In my last article, I introduced ways to wear hanfu in your daily outfits, featuring various ways to mix and match hanfu pieces and hanyuansu with everyday clothing. But there are so many of us out there without the means to buy an actual set of hanfu, or have to wait a month or two to get them. In the meantime, why not try out the aesthetic by using these essential pieces of clothing in your outfits?
1. PLEATED TENNIS SKIRT
Especially great for the summer, pleated skirts, especially tennis skirts, have been very trendy lately and do a great job of mimicking the baizhe qun, or hundred-fold skirt, in a lot of usual hanfu outfits, just at a shorter length that’s easier to walk around in.
Some pleated skirts have shorts underneath, which can help if you need to move around a lot, and others even have pockets and belt loops, which you can hang a waist ornament or pouch from as decoration. Layer skin-colored tights underneath in the fall or winter for a fun, youthful look.
2. ACCORDION MAXI SKIRT
This is a great alternative for hundred-pleat skirts as well, since they’re longer and mimic the feel of a hanfu skirt more closely but remain light and easy to move around in. Try a polyester or silk mix with a little shimmer to it to mimic the patterns usually found on mamian quns (horse-face skirts). Plain colors usually work the best, but fabrics with an all-over pattern, like small flowers or graphic motifs, can also add a modern flair to your outfit! These are also a great option for the winter, since they’re long.
3. WIDELEG PANTS
Flowy culottes or wideleg pants are perfect for those who value a little more mobility or don’t like skirts and dresses too much! You can pair these with pretty much anything, they offer a very classy silhouette that can be combined with hanfu tops for a professional look with a hint of ancient beauty. They’re also insanely comfortable in my experience, and can mimic the flowy pants from the Song dynasty.
1. TANK TOP/TUBE TOP
Often women in the Tang dynasty would show off their version of a bra under sheer clothing or nothing at all—they look very similar to tank tops and tube tops that we have these days! Try a tank or tube top with a line of buttons down the front of you want to stay a little closer to tradition, or experiment with other forms of tank and tube tops if you’d like.
This is a great option for the summer when layers upon layers of massive sleeves aren’t really an option. Layering a single wide-sleeve jacket over a tank top will often add a unique touch to the outfit without being too hot.
2. OPEN CARDIGAN
Obviously, it’s not always summer, and open cardigans are a great way to make your outfit warmer without looking too bulky. Look for longer varieties of solid-color open cardigans that are looser around the arms and a bit slouchy and oversized to achieve the best aesthetic. You can layer these over a simple t-shirt or a tank or tube top as mentioned above during colder months.
3. Bell-Sleeve Jackets
These might be a bit harder to find, but trust me, they’re out there! Look for flared or belled sleeves on solid jackets, whether thin or thick. The flared silhouette will give you a feel of daxiushan or other wide sleeves while still being easy to move around in, with the added bonus of being a little warmer.
The other perk of wide sleeved jackets is that, in the winter, you can layer them over sweaters without it looking too bulky, or even over another cardigan—you’ll still end up with a beautiful silhouette reminiscent of hanfu sleeves!
1. Hair Accessories
Hair accessories are an integral part of hanfu. Women and men alike wore their hair up in the ancient times, and there were a lot of hair accessories that they used to keep it up. Hair sticks and pins are the best for this, but if you can’t get your hands on one, any sort of stick-shaped thing (a pencil, a chopstick, literally anything) will work to keep your hair in a bun!
Even if you don’t keep your hair up, or don’t have enough hair to pull up into a bun, try a hair clip or bow to decorate your temples or braids. Even a decorative claw clip, which is very popular these days, or a barrette can be enough to add a little something to your look. Look for rhinestones or small metal details on your hair accessories, especially flowers. You can also make a makeshift hair ribbon by taking a ribbon and tying it around a normal hair elastic!
There are a great variety of shoes out there, bu some look closer to the ones worn historically than others. Even with the variation in footwear over thousands of years, there are a few themes that run clear.
Black angle or calf length boots, for example, are a very popular option, and flats or kitten heels with either square or pointed toes can mimic the toe shape of ancient shoes. In the summer, neutral colored single-strap sandals are comfortable and simple options that mimic the Jin dynasty’s wooden clogs.
3. Tights and Skintight Tops
This is less of an outfit piece and more of a handy trick for colder months—usually hanfu that you can buy these days is pretty loose and thin. If you live anywhere with actual seasons, you’ll probably find it a bit difficult to wear flowy skirts in the winter. The solution? Fleece-lined tights and thermal tops! They’re skintight and won’t mess up your silhouette, but can provide a surprisingly hefty layer of warmth to keep you from freezing while still looking beautiful.
Pair any of these top/bottom sets and accessories together, and you should have yourself an outfit! Even if you do have some hanfu sets, you can also mix and match pieces from those with other items in your closet. Do put more ideas in the comments if you have any, I’ve heard of so many people who want to participate in the hanfu movement but can’t get their hands on many full sets because of price, location, or time, and this is a great alternative!
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