Home History & Culture History of Traditional Chinese Suit – Zhongshan Suit

History of Traditional Chinese Suit – Zhongshan Suit

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History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit
Zhongshan suit, for many men, is a feeling and yearning. The new Chinese suit, which combines tradition with fashion, is more popular with political and business elites.

Zhongshan suit (Chinese tunic suit) is also called the Mao suit, is designed by Sun Yat-sen on the basis of a widely absorbing Western-style suit and integrating the characteristics of Japanese student clothing and Chinese clothing. Zhongshan suit has four pockets, five big central buttons in the front, and three smaller buttons on each sleeve. It was very popular in the Republic of China (1911-1949).

In April 1929, the Zhongshan suit was promulgated as a legal uniform by the national government. Since the 1950s, Zhongshan suit has become a formal costume from the state leaders to ordinary people.

After the founding of the people’s Republic of China, due to the shortage of materials and manpower, some simplification and improvement have been made to the traditional Zhongshan suit, which has been popularized nationwide. Mao Zedong (the founder of the People’s Republic of China) often wears for important activities, so the Zhongshan suit is also known as the Mao suit.

History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit
Mao Zedong and Mao suit

The significance of Zhongshan suit

Sun Yat-Sen also gave this Chinese suit very important meaning.
  • The one-piece suit represents the unification of China;
  • The turn-down closed collar, showing the strict and meticulous concept of governing the country;
  • Two pockets (similar to the inverted penholder shape) imply the prosperity of the country with cultural power;
  • Three smaller cufflinks on both sleeves, representing “the Three People’s Principles” (Nationalism, Democracy, and the People’s livelihood, put forward by Sun Yat-sen.)
  • Four pockets of Zhongshan suit represent four good qualities (courtesy, righteousness, honesty, and shame.)
  • The five larger buttons symbolize the independence of the five powers (administration, legislation, jurisdiction, review, and supervision.)
History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit
Chinese suit – Zhongshan suit

Style of Zhongshan suit:

The style of the Zhongshan suit was basically formed in the early 1920s. Since the 1920s, although there have been individual changes in the style of Zhongshan suit, the overall change is not big. The main change is to change seven buckles to five buckles; remove the belt & slit at the back; the upper pocket with pleated patch pockets is changed to flat patch pockets.

History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit
Xi Jinping and the Chinese tunic suit

Features of Zhongshan suit:

Zhongshan suit has many advantages, mainly including balanced and symmetrical shape, generous appearance, elegant and stable wearing, convenient activities, also highlights men’s calm, which can be used as both formal dress and casual dress.

The color of the improved Zhongshan suit is very rich, in addition to the common black, white and gray, there is the camel, white and blue and so on. On different occasions, the choice of color is not the same. The color of the Zhongshan suit used for formal dress should be solemn, and the color can be bright and lively when it is used for casual dress.

If it’s not a special formal occasion, Zhongshan suit can be matched with a light-colored shirt, and the shirt collar can be exposed with some white, but not too much.

When wearing, we should pay attention to that the meaning conveyed by Zhongshan suit is consistent with its ecological degree.

History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit

The revival of Chinese suit

The revival of the Zhongshan suit is attributed to famous movie stars and artists. In every large-scale event, Jackie Chan, the international movie star, always appears in front of the media and audience with a Zhongshan suit, and greatly promotes the Chinese suit culture on the international stage. Director Zhang Yimou also loves the Zhongshan suit. He often wears a black Zhongshan suit to appear in major film festivals around the world. Liu Dehua, the singer, often dressed in black, white and gray Chinese suit, sang on stage. With his handsome appearance, he wore the fashion and sense of the times of Zhongshan suit.

History of Traditional Chinese Suit - Zhongshan Suit
Liu Dehua and Chinese suit

In recent years, the improved Chinese suit has become more popular, which weakens the restriction on the wearer. This is a breakthrough to the traditional Zhongshan suit, and it is also the focus of the fashion industry.

Many successful people like to wear white or beige Zhongshan suits and attend large-scale business activities, which is stable and stylish.

There are many traditional costumes in China. Nowadays, people pay more and more attention to cultural life. These costumes are endowed with more significance and inject new vitality. Traditional culture is better preserved and displayed in rich forms.

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