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Garments in Modern Times

Since the 1911 Revolution, the garments have changed dramatically. Perhaps the most distictive feature is the cutting off of the long plait, and the elimination of the dresses and the official cap buttons of Qing dynasty style. But chi-pao (cheongsam) still handed down. The typical new fashioned female clothing is blue short gown, especially favored by schoolgirls.           

Changes of Women's Costume
Among the changes of costume, the women's costume has changed the greatest. Some still preserved the Qing Dynasty (1644-1840) style of trousers and clothes with curving front, some simulated the western-style, wearing a jacket and a skirt, while most schoolgirls wore black silk skirts and short jackets with a large front, a round lower rim and short sleeves to elbow and for social women, the commonest garments were mainly cheongsam.

The styles of new garments can be classified into two types: one was the long Chi-paos made of colouful cloth, typically with laces or patterns added to the hems, with a small waistcoat and silk scarves covered with the jacket, and the other one is the upper garment separated with the lower skirt.

In the 1920s, people began to wear Chi-pao whose style was to a large extent, the same as that of the Qizhuang garments (clothing of Manchu) in the Qing Dynasty. Later, the cuff was narrowed gradually, and the embroidered hem was not as broad as the previous one. By the end of the 1920s, dressing style was greatly influnced by that of Europe and America, making the pattern of chi-pao changed dramatically. By the early 1930s, the modified Chi-pao had been wide welcomed. In spite of this, the garments with high collar were also popular, and the higher collar, the more popular. Later on, garments with low collars began to surpassed the high-collared one. Finally, cheongsam with no collar or sleeve was prevelent.  

Influence of Foreign Costume
With the increacing trade with foreign countries, many foreign goods inflow into China together with some western life styles. Women lived in big cities often joined in social activities in the 1930s-1940s, resulted to the change of social morals consequently. Western-style clothing and skirt together with glass and watch became more popular, bringing sunshade in hands making them more modern and romantic. Increacing number of women began to simulate Europe and Japan styles, and some even clothing styles of America. More fashionable women tended to wear red pleated skirts and brassiere to replace the old-time bellyband (an underwear that was made of red embroidery cloth and hung from the neck with gold or silver chains, handed down from ancient times). Besides, the one-piece dress spreaded all over China. What's more, fur coats were still favored in rich families.

The dressing style of slim coat (or clothing), black skirt (without embroidery pattern), wearing watch, elliptic sunglasses, taking handbag and umbrella was imported into China from Japan. This dressing style, first came into being in Guangzhou City at the end of the Guangxu reign, was especially chased by the so-called Free Lady to show that their thoughts and behaviors were fashionable.

The influence of western-style garments on China mainly lies in the period after the WWII. Many Chinese students studying abroad brought the oriental ornaments to western countries and at the same time, took western garments and adornments back to China.

In order to open the sales market of Chinese garments, relevant personages held the Fashion Show of Chinese Garments at the Shanghai Dahua Restaurant on January 9, 1930. It can be considered the first fashion show in China.

After cinema came into being, film stars became outstanding persons leading fashion trends gradually. Shanghai City became the camp of fashionable women's clothing in China, and the garments of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong became two branches of Shanghai City garments.

Specific Garments of the Republic of China
The government formulated the type of formal dresses in the first year of the Republic of China (1912-1949). Men wore dress suits, which can be classified into daytime suit and evening suit, usually consists of black cloth, trousers and cravats, and routine suits, included Western style and Chinese style (e.g. long gown and mandarin jacket). The formal dress of women bore with a collar and the lengeh can reach the knee with buttons down in the front. And skirts were ornamented with cartouches in the front and back, both sides were sewn with pleats, and the ends decorated with patterns of knots.

At that time, especially at the wedding ceremony, the rich urban girl, usually in a full dress of silk, was wrapped over the head with white a gauze and fetched a white bouquet, while the in the rural area, still preserved the old custom, the bride was still in a red coat, wore a hat decorated with jewels, took a red sedan.  

During the period of the Republic of China, the government specified new dress code, and men wore Sun Yat-sen's uniform (Chinese tunic suit) or western-style clothes. Most officials and intellectuals wore more frequently. White garments were worn in the summer, and black or dark garments in other seasons. Till now, the style with a mandarin jacket over a long gown was still in the rage. The clothing with erect collar, three pockets and seven buttons were mainly the uniform for students in universities and colleges. Other clothing, like a sleeveless jacket or a waistcoat over a long gown was also commonly seen. In contrast, rural men and women usually wore jackets and trousers or covered with ramie skirts.