The qipao was not originally Chinese, but introduced by the Manchu invaders who established the Qing Dynasty and implemented laws that required the populace to adopt Manchu clothing and hairstyles instead of the traditional Chinese hanfu. However, since the Manchu were vassals to the former Han-led Ming Dynasty, the qipao itself had already been influenced by the clothing of the ethnic Chinese making the qipao a bit of a recursive piece of fashion. The qipao was originally loose-fitting; the high-slit, body-hugging dress with which the name is now associated was invented in Shanghai in the s. In English, the same garment is often called a cheongsam , a loan-word derived from the Cantonese pronunciation of the Shanghainese name for the dress which is zansae due to the large numbers of Shanghainese fleeing to Hong Kong during the communist revolution of Both of these are usually only worn for parties.
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Whatever I say on this answer, you should take with a grain of salt and anything a Chinese woman has to say on this topic here on Quota totally supersedes my view. Some background. Qipao as we know them today are a wonderful style of dress; they manage to be beautiful, elegant, and sexy all at the same time. Thanks to several co Thanks to several commenters for pointing it out!