Cheongsam – The Chinese Wedding Gown

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Apart from the fact that people in China have different facial features than those of Westerners, taking a scan of a typical office, business attire tends to mimic that of Western-style.

The Chinese are not a people prone to displays of grandiosity or being ostentatious while in the work place. Men opt for a well-tailored suit and women can be seen wearing a skirt, blouse, pantyhose and heels of modest height. Her skirt is never form fitting and is always loose, and doesn’t reveal her figure in any manner. In keeping with modesty, jewelry and makeup are kept to a minimum. On those days a woman is not wearing a skirt and blouse, a loose fitting dress, same high heels and pantyhose may be substituted. Customarily, skirts and dresses are to the knee or longer. Colors for both men and women are subdued and essentially do not allow the wearer to call attention to him or herself.

Reserving Color For Weddings
As reserved as the Chinese are in the workplace, and as well as they blend with Westerners in their attire, weddings are anything but subdued, modest and lacking in color and adornments.

For everyone around the world, be they rich or poor, deeply rooted in tradition or rather informal, religious or Atheist, weddings are an opportunity to be someone you aren’t for a day. They are a time for celebrating the union of two people in love and the joining of two families. Far be it for the Chinese not to pull out the stops as they commit to partnership and continue the ancestral line on both sides.

As modest as both men and women are in the work place, get ready to see color and a lot of it at a Chinese wedding. In particular red and gold are most represented. Gold is of course symbolic for wealth and the creation of it as they begin their lives anew. Red is for happiness.

Rooted in Symbolism, This is Her Fashion Story

Unlike Western-style weddings, where the bride wears white to extol her virtues, a Chinese bride is a vision in red. Her red dress, known as a Cheongsam, will often be handmade and have details of a dragon and phoenix embroidered into it. The two represent man and woman respectively and symbolize the balance in marriage between the two. Chinese brides may start out in a white wedding dress, which is entirely influenced by American customs, she will end up in her traditional dress at some point during the festivities.

Adornments
Slightly similar to something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, Chinese women are adorned in symbolism. Her headpiece is fashioned to resemble the phoenix she is and may have a red veil or red beans that lightly caress her exquisitely made up face. Her wedding dress would be nothing if not plain if she were to pair this ensemble with anything other than red heels; the taller the better.

Rooted in Symbolism – His Version of Events
Brides aren’t the only ones who get to wear red and don adornments. A traditional groom will wear a long gown of dark blue. Dragons will have been hand embroidered into his gown, and overtop his gown is a silk coat, usually black. His red sash matches perfectly with his red shoes and the more traditional men will wear a red hat with tassels.

Let’s Eat
Having already tied the knot a few days earlier in a private ceremony, witnessed only by the happy couple’s immediate family, it’s time to eat. The room can fit 350-1000 of their closest friends and the decorations, of course, are made up of a dragon and phoenix and lots of gold and red. The food is nothing short of spectacular, consisting of a roast pig and depending upon where in the country the couple resides, sides dishes appropriate to their region. A Chinese wedding banquet is one that if you have not experienced for yourself, by all means you will want to make friends with a recently engaged Chinese couple.

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