CHEONGSAM is a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for Women. The male version is the CHANGSHAN. It is known in Mandarin Chinese as the QIPAO and is also known in English as a MANDARIN GOWN. The stylish and often tight-fitting Cheongsam, that is best known today was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and made fashionable by socialites and upper-class women.
The English ‘loanword’ cheongsam comes from CHEUHNGSAAM, the Cantonese pronunciation of the Shanghainese term ZANZE, by which the original tight-fitting form was first known. In Hong Kong, where many Shanghai tailors fled to after the Communist Revolution in China, the word CHEUHNGSAAM may refer to either male or female garments.
Traditionally, usage in western countries mostly followed the original Shanghainese usage and applies the Cantonese-language name CHEONGSAM to a garment worn by women. The original CHEONGSAM was wide and loose and covered most of the woman’s body, revealing only the head, hands and tips of toes. With time, the Cheongsam were tailored to become more form-fitting and revealing. As western fashions changed, the basic Cheongsam design changed, too, introducing high-necked sleeveless dresses, bell-like sleeves and the black lace frothing at the hem of the ball gown. Cheongsam were replaced by more comfortable clothing such as jeans, sweaters, business suits and skirts. Due to its restrictive nature, it is now mainly worn as FORMAL WEAR for important occasions. Today, Cheongsam are only commonly worn day-to-day by some people —-restaurant hostesses and serving staff at luxury hotels, for instance, as uniform.
The CHEONGSAM is also known as QIPAO and is the garment for women. The male version is known as CHANGSHAN or CHANGPAO. The CHANGSHAN are traditionally worn in pictures, weddings and other formal events. A black CHANGSHAN, along with a rounded black hat, was, and sometimes still is , the burial attire for Chinese men.