What Did Chinese People Wear in Ancient Times?

Chinese culture has a rich history that spans thousands of years, and one of the most fascinating aspects of this cultural heritage is the traditional clothing worn by ancient Chinese people. From the Han Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, the clothing styles evolved and changed over time in response to various cultural, social, and economic factors.

The Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) was a period of great prosperity and cultural growth in China. During this time, traditional Chinese clothing began to take on distinctive features that set it apart from other cultures.

The basic outfit for men during this period consisted of a long robe with wide sleeves, tied at the waist with a sash. Women’s clothing was more elaborate, featuring long dresses with high collars and intricate embroidery.

Types of Clothing

There were several types of clothing worn during the Han Dynasty. One popular style for women was the Ruqun, which consisted of a blouse and skirt combination. The Daxiushan was another popular style for men, which featured a long robe with narrow sleeves that were tucked into cuffs at the wrist.

Materials Used

Silk was the most commonly used material for clothing during the Han Dynasty. This luxurious fabric was highly prized for its softness and durability. In addition to silk, other materials such as cotton and hemp were also used for making clothes.

The Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) is often referred to as China’s “golden age.” During this period, traditional Chinese clothing underwent significant changes in response to foreign influences from Central Asia and beyond.

The most distinctive feature of Tang Dynasty clothing was its shape. Clothing during this period tended to be more fitted and form-fitting than previous styles. Men typically wore robes with high collars and narrow sleeves, while women’s clothing featured long, flowing dresses with wide sleeves.

During the Tang Dynasty, silk remained the most popular material for clothing. However, new manufacturing techniques allowed for the creation of more intricate designs and patterns on the fabric.

The Ming Dynasty

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was a period of great cultural and artistic achievement in China. Clothing during this period reflected a desire for simplicity and elegance.

Men’s clothing during the Ming Dynasty was typically composed of a long robe with wide sleeves, worn over loose pants. Women’s clothing featured high-waisted dresses with wide sleeves and flowing skirts.

Silk continued to be the preferred material for clothing during the Ming Dynasty. However, advancements in dyeing techniques allowed for a wider range of colors and patterns to be used in clothing design.


Chinese traditional clothing has a long and fascinating history that reflects the cultural, social, and economic changes that occurred over time. From the Han Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, Chinese fashion evolved in response to changing tastes and influences from other cultures. Today, traditional Chinese clothing is still worn on special occasions or as a way to connect with China’s rich cultural heritage.