Hey everyone! I’m so sorry about how late this is since I promised this like… three weeks ago, but here’s a little outfit analysis of the rainbow pride outfit that I designed and posted a few pictures of last month!
Disclaimer: While I design the shapes, fabrics, and combinations of my hanfu designs, I do not sew any of my hanfu designs! This is due to the fact that I could not sew a straight line to sew my life. Instead I work with various small independent tailors, seamstresses and hanfu workshops.
THE BASIC STATS
I chose to make this set a Song Dynasty hanyuansu. Song style hanfu has long been known to be the most popular in the summer with its flowy and light layers, and me being in Taiwan for pretty much all of pride month meant that I needed to be able to stay cool in 37+ degrees while hanging around outside for pictures. The main modifications in this set are to the top piece, which is a 吊帶, or camisole, with straps.
This is a very simple three-piece set that gives all of its attention to the rainbow skirt. The three pieces include the camisole top diaodai (吊帶), the outer jacket beizi (褙子), the accessory pibo (披帛), and the pleated waist-high skirt (齊腰褶裙). I chose to make both the top pieces black to once again make the skirt the star of the show, and black goes with everything—and to some degree I feel like black is a pretty popular among the queer community! All three of these can be easily taken apart and worn individually. Let’s get into a bit more detail.
THE DIAODAI (吊帶）
This is the main part of the outfit that makes it technically hanyuansu, or modified from the original pattern of hanfu. The camisole is a very common piece you’ll see in Song style hanfu or hanyuansu. Its historically accurate counterpart would be the 宋抹 (song\ mo\) or Song Dynasty chest piece (抹 technically means wipe as a verb, in this case it’s because it’s tied across the chest so I’ll translate it as top). In terms of its pattern, it’s essentially a long rectangle of fabric that you tie around your torso at the chest, just like the skirts around your waist. They often feature a single fold or pleat in the center. The problem with these is that they have no straps, and the same problem with chest high ruqun happens with the songmo too—it slides down way too easily.
So I took the easy route out and just went with a diaodai which does have straps. At this point, most hanfu designers prefer diaodai camisoles to songmo—it’s generally agreed upon that they’re just more convenient if you’re not a stickler for historical accuracy, and if you’re wearing it out to a public place like me, especially on a hot day, it’s absolutely the better choice.
I chose an opaque black polyester fabric for this. It’s not the thinnest that you’d see on hanfu, and perhaps not as breathable as cotton or linen, but it was very smooth against the skin and didn’t make me overheat. The hardware on the straps for adjustability are white plastic because… ya girl broke, but they work perfectly fine. Sadly this fabric isn’t thick enough for me to wear without a bra underneath, but at least I stayed cool.
The pattern of this diaodai has a small fold in the center of the chest. Unfortunately I put the straps a little too far from each other so it doesn’t fit perfectly on my torso, but I’m still pretty satisfied with it—the straps are adjustable in length, which is really nice for my remarkably short torso, and the underarm is slightly curved down to allow for better arm movement. The back panel has a small elastic sewn into the top edge, and the sides have a very short loose slit up the edge before the front and back panels are sewn together. Everything else is pretty standard—single layered and very simple.
THE BEIZI (褙子)
I also kept the outer layer pretty simple. The beizi is a piece of hanfu that you’ll see through a lot of dynasties. In the Song Dynasty beizi were usually worn as formalwear, usually with the collar line and sleeves taped with decorative trim, but since we’ve already established that this is a set of hanyuansu, I took a lot of creative license to just keep it simple.
This beizi is made of simple black chiffon. Aside from the fact that chiffon is just the go-to fabric for most people’s hanfu, I wanted the beizi to be sheer because it was long enough to cover part of the skirt and give it a nice layering effect, but I still wanted the skirt to be able to show through. This was a very breathable and light fabric; it didn’t bother me much under the hot sun despite it being black and its shape did absolute WONDERS for my figure—the pictures don’t really do it justice but it probably cut my observed waist measurement in half.
In terms of the pattern, this was a pretty simple design. The sleeves are a little narrower than most beizi, but they were pretty standard straight sleeves (直袖) with a full length that went down to my knees, which I wanted for, once again, the layering effect with the skirt, since the skirt’s design was really bright and I wanted to tone it down a little. There are ties in the front for closing the beizi but I felt that it looks a lot better open. As usual with beizi designs the front and back pieces are separated with a slit up the sides.
THE PIBO (披帛)
This is just an accessory, but there was plenty of extra fabric to spare from the skirt so I decided to add a pibo to the outfit. Pibo are most famous for being used by ladies of the Tang Dynasty, almost every figure in ancient paintings adorned with one of these long scarf-like piece of fabric, but they were used up to the Song Dynasty until they were weighed down with ornaments and evolved into the xiapei. In this case it was just a little extra pop of color to bring the rainbow up to my torso because I felt like the color was too concentrated on the bottom half of my body.
I’ll talk more about the fabric and design later since it’s the same as the skirt, but this pibo has a total length of three meters—I doubled it on itself to keep it from dragging on the floor because it was so long. I also used it in this random little selfie photoshoot I did after coming home because it just felt fun to use it as a background around my face.
THE SKIRT (齊腰褶裙)
And we’re finally at the star of the show: the skirt! This is a very standard non-dynasty specific pleated skirt, with the standard wraparound design. The whole skirt is made of the same fabric, so no contrast in the skirt head/waistband or the ribbon, and it’s made with just a single layer. This was the centerpiece of the whole outfit, and made with a fabric that I hand-drew on my computer and had printed onto fabric.
Here’s a shrunk down picture of the design, which would have been a meter in width here. I incorporated the six rainbow colors of the pride flag into this design, muted down a little to make them a little easier on the eyes and with uneven edges, since I think flow and fluidity is part of what the queer community stands for, and a concept close to my heart as a gender fluid individual. I also ran some darker black lines through it just to bring some of the black from the diaodai and beizi into the skirt’s pattern for better cohesiveness.
I had about five meters of this printed onto a unique textured crepe fabric with silver threads woven in, adding a pop of light to the completed skirt. All five meters of this fabric went into the pleats of the skirt, so the resulting spin, although I didn’t get a video of it, was absolutely incredible. While I usually find metallic thread uncomfortable since I have sensitive skin, when I wore it the threads and the texture were basically unnoticeable even without an underskirt—even better, the texture meant that there was enough friction for it to stay in place really easily. Although this was chiffon, since the skirt was pleated, it turned out opaque.
The pleats on this skirt go all the way around as usual, with each pleat about 3cm wide. There is a hole in the skirt head for convenience of tying the skirt onto your body. Overall I’m extremely satisfied with this skirt, and its combination with the long black beizi makes for an impeccable slimming effect. I used the same fabric for the pibo to match.
REFLECTIONS ON THE OUTFIT
Fun fact: this is the first hanfu I ever designed! For a beginner I’d say I think this went pretty well—the results were way better than I imagined, and going out to the Ximending Rainbow Crossing, or Rainbow 6, in Taipei to take pictures on the last day of pride month was a really nice way to experience pride in my own way since I never get to go to pride parades at the end of June because I’m here for the summer.
I’m very happy with the cohesiveness of the design even if it’s quite simple and there were a couple very small issues with the fit. Thanks for reading about my journey through my first hanfu design—keep an eye out for more later! I'll continue to post outfit breakdowns for future hanfu sets designed by me~