Top 9 Traditional Chinese Clothing/Dresses

Written by Matteo Updated Jan. 20, 2023

Chinese traditional clothing is famous for its luxurious styles. The top 9 most famous Chinese clothes include Cheongsam, Hanfu, Tang Suit, Zhongshan Suit, and Shenyi. etc. 

It has been shaped by different dynastic traditions, and therefore, its characteristics in different dynasties can reflect the social background and culture at that time. 

Nowadays, although Chinese people don't wear traditional clothes in their daily lives, some traditional attires are still worn during certain festivals and ceremonies. 

1. Hanfu

Hanfu,  also known as traditional Han Chinese clothing,  is the traditional clothing style of the Han people.  It is the most well-known Traditional style of Chinese clothing.

It is the most well-known Traditional style of Chinese clothing. Because of its luxurious styles and beautiful colors, Hanfu has become one of the most favorable clothing to take photos for Chinese females.  


Hanfu features a loose upper garment with a cross collar, wide sleeves, and ankle-length skirts or trousers. The buttonless upper garment overlaps the right border to the left and is tied with a belt sash. The belt sash was often decorated with jade.

Hanfu is a typical representative of traditional Chinese clothing. It has a history of more than 4,000 years.

Through several dynasties, Hanfu developed various styles and characteristics. Each dynasty has its distinctive dress codes, reflecting the culture of the times.

There are two basic forms of Hanfu, that is, the jacket with skirt or trousers, and a one-piece dress.  There are three representative styles of Hanfu, including paofu (one piece of long dress), ruqun (consists of a short jacket and a long shirt, which can be separated), and shenyi (consists of a short jacket and a long shirt that can not be separated).

Han Traditional Chinese Clothing
Han Traditional Chinese Clothing

Chinese people don't wear Hanfu in their daily lives, but Han fu is still popular on special occasions such as weddings and Chinese New Year celebrations.

2. Cheongsam - Qipao

The cheongsam, also known as Qipao, is a traditional Chinese dress originating from a kind of garment worn by Manchurian women about 300 years ago. 

Qipao looks beautiful and elegant. It was extremely popular in China, especially in Shanghai, from the 1920s to 1940s. Cheongsam has evolved in design over the years.  It is still favored by many Chinese ladies. 


The cheongsam is a tight-fitting dress. The length of the cheongsam can be long or short. Cheongsam features a standing collar, the two ends of the collar fasten at the center of the front of the neck with pankous (traditional Chinese knotted buttons), and a pair of high-side slits above the knee. The sleeves can be of different shapes and lengths.

Cheongsam is now the most famous traditional Chinese clothes around the world. Although Chinese people don't wear cheongsam daily, this garment is still a popular outfit choice for festive occasions such as wedding ceremonies and Chinese New Year. 

3. Tang Suit (Tangzhuang)

Tang suit, also known as the Chinese suit, or Tangzhuang, is a traditional Chinese jacket with Manchu origins and Han elements combined with a Western-style suit-cutting method.

It does not refer to the clothing of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Actually, the Tang suit originated and developed from "Magua", a clothing of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). 

Originating from Magua, a Manchu men's jacket in the Qing Dynasty, the Tang suit features a duijin, a Chinese-style front opening jacket with buttons down the front. It has a stand-up collar and knobs made of intricately knotted strings. 

The Tang suit is popular in the world. It also has had a great influence on the clothing styles of some Asian countries.  Today, Chinese men still wear Tang suits as one of the formal attire on various occasions. 

tang suit
Tang Suit as Wedding costumes

4. Zhongshan Suit

Zhongshan suit, also called the Yat-sen suit or Mao suit, is a male attire style that combines the Western-style suit and traditional Chinese clothing style.

It features a turn-down collar, four pockets with flaps, five big buttons in the front, and three small cuff buttons on either sleeve. 

The name of the Zhongshan suit comes from Sun Yat-sen, the main leader who ended the Qing dynastic government and founded the Republic of China (1912 - 1949). 

Sun Yat-sen introduced the Zhongshan suit as a national garment shortly after the founding of the Republic of China and it became extremely popular among the Chinese people since then.

5. Shenyi

Shenyi is a representative style of the traditional Hanfu. It is a kind of gown in that the upper half is connected to the bottom half. The character "shen" means "deep" in Chinese, and "yi" means "clothes". Combined, the word "shenyi" means "deep clothes" literally, or to wrap the body deep in the cloth. The design of the Shenyi with loose sleeves and a long skirt is enough to cover the wearer's skin fully. 

Shenyi is traditional Chinese clothing dating back as far as 2000 years ago. It became mainstream and popular clothing in the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC to 220 AD). 


6. Ruqun

Runqun is a set of attire in Hanfu. It features a short jacket typically called "ru" and a long skirt called "qun".

Ruqun is one of the earliest and most basic clothing in the history of traditional Chinese clothing. It appeared in the Warring States period (403 BC - 221 BC) and became popular during the Wei, Jin, Southern, and Northern Dynasties (220 - 589). In the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), due to the widespread popularity of Shenyi, Ruqun was going out of fashion. 

zhongshan suit

7. Magua

Magua is a kind of Chinese traditional jacket that was popular in the Qing Dynasty (1636 - 1912). It is a short-sleeved, loose outer garment designed to be worn over a Changshan, or a gown. Magua is at waist length, and the sleeves can only cover the elbow. Such short sleeves are for the convenience of riding horses and shooting. 

In the early Qing Dynasty, Magua was only worn by soldiers. Later, Magua was worn by aristocrats and wealthy people and gradually became popular because of its elegant and generous style. During the Republic of China, Magua was listed as one of the ceremonial attire. After the founding of the Republic of China, Magua was gradually out of fashion. It returned to people's vision after improvement with the name of "Tang Suit".

8. Changshan

Changsha, also called Changpao, is a kind of Chinese robe worn by males that was popular in China from the 1920s to 1940s. Changsha was adapted from the Taoist robes that scholar-officials used to wear in the Ming Dynasty by adopting some Manchu men's clothing elements. Changshan was considered formal attire before Western-style suits were popular in China.

9. Miao Traditional Clothing

The Miao ethnic clothing maintains the traditional craftsmanship of weaving, embroidery, picking, and dyeing. The garments are richly colorful and display a distinct ethnic artistic characteristic. 

Miao people often wear their traditional clothing during festivals and important occasions such as weddings.  

Miao People's clothing
Miao People's Clothing

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