A group of women in Nanjing, China appeared in the local news because they all wore Mandarin dresses to go sightseeing in a begonia garden. They totally stood out from the crowd, most of whom were in jeans.
As a matter of fact, if you are just taking a walk on a sightseeing tour, not running or hiking, it’s absolutely fine to wear a dress, which will be more photogenic than jeans. A modernized Mandarin dress will work, too. Modernized Mandarin dresses, either above-the-knee or in tea length but with high slits, allow you to move freely.
If there was anything making those Nanjing ladies uncomfortable during their stroll, that would not have been their Mandarin dresses, but must have been their pointy-toe shoes. They could have walked in canvas shoes (which look more ladylike than running shoes) or hiking boots instead.
See how well a Mandarin dress can go with boots:
Don’t forget Mandarin dresses originated from Manchuria, where women used to ride horses, wearing Mandarin dresses with boots. It was Westernization that made Chinese women begin to pair Mandarin dresses with pumps in the 1930s. While pumps do bring out the elegance of Mandarin dresses, the shoes you wear should depend on where you go. When you are going outdoors, low-heeled boots will be a more comfortable choice.
If you are going to a famous garden this spring, why not put on a floral Mandarin dress to have photos taken there? The floral print on your dress and the flowers around you will work together to get you into the spirit of spring!
Below are some lovely floral dresses for your consideration:
Please note that all these dresses cover the shoulders. That’s because the shoulders and the upper back are where the skin can get sunburned most easily. It’s better to cover your shoulders when you go outdoors and save shoulder-revealing dresses for evening events.
Another option is to layer a light jacket over your strapless or halter dress for outdoor occasions.
A clothing store named Shanghai Hongxiang recently caught media attention in New York. What’s special about the store is that it takes custom orders to make Mandarin dresses, also known as cheongsam or qipao.
Mr. Zhu, the master tailor of Shanghai Hongxiang, has more than 30 years of Mandarin dress making experience since he was 18.
“To make a classic Mandarin dress, it requires measuring dozens of the body parts,” said Mr. Zhu. “When we make the dress, we must hand-sew the key areas needle by needle to ensure the right shape and a perfect fit.”
Hongxiang offers more than 300 types of fabrics for customers to choose. The way Mandarin dresses are custom made here is reminiscent of the first Hongxiang store, established in Shanghai in 1917, named after its owner. The owner’s family name was Jin. Hongxiang was his given name.
Mr. Jin was the first tailor to apply the silhouettes of Western dresses to Mandarin dresses, so Hongxiang quickly attracted many fashion lovers. Later, in 1935, Hongxiang earned national fame by custom-making the movie star Hu Diay’s wedding gown. Since Hu Diay means “butterfly” in Chinese, Mr. Jin embroidered 100 butterflies onto her wedding gown. That caused a sensation.
It’s a pity that we cannot see the embroidered butterflies in the black-and-white wedding picture. However, if you like butterflies, here are two Mandarin dresses with beautiful butterfly prints.
Today the old Hongxiang still enjoys great popularity in Shanghai while the new Hongxiang is alluring American customers in New York. For a store like Hongxiang to survive and thrive in America’s fashion capital, it’s definitely no coincidence. It means there is an increasing demand for custom-made Mandarin dresses in New York.
As a matter of fact, Mandarin dresses are more and more popular with women of all races worldwide, since numerous Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman and Emma Watson have come out in stunning Mandarin dresses. However, Mandarin dresses require detailed tailoring. If you covet the graceful looks and figure flattering cuts of Mandarin dresses, a ready made Mandarin dress from mass production will disappoint you. Only an exclusively tailored Mandarin dress can deliver your dreams.
What if you don’t live in Shanghai or New York? Fortunately, there are on-line stores that let you submit your measurements and custom make Mandarin dresses for you. Elegente.com is the most renowned one of them.
Elegente.com offers more than 1,000 styles and fabric choices. No matter what your preferences are, you should be able to find something you like among Elegente dresses.
Below are some red Mandarin dresses with gold patterns which somewhat resemble the one from Shanghai Hongxiang in New York and can work for a Chinese-style wedding reception or formal Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
Since ancient times, purple has always been a color of royalty. When this noble color appears on graceful Mandarin dresses, it just can’t get any more glamorous!
Purple comes in many different shades. The Mandarin dress shown above is mostly in a pinkish purple, which looks sweet and youthful. Combining this shade of purple with gold color will especially make you appear like a princess.
Here is a princess-like Mandarin dress in not only light purple, also known as lavender, and gold, but also white, which will give you a more innocent appeal.
Another shade of purple, violet, is a little stronger and brighter than lavender. This is a really amazing color. It’s eye-catching, but not as showy as scarlet red. It’s somehow more reserved, with a sense of mystery, therefore alluring. It will let you show off your beauty in the most tasteful way!
This violet Mandarin dress is a must-have not only because it comes in the prettiest shade of purple, but also because it’s incredibly slimming. The huge embroidered peony flower around one side of the waist certainly makes the waistline appear much thinner by contrast. Although the model is skinny to begin with, this design still makes her look even more slender. You will agree if you compare the same model in this Mandarin dress and in another one.
The blueish purple velvet Mandarin dress is not as slimming as the violet silk one. However, thanks to its dark color, at least it won’t make you look bigger. The hand-beaded gold flowers along its placket and around its bottom make it absolutely high-end. In case you worry about the soft velvet making your waist appear fleshier, you can use a solid black wide belt to cinch your waist.
Of course belting won’t be necessary if you are skinny and have a naturally curved-in waistline. Just in case you need a belt to define your waist, you can do that with another purple velvet Mandarin dress, too.
This shade of purple is somewhat reddish. It is reminiscent of amethyst and can be called “amethyst purple.” The jewel tone of this color looks super rich. If you want something high-class, this is the classiest shade of purple for you!
Here is another Mandarin dress in amethyst purple.
The amethyst purple silk already looks luxurious, not to mention the embroidered peony flowers added to it. As peony flowers symbolize wealth and status in Chinese culture, this really can be an auspicious engagement dress!
When reddish purple gets a little darker, the color is often called “eggplant.”
This is absolutely a slimming color. The black lace placket on the Mandarin dress shown above also helps because diagonal lines are always optically trimming.
A Taiwanese TV show host nicknamed Little S once wore the eggplant Mandarin dress at a dinner banquet celebrating her baby’s recent birth. Can you believe how slender she looked right after giving birth? Although she has always been famous for teaching people how to lose weight fast, the dress still should take some credit, because an unflattering dress can even make a model look a bit chunky.
In case you need to hide your baby weight, here is a Mandarin dress that comes in an even darker shade of purple than eggplant.
It’s not just the dark purple that makes this Mandarin dress slenderizing. The dress is made of a very solid fabric. So, instead of clinging to the body, it stays shapely on its own. This is definitely the kind of fabric you need if you have an extra inch of fat you’d rather conceal.
By now you’ve seen how fabulously diverse shades of purple can work on Mandarin dresses. What if you love them all? Well, you can get them all on different Mandarin dresses, or you can pick one Mandarin dress that comes in a print with various shades of purple.
Here are some lovely choices of purple floral dresses:
Seriously, if you have a special occasion coming up, nothing beats a purple Mandarin dress. Just try one on, and you’ll find yourself prettier than you’ve ever thought you could be!
If you think you are too old for a beauty pageant because you are no longer 21, think again. The contestants of the 2014 Mrs. Global Chinese Pageant are all over 25, and the oldest one is 63!
The Vancouver-based pageant, scheduled to take place on Nov 10, is a fund-raising event for a children’s hospital. Given “Mrs.” in the title of the pageant, all the contestants are married women.
At a pre-event press conference, the 12 finalists all came out in ankle-length Mandarin dresses to pose for photo shoots.
Among the finalists, the youngest and the oldest were both wearing red, but different shades of red.
Bright Red to Match the Youthful Skin
The scarlet Mandarin dress on the 25-year-old contestant makes her young face look more radiant. Since bright red is eye-catching, it will bring a lot of attention to your face. That’s why your skin must be very smooth to pull off this color.
If you are in your 20s or early 30s, here are some ankle-length Mandarin dresses in bright red, which you may consider for your Chinese-style wedding banquet, or the 2015 Mrs. Global Chinese Pageant.
Graceful Burgundy for Mature Ladies
For those who have aged out on bright red, burgundy is a nice alternative. It has the same warm tone that can bring out a little blush on your cheeks to make you look more energetic, but it won’t draw attention to the imperfections on your skin, if any.
In case you are in your 50s or 60s, here are some burgundy Mandarin dresses you can wear for your child’s wedding or the 2015 Mrs. Global Chinese Pageant.
Brilliant Sapphire Blue or Glorious Golden Yellow for those from Mid 30s to Early 40s
Although burgundy is a very flattering color, most women under 45 tend to stay away from it because it seems like older ladies’ favorite color. If you feel you are too young for burgundy but not young enough for bright red, go for sapphire blue or golden yellow. These two colors look elegant, so they actually work better with a little age than inexperienced youth, but they are vibrant in the meantime and therefore won’t make you look older.
Slimming Patterns for those from Mid to Late 40s
Women tend to gain excessive weight in their 40s. So, if you are in your mid to late 40s, you may want the slimming effect of black. However, all black may look dull on a middle-aged woman — all black works best with smooth fair skin for a nice contrast of color, but that’s usually not the case with middle-aged women.
Actually, for any age, it’s better to have some print or beading on black to make it look more lively. In addition, the print or beading can be arranged to create inward curves along the waistline, subsequently generating a slenderizing effect. Here are some black Mandarin dresses with really pretty and slimming print or beading.
All the Mandarin dresses shown above are meant for formal occasions. You can definitely pick one for your next black-tie event. Or use it for the 2015 Mrs. Global Chinese Pageant!
Shanghai has always been China’s main fashion center for the past century. Recently, two graduate students in Shanghai produced a fashion show featuring 48 Mandarin dresses in four categories. These four categories can represent the current trends of Mandarin dresses in China and provide guidance for Mandarin dress shoppers worldwide. Let’s look at some other high-quality Mandarin dresses that were NOT presented at the fashion show but fall into the four categories:
1) Shanghai Classic
Traditional elements of Mandarin dresses, such as fine trimming, ornate buttons, and elaborate embroidery, are applied. Suzhou-style embroidery is in particular emphasized because Suzhou City, which is located near Shanghai, has been famous for exquisite embroidery for centuries. Mandarin dresses in the Shanghai classic category are meant for special occasions.
2) Shanghai Natural
Mandarin dresses in this category are modernized to be more comfortable, with artistic prints reminiscent of picturesque scenery in the canal-woven villages along the Yangtze River. These Mandarin dresses are prefect for casual weekend activities, such as going to the movies or getting together with friends.
3) Shanghai Cosmopolitan
This category is full of modernized Mandarin dresses that all look conservative enough to be office appropriate. Given the sheath form of the traditional Mandarin dress, it’s actually very easy to make Mandarin dresses similar to business outfits that usually consist of pencil skirts or sheath dresses.
4) Shanghai Youthful
Although Mandarin dresses come from Chinese history, they are not just traditional. They can be transformed into very chic and very cute mini dresses for 20-somethings.
After viewing all the Mandarin dresses shown above, you must agree that they are not just for traditional Chinese holidays or for Chinese women only. They are suitable for many different occasions in modern society everywhere in the world.
As the weather cools down, elbow sleeves, also known as half sleeves, become a practical choice. Although you can still wear a sleeveless dress and layer a jacket over it, you may feel slightly frustrated when it’s even too cold for you take off the jacket indoors. Before winter arrives, most indoor places are not heated. That means the coldest season for indoor environments may be fall instead of winter! Fall is really a time for elbow-sleeve dresses!
Keeping You Warm Indoors
The red elbow-sleeve Mandarin dress shown above would be ideal for a Chinese wedding banquet held in the fall. The bride won’t need to layer a bolero or shawl over the dress during the banquet to keep her arms warm. Every guest will get to see the beauty of the entire dress!
Why elbow sleeves but not long sleeves then? You may ask. Well, first of all, elbow sleeves are long enough to keep us warm. When it’s just a little chilly, we will feel cold in our upper arms but not in the lower arms, because our lower arms move a lot and thus usually stay warm.
Secondly, elbow sleeves won’t restrict the movement of the lower arms. You do everything more easily in elbow sleeves than in long sleeves.
Plus, in most cases, unless the long sleeves are sheer or made of lace, long-sleeve dresses tend to look a little matronly. You certainly don’t want to add years to the age you look!
Sophisticated but Youthful
Elbow sleeves look more conservative than short sleeves or the sleeveless style, but they won’t make you appear older. Since the exposure of the lower arms allows free movements of the entire arms, it keeps your entire image agile, therefore youthful.
An elbow-sleeve dress can be a wonderful office outfit. Its sleeves will keep your upper arms warm at work but won’t get in the way when your lower arms are busy moving over the desk.
Below are some office-appropriate Mandarin dresses with elbow sleeves.
Perfect Combination of Elbow Sleeves and the Mandarin Collar
Elbow-sleeve dresses come in many styles, but they look best with the traditional Mandarin collar, because the stand-up collar can enhance the sleek look of the elbow sleeves. In the meantime, the Mandarin collar will keep your neck warm in the cooling weather.
If you put on an elbow-sleeve Mandarin dress, you won’t need a scarf. You won’t need a necklace, either — the ornate frog buttons of the Mandarin dress should suffice to decorate your collar bone area. You can totally minimize your accessories, and you know minimalism is considered tasteful in fashion.
In the fall, an elbow-sleeve Mandarin dress made of splendid silk is really all you need for special occasions. Below are some fantastic choices:
All these Mandarin dresses look fancy enough for you to just let one of them shine on its own without bothering with accessories.
No matter you have work, play, or both in mind, you can never go wrong with an elbow-sleeve Mandarin dress in the fall. Definitely pick one this fall!
It’s fall, but it doesn’t mean you cannot wear your summer dresses any more. Simply by layering a bolero over a summer dress, you can keep wearing your favorite summer dress.
Versatile White Boleros
White is the most accommodating color that can go with any dress. You will never regret getting a high quality white bolero like the one below.
A bolero can go with any type of dress, but it looks the most elegant with a Mandarin dress, because the Mandarin stand-up collar of the Mandarin dress gives the collarless bolero a more formal aura.
If a short-sleeve bolero is not warm enough for you in the cooling weather, you can easily pick one with three-quarter sleeves.
Tailored Three-Quarter-Sleeve Jackets
This jacket comes in two color options. Body conscious women can go for the slimming black, which is a little less accommodating than white but can match most dress colors.
When the weather gets colder, you may want a velvet bolero to bring you warmth and glamour at the same time.
Elegant Velvet Boleros
The velvet bolero is the best match for classy silk dresses.
For cotton dresses, a knit bolero will be a more natural companion.
Cozy Knit Boleros
Don’t you find the coral red appealing? It will brighten your mood when the sky is gray. It definitely goes well with a red floral dress, as shown above, but it can also work with dark or neutral colors such as black, navy blue and chestnut.
Speaking of colors, turquoise is another bright color that can cheer you up when you find the cold weather depressing.
Turquoise is a great color for contrasts. You see how beautiful it looks with fuchsia pink in the photo above. It also works fabulously with butter yellow and lime green. Just give those combinations a try and you will agree!
Remember the way your prom date color-coordinated his bow tie with your dress? Color coordination between a couple actually can go way beyond the prom night.
In America, there are two couples known for wearing matching outfits almost every day for more than 35 years. They are Mel and Joey Schwanke in Nebraska, and Donald and Nancy Featherstone in Massachusetts. You may not want to go this far, but it definitely feels sweet to color-coordinate your cocktail dress with your boyfriend’s or husband’s tie for social events you are both attending. In the meantime, you can choose a Mandarin dress to be your cocktail dress, following the example of Peng Liyuan, China’s first day.
Look at the first couple of China getting off the airplane arm in arm, with a lime green silk tie on him and a lime green glittery silk Mandarin dress on her. The exact match of color makes both of their outfits more eye-catching and even more elegant.
If you like lime green, here is a lovely lime green Mandarin dress with white polka dots:
In the next photo, Ms. Peng (please note that the Chinese name order puts the family name first and Chinese women keep their maiden names) is wearing a modernized Mandarin dress, which doesn’t come with a Mandarin collar but with distinctly Oriental embroidery.
This modernized Mandarin dress of Ms. Peng’s comes in silvery gray, whereas her husband’s tie is slate blue, a grayish shade of blue. So, this is not an exact match, but a coordination of similar colors. While it doesn’t impress as strongly as an exact match does, it’s a more subtle way of telling the world that the two are a couple. Some people prefer making implicit statements. If that describes you, simply pick a dress in a similar hue to your man’s favorite tie. It’s much easier than finding the exact color.
By the way, if your man has a nice silk tie in slate blue like President Xi’s, here is a Mandarin dress you can wear to subtly match it.
The silvery gray print makes the midnight blue background of the silk brocade dress look very close to slate blue.
Speaking of blue and gray, here is another photo in which China’s first couple presents a scheme of these two colors.
In this photo, President Xi’s tie is blueish gray, but his wife’s Mandarin dress comes mostly in a very bright shade of sapphire blue. When a couple uses this kind of color scheme, with the brighter color on the lady, it puts the spotlight on her.
If this glorious Mandarin dress appeals to you, here is one looking strikingly similar.
This Mandarin dress is in exactly the same shade of sapphire blue. It also comes with fancy embroidered flowers in the same position as those on Ms. Peng’s dress. But in a sleeveless design with a cute keyhole, it looks more youthful.
If you like working with blue to create a couple’s color scheme, here is one more example: Ms. Peng is wearing a purplish blue Mandarin blouse to go with her husband’s blueish purple tie.
It doesn’t matter that his tie is more purple and her dress is more blue. They look harmonious together, just like a couple being very close but keeping some individuality. This kind of color coordination really can symbolize a perfect modern relationship!