How to Style || Qipao, the traditional Chinese dress

I've owned various Qipaos in my time, but this one takes the cake, and I bought it in Shanghai for about $24 USD.

Happy CNY! 祝大家新年快乐! Chinese New Year is a huge celebration based on the lunar calendar that lasts about two weeks. Yesterday was Chinese New Years Day, so the festivities have only just begun. Of course, CNY is not as “热闹,” or lively, stateside as it is in China, because the Chinese really know how to party! Yesterday afternoon, there was a dumpling party in place of my Chinese class, which was nice, but nothing beats the fireworks for days I experienced during CNY in Shanghai this time last year...the pollution index spiked by a billion percent for the next two weeks!

Anyway, there are rarely any opportunities to wear a Qipao or cheongsam, which is the traditional Chinese dress. It is really stunning, but it is decidedly difficult to wear out in public without looking like Chun Li or a bride at a Chinese wedding reception, even though it was the fashion of classy ladies in the 20s and 30s in China.

Not only can the Qipao feel costumey, but it can also be extremely sexy. It cuts close to the body and has these high slits on both sides...of course that makes me apprehensive.

I'm feeling in a very festive mood, as well as running out of red clothes (red is considered lucky to wear during CNY), so I wanted to break out the old Qipao. Especially in this porcelain print, it would really be a crime for it to sit in the back of my closet with the Norman Rockwell tee I mangled with a pair of scissors...

When in doubt, throw a sweater over it. This look is similarly styled like my slip dress, but the turtleneck is the only plausible garment to hide the Mandarin collar and turn the dress into a sultry printed skirt.

Of course I always play favorites, so this would be the most wearable way for me to incorporate the Qipao into my daily wardrobe. I wore it like I would a collared shirt under a thin-knit sweater and put on some slacks. I had to fold the skirt part into the bodice of the dress and tuck the rest in my pants, but the results were totally worth the really bad pseudo-origami.

This last look is what I would consider a "modern" Qipao. By breaking up the sexy silhouette with the addition of an A-line skirt, the dress instantly becomes a sweet little top. This keeps the main essence of the Qipao without being over the top.

恭喜发财, 身体健康!


  1. love all the combination. the dress is so pretty!

    love from San Francisco, Britt+Whit

  2. Happy New Year! Wow, absolutely love the way you styled the chi pao in so many practical ways. You look fantastic in all the outfits :) I really enjoy your blog so far and would love to follow each other--please join my GFC and I'll follow you right back!


    xo Jess

  3. I love the first and last look! X

  4. I really like the outfit with the A-line skirt! :)

    x Hilde