QIPAO The qipao is a Chinese dress for women. The style is also called cheongsam in Cantonese, and this term has come to be the more widely used one in English, though spelled in several different ways. The defining features of the dress are a fitted silhouette, a high collar, and side skirt slits. In its classic form, there is a front flap overlapping to the right, which fastens along the collarbone, under the arm, and down the right side. The details are subject to changing fashions within the limits of the basic form. It can be sleeveless, or have sleeves of any length. The hemline varies, but usually reaches somewhere between the knee and the ankle. The qipao can be made of almost any fabric, although it is mostly associated with silk. The dress material can have a printed or woven repeat pattern across its surface or, if the material is plain, a favorite way of tailoring the style is for the front panel of the dress to be pre-embroidered with a sweeping floral or dragon design, leaving the back of the garment unadorned. The entire dress is often edged in one or more strips of narrow binding, which is sometimes in plain-colored bias-cut satin, or else of lace or patterned ribbon. Although press-stud and zip fastenings are used, traditional knot buttons made from fabric are popular. These can be extravagantly shaped and are specially made to suit the pattern or color of the chosen dress material. To be a genuine qipao, the dress needs to be custom-made. Purchasing off the rack is not considered correct form.
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