Friday, March 13, 2009

Cross-Ethnic Dressing in Kimonos and Qi Pao

One sure way to stand out in a crowd is to be different. And even though it doesn't happen very often anymore among high-profile celebs these days (Paris Hilton did it in 2007), dressing ethically different is fun and exciting!! Personally, I've been dreaming of a chance to wear traditional dresses from different cultures to parties. The Indian sari is extremely beautiful and soft, however, it does require me to expose my tummy, and I easily catch a cold when I do that. The Korean hanbok is also amazing and makes people looks like a princess any day, but I must admit I'm scared of wearing it. Why? Well, the hanbok just doesn't look good on anyone...Korean stars have great posture, and their faces are so well-structured and radiant. I may simply look like a slouching pregnant woman, lost in all the cloth of a hanbok.

Now, I'm aiming to wear a Japanese kimono, which is really expensive! A summer yukata will also satisfy me. Plus, they are cheap as you can get them at Uniqlo around $50 USD. However, chibi convinced me that I will not have any occasion to wear it as we will not be going to any summer festivals in Japan. As an alternative, I am now looking for a party-ready kimono to wear.

Pale Golden Flourish Japanese Style KimonoRed and Golden Flourishing Japanese Style Kimono

This "kimono" is not entirely traditional as you do not have that many complex steps like wrapping the sash/"obi" meticulously around your body. This means it's more fail-safe, a good thing! I am actually really torn about the colors. Gold is easy to wear, but red is so stunning. What do you think?

Ok. So, I've already worn a Malay/Indonesian sarong, Chinese Qi Pao, and Scottish kilt. And there are actually four Qi Paos in my closet. One of them was given to me by my grandmother when I was 15. It was a sleeveless black satin knee-length Qi Pao, my favorite one to this day. Another yellow brocade Qi pao was given to my by my aunt, who is bigger than me. My mom gave me one last year that looks way too "villagey". Finally, my dad bought my mom a peach-colored flower-patterned minidress Qi Pao from Shanghai Tang a few years ago that got passed on to me. Among the four, the Shanghai Tang one is the only one that I could wear, and I happily wore that to an event recently =). However, I've been looking for a black satiny Qi Pao ever since my grandmother gave me her beautiful dress. Although black is not a color that brings fortune in the Chinese culture, I do think black Qi Paos are the coolest and easiest to wear (without looking like a waitress at a chinese restaurant).

This dress is full-length, but so gorgeous I had to post it. The red trims make the dress pop, drawing attention to the face and the legs, and it is not as overwhelming as having a full-on red Qi Pao. If you've seen Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman, you should remember her in full-length red Qi Pao with a satiny finish. Honestly, I thought Kirsten should have worn a better bra in that Qi Pao. Her boobs look somewhat saggy and lopsided, which is terrible for the nice Qi Pao she has on. I also don't understand why she or her wardrobe people chose red for her. Her hair is already so red!! It would be better to find something that didn't fight with the attention to her beautiful hair, face, and blue eyes.

The danger of dressing in the traditional costumes of different cultures is that it is going to stand out a lot and you need to feel comfortable with that. You can treat it like a very unique cocktail dress, a topic for conversation, or a good way to draw people's attention to your body's qualities. My friend, S.K., wore a Qi Pao inspired top for my Halloween Party last year, and I loved how it showcased her very thin frame (which is usually scary instead of sexy...Sorry, SK!). Anyway, I couldn't keep my eyes off her waist that night...hahaa. If you are afraid of going traditional, still keep your mind open for modern pieces inspired by tradition.

Charming Black Phoenix Silk Dress

This is simply a black dress influenced by the Chinese culture, and aside from the easy-to-wear color and length of the dress, it is also one-shouldered, a huge trend right now! The phoenix is a symbol of good luck and power and only queens used to wear it. Click on the picture for better details.

If you are adventurous, why not show it by wearing something electrifying like this knee-length dress? Personally, I would like to see Vanessa Hudgens wear it. Since it is not full-length, you'll look younger in this dress than the black classical cheongsam. If you want something red like Paris and Kirsten, this Peacock dress is a good choice too.

Note the number of colors actually used in this red peacock dress. The yellow trimmings outlines the dress while the pink softens it and the blue (of the peacock) makes it pop. It is a great dress because it is not one-dimensional the way many Chinese restaurant uniforms are. Lastly, I would like to see Jessica Alba wear this Precious Rose Silk Dress below.

Precious Rose Silk Dress

Firstly, I've never see Jessica Alba wear anything of that collar. Will the high collar make her neck disappear? And will the long dress make her look longer or make us painfully aware of her short height? Secondly, her figure would make the dress look AMAZING. I am really looking forward to seeing that! Thirdly, Jessica Alba likes to wear soft colors, and when she does that, her face glows. I am simply curious whether she will look as good in the stark contrast of the white and rose in this dress. Very curious indeed. Anyway, if not Jessica Alba, at least Anne Hathaway should do it. She has the height, the figure, and the brunette hair. =P

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