A qipao (also known as the cheongsam) is a traditional Chinese feminine and slim-fitting dress that is believed to have originated during the Manchu reign in China.


Qipaos began to grow in popularity in the 1920s and was worn by socialites in Shanghai up until the 1950s, where it was considered unacceptable during the Cultural Revolution. In the 1980s it rose back to prominence, making appearances in films, the runway and is even accepted as formal attire.


Most of the qipao styles on the market today take inspiration from the style worn by Shanghai socialites in the 1920s and 1930s, considered by many to be a symbol of female liberation. They have a high collar and are slim and form fitting. They typically have a slit on the side and the sleeve length and style varies.


For everyday, more casual wear, women generally choose light colors or subdued floral patterns. Red, bright yellow and purple are traditionally worn by royalty or for special occasions. In China, red qipaos are commonly worn for weddings, and white qipaos are worn for funerals.


Qipaos are typically made from linen, polyester, cotton or silk. They can also be embroidered with pearls and other decorations.