From Robes to Pencil Skirts – Chinese Fashions in Modern History

  • December 13, 2011
  • Editor: Sun Xi
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1980s: Fashion Rules
A woman dancing in a batwing-sleeved sweater [28.com]

A woman dancing in a batwing-sleeved sweater [28.com]

As reform and opening-up took off, fashions in China began to show a more international flair. Chinese women abandoned the drab grays, blues, and greens of the 1970s to more vibrant colors and flamboyant styles.

As the market mechanism approached maturity in the mid-to-late 1980s, the fashion industry became a force. Clothing designs of that time, generally in fine, translucent fabrics such as silk, highlighted the artistic features and spirit of the time.

A troupe of women keep fit in ski pants [28.com]

A troupe of women keep fit in ski pants [28.com]

In the summer of 1982, black ski pants and short blouses were the rage.

Sports clothes became fashionable in the 1980s, when the Chinese people had more time for sports and leisure.

A trendy couple of the 1980s, he in frog-mirror shades, she in gypsy earrings. [28.com]

A trendy couple of the 1980s, he in frog-mirror shades, she in gypsy earrings. [28.com]


The different lifestyles in foreign countries that films and the media revealed made women reflect on the concept of dress and realize that the pursuit of beauty has no class boundaries; also that good taste does not necessarily signify healthy ideology.

Red and Yellow SkirtsThe movie Red Dresses Are in Fashion of 1984 depicts the conflict between a female model worker and the main character, who wears a pretty red skirt and encourages Chinese women to abandon rigid dress codes and pursue the styles they most like.

Almost every woman in Beijing who saw the film soon bought themselves red and yellow dresses in all designs.

On July 12, 1986, the China Textile News published the article Yellow Skirts Prevail in Beijing about the roaring trade that Xidan night market stall holders were doing in yellow skirts. One claimed he could sell as many as 100 in one night.

Puff-sleeved Princesses

The puff-sleeved dresses popular in the 1980s resembled that worn in the Walt Disney animation of Snow White. This trend implied the common wish among young women to meet and marry handsome princes.

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  • From Robes to Pencil Skirts – Chinese Fashions in Modern History2011-12-13   Editor: Sun Xi
    1980s: Fashion Rules
    A woman dancing in a batwing-sleeved sweater [28.com]

    A woman dancing in a batwing-sleeved sweater [28.com]

    As reform and opening-up took off, fashions in China began to show a more international flair. Chinese women abandoned the drab grays, blues, and greens of the 1970s to more vibrant colors and flamboyant styles.

    As the market mechanism approached maturity in the mid-to-late 1980s, the fashion industry became a force. Clothing designs of that time, generally in fine, translucent fabrics such as silk, highlighted the artistic features and spirit of the time.

    A troupe of women keep fit in ski pants [28.com]

    A troupe of women keep fit in ski pants [28.com]

    In the summer of 1982, black ski pants and short blouses were the rage.

    Sports clothes became fashionable in the 1980s, when the Chinese people had more time for sports and leisure.

    A trendy couple of the 1980s, he in frog-mirror shades, she in gypsy earrings. [28.com]

    A trendy couple of the 1980s, he in frog-mirror shades, she in gypsy earrings. [28.com]


    The different lifestyles in foreign countries that films and the media revealed made women reflect on the concept of dress and realize that the pursuit of beauty has no class boundaries; also that good taste does not necessarily signify healthy ideology.

    Red and Yellow SkirtsThe movie Red Dresses Are in Fashion of 1984 depicts the conflict between a female model worker and the main character, who wears a pretty red skirt and encourages Chinese women to abandon rigid dress codes and pursue the styles they most like.

    Almost every woman in Beijing who saw the film soon bought themselves red and yellow dresses in all designs.

    On July 12, 1986, the China Textile News published the article Yellow Skirts Prevail in Beijing about the roaring trade that Xidan night market stall holders were doing in yellow skirts. One claimed he could sell as many as 100 in one night.

    Puff-sleeved Princesses

    The puff-sleeved dresses popular in the 1980s resembled that worn in the Walt Disney animation of Snow White. This trend implied the common wish among young women to meet and marry handsome princes.

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