Chinese traditional dress hanfu is experiencing a significant renaissance, attracting lots of new fans from all over the world. However, whether you’re looking for a hanfu shop, discovering a hanfu costume for the first time or an experienced retro wearer, there’s always a lot of information and tradition to learn!
We had in-depth interviews with professional traditional Chinese clothing designers and artists, which shares their unique sights for enjoying hanfu, from how to choose & wear, to makeup styling suggestions, from how to taking care of your hanfu, to make the best matching in different seasons; and more useful tips.
Yes, No matter you have any questions about hanfu, there have all the answers! This post will introduce hanfu to you from the shape, shape, size, fabric, and other aspects. I hope you can easily buy clothes suitable for yourself.
First of all, we should understand that Hanfu is the daily clothes of ancient Chinese people in history. We know that people all over the world wear different clothes in ancient times than in modern times.
Just like the history of suits. The modern lounge suit appeared in the late 19th century, but traces its origins to the simplified, sartorial standard of dress established by the English King Charles II in the 17th century.
It’s the same with hanfu, follows the changes and innovations of The Times. Although it is now called as traditional dress, it’s still a simple dress. In that sense, it’s not special at all.
1. How to Choose a Hanfu style? – Formal, Casual, or for Cosplay?
If according to the formal etiquette culture, a person needs at least two kinds of Hanfu clothes: regular clothes and formal clothes. Just like your daily clothes and formal clothes, different types of dresses on different occasions reflect your manners and respect for others.
Hanfu has a very long history, so the styles of Hanfu is quite complicated in different dynasty.
With the exception of some particularly typical styles of the times, there are more minority styles.
However, here we will list the most popular styles of each period and teach you how to choose from.
Han Dynasty & the Three Kingdom Period – Shenyi
Shenyi is one-piece clothes, that is to say, its top and skirt are sewn together, tightly wrapping the body. Shenyi represents the Chinese implicit, gentle, and inclusive culture. Therefore, many modern scholars propose to take shenyi costume clothes as the representative clothing of Hanfu, and also as the formal clothing of important cultural events in China.
Wei & Jin Dynasty – Waist ruqun
The most significant characteristic of Wei Jin hanfu style is to separate the top shirt (called Ru) and the bottom skirt (called Qun), and the design and material of the Ruqun is a very light & flowing style.
This was because the thought of that time advocates nature and pursues freedom, so the style of clothes suddenly became very open, broad and loose, no longer like the previous tight-fitting.
So if you have ever seen Chinese martial arts movies or mythical immortals, most of their clothing styles are based on the revision of this Ruqun hanfu.
Want cosplay to be a Kungfu Master? This’s what you need
Tang Dynasty – Chest Ruqun, Flat Collar Ruqun, Round Collar Robe
Tang Dynasty is one of the most open periods in Chinese history. In this period, the material resources are extremely rich, and people’s living standards have greatly improved.
At the same time, a lot of silk was used to make clothes lighter, transparent, and sexier styles began to appear, among which the most famous one was chest ruqun. The top shirt is shortened, the skirt is tied to the chest position. Women are beginning to show off their graceful bodies instead of using a thick cloth to wrap the whole body.
Tanling (flat collar ruqun) was also very popular with women in this period, from the image, you can see that the top shirt is just like today’s mini T-shirt.
The above two styles of hanfu are very casual and suitable for females. Of course, there was also a hanfu style specially designed for males in the Tang Dynasty.
The Round Neck Robe, a new style, was slowly accepted as being correct outside its original settings, and during gradually began to be seen in the major big cities.
As the robe rose in relative formality, first becoming acceptable for businessmen, then it became popular with poets, and growing standard dress even in the remote town.
In the Tang dynasty, the “Senior Robe,” saw a large rise in popularity, and it was adopted as the uniform of the government in later dynasties.
Song Dynasty – Beizi & Songku Set
Usually, Beizi is a thin and light shirt, with long and short versions, or slits on the sides, because it’s designed for summer and makes you feel cool. Girls will usually wear a traditional Dudou (tank top or vest) inside to keep them from getting naked.
Songku is casual pants, which are basically the same as modern wide-leg trousers. It’s very loose and uses soft & breathable fabrics.
Beizi + Dudou + Songku is the best combination for the summer holiday, casual and fashion.
I think songku is the most daily traditional hanfu style, simple design and very convenient.
If you are a new fan of Hanfu, and you dare not start with other complicated styles, then I recommend you to buy a songku hanfu set because it’s very casual to wear and looks good.
Ming Dynasty – Aoqun & Horse-face Skirt
Ao (a kind of coat for winter) and horse-face skirt are widely regarded as the gorgeous combination of Hanfu by the public.
Drawing on the characteristics of Mongolian nomads’ dress and traditional Chinese gilding techniques, this new dress, called horse-face skirt, is destined to be extraordinary.
Like standing on the shoulders of the giants, it’s easier for them to achieve more. Aoqun & Horse-face skirt, as a result of learning from the previous generations of hanfu’s valuable experience, so it was born with great success.
Why say that? Because it became almost the only fashion of its time, from wedding to daily; from nobles to civilians; from city to village; it’s everywhere. Even in modern times, it’s still a good choice (another popular traditional Chinese wedding dress is Cheongsam) if a couple plans to have a traditional Chinese wedding.
21 Century – Modern Hanfu
What is a modern hanfu?
The modern hanfu is an improved version of traditional Chinese clothing, also called as new hanfu. The modern hanfu is based on Western-style clothing, formed by integrating the essential elements of traditional hanfu outfit.
The most obvious is, modern hanfu has a western modern 3D design that helping modern hanfu embraces more close-fitting tailoring, and this allows each piece to fall uniquely on each unique body type.
Besides fashion design, modern hanfu retains traditional elements, for example, retro patterns, cross-collar, and delicate embroidery.
Yes, modern hanfu is designed for fashionable young people, and you can wear them like other ordinary clothes every day.
In China, Ruqun and Ming-style are the most popular, and Song-style and modern hanfu outfits are the first choice for casual and daily wear. Of course, you can choose any of the above, as long as you like. Because now, no matter in school, on the street, or in office buildings, you will see that different people wear different kinds of hanfu suits.
2. How to Choose the Hanfu’s Color, Material & Embroidery?
Should you follow the traditional color matching or conform to the current aesthetic concept?
In fact, there are not too many restrictions on the color of hanfu clothes, same as your usual clothes, just don’t be too frivolous, avoid making yourself look ridiculous. Generally, the color matching of the finished garments provided by the professional hanfu merchant is proper. At this time, we only need to consider whether the color matches our skin and suits our age.
So, if it’s for casual wear, or if you want to take beautiful photos, just follow your hobbies.
Why do we talk about embroidery? Because it is the most delicate part of hanfu clothing. At the same time, it is also the most discussed topic by Hanfu lovers.
Generally speaking, there are three kinds of embroidery patterns, flowers, animals, and landscape painting. The embroidery of Hanfu can adopt one or all combinations.
Also, the complexity of embroidery directly determines the price of Hanfu. So if you don’t need a sparkling dress for important events, a standard embroidery is good enough. A large area of high-quality embroidery, although stunning and gorgeous, but it also means a high price and will be much more difficult to cleaning and preserve.
As for materials, there are usually five kinds: linen, cotton, silk, chiffon, and polyester blend. When cleaning, we should decide how to wash – hand wash, machine wash, dry clean, detergent, water temperature, etc. according to different materials.
Generally, chiffon is soft but lack of air permeability; silk is breathable & lightweight but will reel off raw silk, not easy to care for; cotton is skin-friendly but easy to wrinkle; linen is natural and plain; polyester is durable.
Silk is the most desirable, and most formal fabric while it’s luxury and expensive, and the cotton-linen blend is more friendly – can be widely used. These days there are polyester hanfu as well; they are generally more casual.
Clothes are worn on the body. Don’t neglect the materials because of the beautiful looking.For some special occasions, such as the traditional Chinese wedding, it’s a good choice to choose red or white color. except this, you can match any color you like.
3. Choose Accessories & Jewelry for Your Hanfu
Although accessories for hanfu are optional, if you want to have an authentic traditional experience, then choose some common accessories that will make you look better.
Vintage Hairpins, Hairbands, Wigs Set & Tattoo
They are good helpers for retro makeup & hairstyles, making you a real classical beauty, or an ancient noble princess. Even if you don’t wear a hanfu, these are also very suitable for modern style.
Portable Embroidery Bags
Like most women’s clothes, hanfu lack pockets, so an essential accessory for a day out in a hanfu is an appropriate purse or clutch.
It’s so weird to wear a hanfu suit with a pair of sports sneakers. Traditional embroidered shoes are exactly what you need, classic cute style and soft materials help you enjoy all day. And for male, a pair of high boots are a good choice.
Handfan & Scarf
If you plan to take beautiful art pictures, carry a delicate hand fan with you. Choose your favorite style, folding fan, round fan, landscape painting & character pattern, and so on. Besides, if you have a fan in hot summer day, it can bring you endless coolness.
And a silk scarf will make you an immortal fairy goddess of East, dancing in the wind.
To add a little spice, you can go for bold earrings, which are especially prominent if you’re wearing your hair up. If your hanfu sleeves are a bit short, which they often are, you can wear stylish bracelets to complement that space. The necklace that can be wear, it’s also a great eye-catcher for your outfit.
4. Where Can You Go to Buy a Genuine Hanfu?
In general, there are two places you can go shopping for hanfu depending on where you are, your budget, and what you want to do with the hanfu.
Buy Hanfu in China’s Local Market
There are thousands of independent and chain hanfu shops across China, but the easiest way to find one is to go to the large department stores (Mixc, Wanda, Rainbow, etc.). They will usually have a traditional clothing department.
99% of the hanfu you see in these shops will be high-end silk chiffon and accept custom order. If you are larger or taller than the average Chinese and want to wear a perfect well-fitted hanfu, this may be your best option. Of course, it can take about 2-3 weeks to wait, if you are on a short trip, be sure the store can ship back to your home country.
Offline stores are generally 100% restored to the most traditional Hanfu, and the prices of ready-to-wear can range from $200 to $500, and the customized can be up to over $1000. These shops are great for those with a large budget or who want to wear hanfu the way it was meant to be.
In addition to traditional Chinese clothes, online shopping sometimes also carry a selection of modern hanfu made from high-quality polyester fabric. Due to using durable material, they are washable and can be thrown into a washing machine to clean them that is very convenient. They’re a great choice and at a friendly price, usually under $100. They are usually support shipping worldwide, just wait 1-2 weeks, the package will arrive at your door.
Besides, these online shops are also the best place to find all of the accessories that you’ll need to dress in a hanfu properly. The staff are very knowledgeable and will be happy to answer any questions or order in any specialty items you may be looking for.
The price they state is usually the best one they will offer. And if you are buying multiple items from a single vendor, you can ask if they would be willing to give you a special discount.
Take your measurements before you make an online order, read their hanfu size guide to make sure to choose the correct size.
The most hanfu in physical stores will not be sold online generally, so you can get some unique, beautiful styles in the shopping mall.
Measure your latest measurements in advance when you shop hanfu online. If you go to a physical store, you can ask the store manager to measure it for you. Just remember. They have more experience in figure data.
Nowadays, Chinese hanfu robes are becoming a new fashion trend. It can be wear as daily, casual, festival, event, also made into performance wear garments as movie & drama costumes.
It’s an excellent assistant for artwork – taking beautiful photos and shootings because of their elegant design and delicate embroidery.
To keep pace with The Times, hanfu is always on the way to improving; the past dozens of styles and modern hanfu clothes are the best proof.
Although the hanfu may not be as ubiquitous these days, it’s as relevant and powerful as ever.
Yes, the hanfu is an art of history, when you wear it, you turn this art into of fashion.
This positive spirit gives you more confidence. they always tell you, “Oh, I feel so pretty all the time.” When you wear a hanfu dress, you would like to keep in with this cute fairy, and you will become more conscientious and graceful.