his partner, who asked to remain anonymous because she works in the hospitality industry, tells Eater. “He had on a nice sweater and dark jeans. Maybe his shoes lacked luster.” Was he a tech worker, some may ask? Why yes, he has successfully founded several startups. But he was not wearing the uniform hoodie and sneakers, he had upgraded to a sweater and slip-ons. “For him that was dressed up! We were just surprised.” The couple carried on to have a cocktail at Mister Jiu’s, where they laughed about it with the bartender.

Per Empress by Boon’s website, the new restaurant does have a dress code: “Business casual dress requested, no shorts or t-shirts please.” But general manager James Minch would like to step in to smooth out any miscommunication about collars. “We apologize for that!” Minch says, who is still training his entirely new staff. “The dress code is very simple. There are very few restrictions.” He says a T-shirt is fine under a sweater or blazer, but the restaurant does draw the line at shorts and has turned a few other parties away. As in this instance, he says none were deeply upset, although a few were mildly surprised.

“I wouldn’t say we’re fine dining, but we are upscale, and we want our guests to feel comfortable dressing up,” Minch says. “Many people come to the Empress for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries.” Empress by Boon only opened a month ago on June 16, but the original Empress of China had a history as a special-occasion restaurant before that.

Patricia Chang

The original Empress of China, which was constructed in 1966 and reigned through 2014, did have a dress code in the past, and for decades many considered it part of the experience at the resplendent banquet hall. “It was part of the air and elegance of the restaurant,” Pearl Tom, a board member of the Empress of China, recalls. “The Empress was probably one of the very first white tablecloth fine-dining Chinese restaurants in San Francisco … It was a place that you got dressed up.” Tom says that her auntie, a renowned opera diva, sang at the grand opening ceremonies, and when she went in for dinner, would have made an entrance in a cheongsam silk gown — with the high collar and the side slit — and a mink stole. In the late sixties and seventies, men would suit up and the waiters wore tuxedos. For many years, jackets and ties were required, although in the last few years before the restaurant closed in 2014, they were so desperate for business, they would seat a party of T-shirt-clad tourists without comment.

These days, dress codes are exceedingly rare in San Francisco. A quick check of even the fanciest fine dining restaurants with three Michelin stars in the Bay Area reveals that many dress codes seem to have gone by the wayside. Benu, Quince, and Manresa make no mention of dress codes on their websites. Atelier Crenn at least answers the FAQ, but in the most relaxed way possible: “Our suggested dress code is casual-elegant, jacket not required. We do however encourage dressing up for this special night.” Even the French Laundry now advises diners, “There is no dress code, please dress comfortably!” Although across various online forums, many diners conclude that they themselves would prefer to dress business casual.

At the end of the day, this is still San Francisco in the year 2021, and tech workers do love their hoodies and sneakers. To be honest, after a long year of sweatsuits at home, it can feel like a considerable effort to even put on one’s best jeans to go out to dinner. And of all the details that San Francisco diners have to plan and consider these days — getting a reservation, whether to do indoors or outdoors, whether to wear a mask, figuring out new menu QR codes, parsing new surcharges on bills — most would never even think to check for a dress code.

“People are just excited to be going out to dinner again … ” Minch says. “They’ve been very excited and understanding.” In other news, the Empress did just refresh its prix-fixe menu, which now includes XLB soup dumplings stuffed with Iberican ham and the much-vaunted crispy mini chicken in curry sauce. Catch a reservation if you can. Just don’t wear shorts.

Patricia Chang

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Free Qipao / Cheongsam / Ladies Chinese Dress Pattern – Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics

Ever since my first post on making the Girls’ version of the Chinese Qipao in January 2014, I have received lots of feedback and seen lots of pictures on social media of the dress.  I have been thinking about making the same pattern for adults for a long time, but was hesitant to do so because the adult’s version is a much more challenging dress. It is a fitting dress that hugs your curve (Note: not the same as tight!) It would be hard to create a standard set of patterns that will achieve the same effect. This is the same reason why most people choose to tailor make their Qipaos, because you simply need it to be made to your size.

So there is this local sewing community group of Facebook that I am a member of, and recently the same topic came up, as all the sewing enthusiasts are getting ready to start sewing for the New Year. I decided to try drafting it for my size and despite my disbelief that I would actually be able to fit into the dress while drafting it, I was pleasantly surprised that it really was not that difficult, and yes I did fit into it. I was also surprised that it actually made me look rather slim, and this debunks the theory that you need to look like a model to look good in a qipao. You just need one that fits you well. Read Part 2 – How to make adjustments to the free patterns here

Some photos from my own testing. Note that this is still an unfinished piece, as I ran out of bias while sewing and I have no red buttons to complete the dress! Hence the front piece is not quite fixed in place. So, emboldened by my personal “success”, I present to you, a set of free Qipao sewing patterns for your personal use. I can only test my own size, and as I’m between a M and L these will be available for download. I used standard measurements from the Winifred Aldrich “metric pattern cutting for women’s wear” as well as a Qipao sloper diagram to draft these patterns, but as I mentioned earlier, that in order to achieve perfect fit, you will need to make some adjustments for your own shape and size. I will be writing up another post about adjusting the standard patterns for your own measurements later on. So watch out for it.

Note that these patterns are free for testing, please leave me your comments below if you find anything missing in the patterns. For fit issues, please refer to the section below on Adjustments for Fit. I will now give you the materials and instructions on making the toile. This post will focus on getting the right size and right fit. Very important! Make a muslin/toile first! This is very important. Especially if you are intending to use a special fabric. Do not cut into it until you are sure your qipao fits you well! I used a cheap $1.40/m cotton for my muslin. Long stitches without backstitching the ends so that I can quickly undo it and make adjustments.

The following describes the Materials and instructions for making a toile.
Once you have perfected the fit, use the toile to work on your nice fabric to make your own Qipao.


At least 1.5 m of muslin/cotton/anything you can cut into without crying if you make a mistake. Preferably a plain light colored fabric that you can easily make markings on.

An invisible zipper that is long enough to extend from your underarm (side of bust) down to the hips.

Bias tape – if you want to practice attaching the bias on the curved edge of the qipao and collar. For beginners you might find it a little challenging to get a smooth flat finish especially when the front bodice curves up to the collar, so it might be good to test it out on the muslin, but for fit purposes it is not neccesary to finish the edge with bias.

How to make

  1. Take proper measurements of your bust, waist and height. Make sure the tape measure is parallel to the ground and around the widest part of your curves. Do not tighten the tape measure when measuring, it must be just resting on your skin. Be truthful to yourself. Nobody will be able to tell the exact measurements, but if you hold your tape measure too tightly around your tummy for example, then the qipao will look tight at the tummy when finished, which makes it look ill-fitting.
  2. Using these measurements, refer to the size chart and select your size.
    Size Bust Waist Hips
    M 88 72 96
    L 96 80 104
  3. Please visit my PDF pattern store – Porcupine Patterns to download the patterns.
  4. If you have downloaded the PDF pattern, you will realize that I have separated the skirt piece from the bodice pieces. The reason for doing this was to use less paper, which not only means saving the environment, but also easier piecing.
    My pattern only uses 16 pieces in a 4×4 grid. Use recycled paper whenever you can since you are going to cut it up anyway. You will need to use the skirt piece for both the front and back pieces. Here’s how. Let’s start with the back pieces.

    The front pattern piece is traced in 3 steps, as follows. Note that the front piece is traced on the right side of the fabric. Note the orientation of the front piece. The curve should be running down the right side of the chest towards the right arm.
    Flip the skirt piece to match the other side seam. 

  5. Seam allowances are NOT included in the pattern. This is to cater for possible pattern adjustments. Do all the pattern adjustments before adding on seam allowances. Follow the diagram below to add on your seam allowances.
  6. Transfer markings to your muslin and cut. Now you are ready to sew!
  7. The first thing you have to do is to sew up the bust darts and the waist darts. Use a long stitch so that you can undo the darts for fine adjustments if needed.
  8. Other than that, the process of sewing up the rest of the Qipao is pretty much the same as the kids version. So you can follow the sew-along / video tutorial series.

However, do note that my way of attaching the collar is not the traditional way of sewing on a collar. It was my one step short-cut way of preventing the dreaded collar-not-matching-neckline nightmare, and also a quick and easy way to hide the raw edges without having the baste the inner collar. So if you are not used to my method, please feel free to use my free patterns and attach the collars in your favourite way. If you are in between sizes, read part 2 here about making adjustments for your own measurements. I will also do another write up about variations of the classic design, adding sleeves, and discuss decorative ways of embellishing the Qipao when I have more time to do so.

Oh and one more thing. If you do make a Qipao using this pattern or the kids version, do post it on Facebook/Instagram with the hashtag #MadeMyOwnQipao to be eligible for a very special giveaway at the end of the year!

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Women’s Long Silk Qipao Chinese Style Qipao Elegant Plus Size 6XL Evening Dresses | Cheongsams |

Product Information

Product characteristics

  • Brand name:
  • Material:
  • Traditional Chinese clothing:
    Chinese womens robes
  • Model number:
  • Fabric texture:
  • size:
    S M L XL XXL 3XL 4XL 5XL 6XL
  • color:
    same as the picture
  • Occasion:
    Formal Party Evening Dress
  • Clothing Length:
    To the ankle
  • Sleeve Length:
  • season:
    summer spring autumn
  • decoration:
    Flower & peacock
  • Style:
    Chinese Vintage Qipao Dress

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90,000 Rustle of Chinese silk.Qipao dress – Fashionable.TV

What is this outlandish name?
Qipao (Chinese ex. ‘‘ ’, Pinyin: qípáo- dress for the banners) is a Chinese dress, or rather a dress-robe with a stand-up collar and a hollow wrapped on one side. In addition, this dress traditionally has a short sleeve. In the English version, the name of the dress sounds like “cheongsam”. Usually, this garment is sewn of silk (sometimes replaced with good quality satin) and decorated with floral ornaments in soft colors.

What is the story about?
A dress of this style was originally worn by the Chinese nobility of the Qing period (1644-1911). its owner, leaving only the head, socks on the feet and fingers available to the eye.

The fall of the Qing dynasty and the continued influence of Western fashion markedly changed the look of the qipao dress – a cut that is narrower and more closed, almost tight-fitting.In other words, it was a sheath dress with an added deep side slit for ease of movement. The sleeves have also narrowed, becoming more varied in length (three-quarter sleeves and shorter sleeves). The length of the dress itself is also varied – from long to short models. From the old version, only the collar remained, which became lower, in addition, the outfit was decorated with an asymmetric fastener.
As the clothing of the upper classes in the 17th century, qipao from the middle of the last century to the present day is a category of uniform in the service sector (stewardesses, personnel of hotels and various salons, school uniforms, women’s clothing for special occasions).

In traditional China, as perhaps everywhere else, clothes expressed a person’s tastes, moods and even philosophical views better than many other household items. Who can wear a qipao dress now? And what else can be added to it?
The dress is not suitable for all women due to the peculiarities of its cut. So, short girls should avoid long dresses, since they visually shorten the silhouette, owners of wide shoulders should give preference to flowing fabrics that “soften” the silhouette, while slender girls should use brocade.A short neck is lengthened by a low collar, a long neck is emphatically high. To highlight beautiful arms, choose dresses with short sleeves, however, long sleeves will look more sophisticated.

Other additions to the dress, be it a hairstyle, accessories, shoes, – should ensure compliance with the overall style. Asymmetric closure on the right side and stand-up collar, being adornments as such, do not provide additional pendants, beads and necklaces. Shoes are exclusively classic style, monochromatic, not high heels.The bag and earrings are also small. As for the hairstyle, hair pulled back in a bun works best, thereby opening the neck and showing a stand-up collar.

Colors and materials.
Qipao is usually sewn from noble materials such as silk, brocade, satin or velor. In our time, there are no special color preferences, but if you want to be more imbued with the spirit of Ancient China, then you should know that there is a certain symbolism. So, in ancient times, the main colors were considered white, black, green, red and yellow.Each of them correlates with the season, element and side of the world.

Why is this Chinese craze?
The 2015 annual exhibition at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was called “China: Through the Looking Glass”. In addition, the exhibition was one of the most popular in the history of the museum. Everyone talks about the importance of cooperation with China and the cultural diversity of this country. Gucci announces the launch of a capsule collection on Chinese New Year 2018, and in general, Alessandro Michele’s previous works influenced by Chinese culture deserve detailed attention.Have you seen the latest collections of Brioni and Kenzo, where all the looks are of the dreamy spirit of the Celestial Empire? And there are more than a dozen such examples.

And finally, list of films about the beauty of Chinese culture for endless inspiration, oriental contemplation and looking at the outfits of the main characters: In the Mood for Love (Faa yeung nin wa), Flowers of War (Jin ling shi san chai), Empire of the Sun (Empire of the Sun), Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji), Mei Lanfang: Forever Enchanted (Mei Lanfang).

SHENG Coco silk satin long Chinese dress Cheongsam evening Tang suit green robe ten buckles Oriental style Qipao female

SHENG Coco silk satin long Chinese dress Cheongsam evening Tang suit green robe ten buckles Oriental style Qipao female category Qipao dresses

In stock

Detailed specifications

sheng coco
Polyester, Spandex
Fabric type:
Semi-silk fabric with weft rib
Traditional Chinese clothing:
Chinese women’s dressing gowns

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