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Chinese People: Men's and Women's Clothing

Kashmira Lad
The Chinese have a curious and interesting mix of fashion ideas. In this story, we take a look at some ancient and modern trends in Chinese clothing.
The key fashion trends in modern China incorporate a lot of changes compared to the traditional clothing worn by the Chinese people. Today, men and women's clothing have seen a major metamorphosis in terms of the design patterns and the textures used. With influences from all over the world, the current styles incorporate a lot from the modern palette.
The ancient Chinese clothing saw the 'dress' system being brought into the social circuit by the Xia and the Shang dynasties. For the Chinese people, the clothing meant not only an expression of elegance, but also an internal symbolism.
Prior to this, the ancient Stone Age saw the invention of the bone needle, which was then used to sew winter dresses (leaves and animal skin). The archaeological artifacts unearthed, have produced items such as stone beads and shells that have holes bored into them, which proves the existence of sewing in the ancient Chinese civilization.
The sophistication of the Shang dynasty was further seen in the remains of certain articles that reflected the refinement of clothing in that era.
It was during the Sui and the Tang dynasties that the economy of China flourished. This also brought about new ideas and thoughts, and one saw a lot of changes in the fashion scenario along with a major influence by the culture of middle Asia.
The traditional Chinese clothing is the ch'ang-p'ao (One piece garment that extends from the shoulders to the heels), pien-fu (Two-piece ceremonial garment) and Shen-I (Combines the first two). The shen-i consists of a tunic with a skirt or trousers, which are sewed together.
Traditional Chinese clothing is known for its varied design. The Chinese men and women always wore clothes that were plain and structured. Wide sleeves and loose flowing fabrics characterized these clothing. 
Also, one saw a lot of add-ons such as detailed embroidery, elaborate sashes, bands that were used as decoration and the use of silk. This later became a very exclusive feature of their clothing.
One also saw loads of geometrical patterns being adopted along with the patterns of plants and animals being infused into the designs. Till the Shang and the Zhou dynasties, the patterns were pretty primitive, however, post this era, a neater look and more balanced designs and compositions was apparent.
The plant and the animal design forms on the garments, took a more realistic turn during the Ming and the Qing dynasties. The Chinese clothing saw a major use of darker colors in the early days. However, the women generally wore lighter colors at home.
They had a strong belief in the fact that certain colors are associated with specific seasons: for example, white was thought to represent the autumn season. Today, the traditional Chinese dress is back in vogue.
Fashion designers are on the lookout for new fashion ideas to amalgamate ancient clothing with the modern ones, in order to churn out some of the most versatile designs. A lot of stores today display fashions which incorporate religious motifs, and patterns that are based on ancient characters.
The men are now seen adorning the traditional Chinese gown, while women are often seen wearing the ch'i-p'ao, which is a modern version of the designs that were prevalent in the Ching dynasty. This garment has stand-up collars, wide sleeves, and decorative borders which were used in the late Qing period.
Traditional Chinese designs have also gained impetus today, with traditional styled garments flooding the market. Most of them have been modified under the influence of Western clothing, with the traditional clothing constituting the basic design.