This post answers what to wear for Chinese New Year invitation and shows photos for inspiration from such celebrations in Fairbanks. January 22, 2023 starts the Chinese zodiac year of the rabbit. Your zodiac year is the year you were born in. In honor of the New Lunar Year, this post presents the cheongsams (also called qipao), and other traditional outfits.
- What to Wear for Chinese New Year?
- Which Shoes and Hair Dos Go with a Cheongsam?
- Where to Find a Cheongsam, Hanfu or Tang Suit?
- Chinese New Year Festivities Organized by UAF Students had a Tradition
- A Culturally Diverse Audience
Disclosure: The post contains affiliate links.
Go for the traditional red, if possible. This color is the best for the occasion because it is associated with luck, happiness, passion, and scaring away spirits of bad fortune in the Chinese culture. In your zodiac year, red is an especially lucky color for you. On the contrary, black and white stand for unlucky and negative, for which you should avoid these colors. But there is no need to wear red. Today many Chinese also go for bright colors.
Traditionally, people wear a new qipao or Tang suit (aka as tangzhuang). Note that the new tangzhuang combines the riding jacket from the Qing dynasty and the Western suit. Why new clothing? Because new clothes symbolize new beginnings. However, for a party outside of China, western clothing in red, festive garments or re-wearing last year’s cheongsam are fine too, especially, for guests of other Nationality. See the outfit inspirations at the end of the post.
Accessorize with something old, read family heirlooms because the Chinese New Year typically is a sort of family reunion. It symbolizes honoring those close to you and your ancestors.
Tip: Avoid wearing clothing of your own Nationality because many Chinese outside of China feel uncomfortable with it, or at least ask the host whether they would feel offended.
Black, red or nude shoes look nice with the cheongsam. However, you can also try a color of the embroidery or print.
Picking up a color of the cheongsam with patent leather pumps or nude patent leather pumps or gold are chic options.
To show off the Mandarin collar, go with a ballerina-inspired up do when you have long hair. See the outfit inspiration below for how to style floral print clothing.
Important: Never use chop sticks for a hair do!
When you want to go for traditional clothes here are some suggestions from where to start shopping for them.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Chinese Student Association and their adviser Rosalind Khan have organized a Chinese New Year party every year prior to COVID-19. They always have invited the Fairbanks community to the party. Many Chinese business owners in the Fairbanks metropolitan area (sounds big, but it is just Fairbanks population 32324, North Pole 2214 and Fox 417) have supported the celebration by donating door prices, candies, beverages, and the food.
Typically, the program starts with the buffet dinner followed by entertainment with Chinese music, martial arts performances, little sketches presented in either Chinese or English, a fashion show presenting Chinese traditional clothing, educational pieces about the Chinese culture, songs, dances, etc. The entertainment part, starts with kids performing two dances, and wishing the adults a Happy New Year. In return, they get little red envelops with money and a fruit following Chinese tradition.
The entertainment is moderated by a MC of the UAF Chinese student club in both languages.
All items on the catwalk stem from Fairbanks’ closets. People provide their items for the models to show off. While traditionally black and white are No-Nos, the young generation wears what they want.
Enjoy the movie with the highlights of the fashion shows of traditional looks.
Typically, the event starts with a delicious Chinese buffet prepared by one of the local Chinese restaurants in Fairbanks. The buffet encompasses Asian-style cooked fish, various dishes with beef, pork or chicken, chicken kebab, vegetables delight, a variety of filled dumplings, flour dumplings, white rice, fried rice and fried noodles as well as desserts.
An employee from the Chinese embassy in San Francisco, the Chancellor and his wife, and the Chinese and American Kung Fu champion were among the special guests.
I am not good at estimating how many people were there. Assuming the ticket numbers started with 1 and no number was left out, there must have been over 400 people prior to COVID.
Since there was no dress code on the tickets or event fliers, Fairbanksans did showed up in what ever they wanted. Therefore, you could see the dressed-up woman in a cocktail dress sitting side-by-side with someone who was dressed as if they had mushed with their dog team to the event. However, many women and little kids wore traditional outfits. Only few men did so.
The audience is culturally quite diverse because Fairbanks has many immigrants from all over the world. Faibanksans celebrate cultural diversity and they are interested in each other’s traditions and culture.
The photos below are snap shots from past events illustrating the diversity of the audience and what they wore. More on Fairbanks’ cultural diversity. Therefore, expect a mix of people in ethnic clothes, Fairbanks formal dress code, and cool street chic.
When there is a celebration, many Fairbanksans dress up in festive attire or at least go with the vibe of the event, while trying to protect themselves from the cold. This compromise and/or balancing act between dressing up and staying warm makes for a unique streetstyle as is documented in the photos.
When the outfit requires bare legs, for instance, when dressing for a ball in winter, real Fairbanks fashionistas will probably throw some down pants over when going home.
Learn more about how to have iconic street style.
Happy Chinese New Year.
Photos of the models and me: G. Kramm
Other photos: N. Mölders
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