What Did the Chinese People Wear in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, clothing in China was not just about covering the body, but it was a reflection of the wearer’s social status, profession, and even their personal beliefs. The types of fabrics, colors, and styles were all carefully chosen to convey these messages. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of ancient Chinese clothing.

Women’s Clothing

Women’s clothing in ancient China varied greatly depending on their social status. The most common attire for women was a blouse and skirt made from silk or cotton.

However, high-ranking women wore more elaborate dresses called ‘qipao,’ which were long dresses with high collars and side slits. The sleeves on these dresses were often wide and flowing.


One significant aspect of ancient Chinese clothing for women was footbinding. This practice involved tightly wrapping young girls’ feet to keep them small and dainty. It was considered a symbol of beauty and elegance but had severe health consequences.

Men’s Clothing

Men’s clothing in ancient China was less varied than women’s clothing but still held great significance. Common attire included a long shirt with loose trousers or a gown-like garment called ‘changshan.’ The color black was reserved for high-ranking officials, while blue and green were more commonly worn by the general population.

The Dragon Robe

One notable garment worn by Chinese emperors was the dragon robe. This robe featured intricate designs of dragons woven into the fabric and was considered a symbol of power and authority.


Accessories played a crucial role in ancient Chinese fashion as they added an extra layer of meaning to an outfit. Women wore hairpins made from jade or gold to represent wealth and prosperity while men carried fans made from bamboo or silk as a symbol of elegance.

The Hanfu Movement

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional Chinese clothing. The Hanfu movement aims to revive the traditional clothing styles of the Han ethnic group and promote Chinese cultural heritage.

  • In conclusion, ancient Chinese clothing was not just about practicality but was a reflection of a person’s social status, profession, and personal beliefs.
  • Women’s clothing varied greatly depending on their status, with high-ranking women wearing more elaborate dresses called ‘qipao.’
  • Men’s clothing was less varied but still held significance, with the dragon robe being a notable garment worn by emperors.
  • Accessories played an essential role in ancient Chinese fashion as they added an extra layer of meaning to an outfit.
  • The Hanfu movement aims to revive traditional Chinese clothing styles and promote cultural heritage.

So there you have it – a brief overview of what people wore in ancient China. From footbinding to dragon robes, every aspect of clothing had a purpose and meaning behind it.