Today is the first day of the lunar calendar this year, so a very Happy Chinese New Year! To create this wintery Chinese New Year outfit post, I have again combined a vintage item (see my Treasure of the Week posts for previous featured vintage items) with a qipao. It’s such a beautiful combination that I hope it helps you to feel inspired for your holiday outfit, and welcome the new year on a bright note.
A versatile and classic wintery Chinese New Year outfit
I had anticipated spending the past Christmas, New Year and possibly even Chinese New Year heavily pregnant, so back in December I had searched long and hard for a holiday pregnancy qipao (cheongsam). I eventually came across this red, knitted stretch wool qipao which was perfect, and paired it with my 1950s vintage Dior coat. The stretchy dress together with the coat’s bell shape accommodated my belly well, but the other reason I like this outfit is because I think it would work equally as well another year when (fingers crossed) my belly returns to its pre-pregnancy shape.
Well as it turns out, my little girl arrived earlier than any of these events, leaving me well and truly pre-occupied during Christmas and New Year. Now that Chinese New Year has come around and she is over 5 weeks old, I have finally had some time to sit down and look through these photos. I took these when I was 34 weeks pregnant and a week before she arrived. I really wanted to write this post before it was too late because, well, I picked this outfit for the holiday season and it is now almost the end of all the festivities! But more importantly, because it really showcases the versatility of the qipao, and how classic and elegant it can be even during pregnancy.
Red knitted stretch wool qipao (cheongsam)
You may have the perception that qipaos are made from silks, brocades or some other non-stretch material. This is generally true as these materials hold shape well, and are particularly important for the very traditional qipao, which is buttoned up along the side of the body using pankous, or traditional knotted buttons.
That’s why I had to search long and hard for a qipao which would accommodate a pregnant belly, and what makes this dress so unique. It is a “revised” qipao (“revised” qipaos first originated in the 1940s, and refer to those dresses fastened by zippers or other simple measures, rather than pankous) made from a thick wool knit. The heaviness of the knit (which does not cling to the body) and a smaller than usual diagonal chest opening allow the dress to retain the silhouette of the qipao despite the stretch.
Besides the unique fabric of the dress, I love the colour. It is a bright, true red, and there is no better colour than that for Chinese New Year! (Well, unless you want to be decked out in gold…) Red symbolizes good fortune, prosperity and is generally just a nice pop colour for the winter.
Vintage 1950s Dior coat
Appropriately, I bought this coat a few years ago on a Chinese New Year visit to San Francisco. I spent a sunny San Fran afternoon walking along the famous Haight Street, and discovered this coat on a mannequin in one of the smaller stores. I tried it on, left, and of course could not bring myself to look at anything else, so returned in half an hour and bought it.
The coat has such an understated but classic cut. I had it re-lined when I returned to Shanghai, and even the tailor commented that she had first thought little of it until she put it on a mannequin, and then realized how beautiful the cut was. I wore this coat for two winters as well as the last one when I was pregnant, it has been equally as flattering every year.
Do you have a favourite holiday outfit? Share by leaving a comment below!
For other winter qipao ideas you can also check the post on my warm cashmere winter qipao or qipao with vintage fur jacket and hat. For a completely different take on the red qipao, check out this cotton spring/autumn red qipao.