This vintage qipao blouse is made from silk, with full-bodied cuff sleeves and delicate embroidery with cut out pattern on the chest and collar areas. It is perfectly chic with a pencil skirt, especially in a bright and unexpected colour.
So far all of my posts have been about qipao (or cheongsam) dresses, but qipaos can also be made as short sleeve tops or blouses. So with spring in the air, I decided to it was just the right time to write about a long sleeved, silk qipao blouse.
Vintage chic from Hong Kong
In most of the cities that I go to, I will make a day out of vintage shopping (or vintage shop browsing), and for a city that I have lived in and used to frequent like Hong Kong, there are a few reliable spots that I try to hit up whenever I am in town, like Me and George. Although the store definitely requires some intense thrifting, I have uncovered many treasures here, including probably 5 or so very staple pieces from my wardrobe.
This qipao blouse is not one of those – and only because its delicate silk and embroidery requires more maintenance than very frequent use would allow – but it is one of my favourites. I think I bought it 6 or 7 years ago now, and I also think it may have been at a rather ridiculous price of maybe $30 or so HKD, which is only about USD$4.
A qipao blouse with embroidery and cutouts
This qipao blouse is not quite a traditional qipao top, even though it does have many traditional elements. In fact, the full double cuff sleeves, which are clearly “western” tailoring elements, balance nicely with the mandarin collar and hand stitched pankous (or traditional Chinese knot buttons), which are the quintessential qipao elements.
Needless to say, my favourite part of this qipao blouse is the floral embroidery that runs all the way from the mandarin collar down the chest, with intricate cut outs throughout. At the center of the embroidery is a series of snail patterned, handmade pankous, which also have press studs underneath for an extra layer of security.
But what I also love about this shirt are the sleeves, with the tiny gathers at the shoulders, the full-bodiedness around the wrists, and the long, elegant double cuffs. The soft drape of the silk works really well with this particular cut.
The best thing about this top though, is how versatile it is. I’ve worn it here with a pencil skirt and black pumps, which is a perfect outfit for the office. But you could also pair it with a high-waisted leather skirt for a night out, or some silk wide legged trousers for something even more formal.
I am not quite sure how old the blouse is or where it’s from, as besides some perfectly finished French seams on the inside, there are no labels or other indicators of where it started life. Besides the pankous which are hand stitched, the button seam and hem are also hand finished, so I’m inclined to think maybe it was custom made by a tailor for a Hongkong-nese lady. And judging by the age of the material, my guess is probably sometime between the 60s-80s. If you have a better idea of where or when this shirt may have come from, please leave me a message below, on facebook, or send me an email.