The Republic of China is a relatively special period in China’s history, although it lasted only 38 years, it was the most complex and turbulent. As a prominent representative of “replacing the old with the new”, the Republic of China is particularly prominent in this regard. From politics, economy, culture to national life, almost all have undergone unprecedented and dramatic changes.
During the existence of the Republic of China from 1912 to 1949, all aspects of society participated in this change. The political system, cultural form, ideology, clothing concept, etc., have all undergone unprecedented earth-shaking innovations.
The most prominent feature of this vigorous innovation activity is that it has been accompanied by war, revolution, political and social system changes.
It can be said that the common people living during the Republic of China deeply experienced the changes in social life and cultural concepts. Among the changes in this series, the most impactful is the change of clothing culture, from the traditional clothing form of “top and bottom” to the concept of clothing full of innovation and modern elements.
In just a few decades of vicissitudes, the thousand-year-old “clothing system” of traditional clothing was ended. And completed the “gorgeous turn” from classical to modern, from Chinese to Western.
From this perspective, it can be seen that although the Republic of China has only a history of 38 years, it has concentrated on completing the historical process of replacing the old with the new and Westernizing development.
However, it is worth noting that during the Republican period, although the clothing culture of men and women underwent very huge changes. However, compared with women’s clothing culture, men’s clothing has huge differences in connotation, culture and style in terms of change methods, appearance, and form.
In short, in the process of adapting to the changes of the times, men’s clothing during the Republic of China also produced a clothing culture with its own characteristics. The outstanding performance of this clothing culture is that although it borrows from Western men’s clothing elements, it retains the clothing elements with Chinese meaning, and the “long coat and horse coat” is one of the most playful Republican men’s clothing standards.
The iconic costume of the male god of the Republic of China “long robe horse coat”
From the appearance and matching point of view, the men’s clothing of the Republic of China has both completely westernized suits and horse coats that retain the traditional charm. For many men who have studied abroad or gone to college, their clothing is mainly suits, bow ties, ties, leather shoes, of course, with a Western-style hat will look more foreign.
In fact, the cultural changes in men’s clothing during the Republic of China mainly reflected changes in aesthetic orientation and thinking consciousness. Of course, it also highlights the characteristics of the times in terms of lifestyle and values.
The author believes that the cultural characteristics of men’s clothing in the Republic of China are actually a profound imprint left by the changes of the times.
“Long coats”, top hats, and leather shoes not only reflect the connotation of Chinese clothing, but also embellish Western clothing elements. It is no exaggeration to say that the clothing matching of men in the Republic of China not only inherits and develops traditional clothing, but also has a transition close to Western ideas and humanistic concepts
From the historical events of King Zhao Wuling’s “Hufu riding and shooting”, it is not difficult to see that “changing clothes and changing systems” not only requires great determination, but also is a prominent representative of the period of great social change.
The Republic of China was established on the ruins of the overthrow of the feudal rule of the Qing Dynasty, and at the same time it was greatly impacted by modern Western thought, which was actually the fundamental reason for the “change of service and easy system” at that time.
1. The male gods of the Republic of China are standard costumes, long shirts and horse coats
Long robes, horse coats, top hats, and leather shoes were the standard for men’s clothing during the Republican period. In addition to the top hat and leather shoes, which are imported products, the clothing of tunics and horse coats has a history of more than a thousand years.
Although many people have the impression that the long robe was a common dress for men during the Qing Dynasty, in fact, this form of men’s clothing was actually a relatively common clothing during the Ming Dynasty.
(1) The robe is the “Taoist robe” of the Ming Dynasty
According to historical records, long gowns are also known as long gowns or Chinese long robes, and this type of men’s clothing has appeared as early as the Ming Dynasty. And it is the home clothing of the Ming Dynasty scholar group, and the appearance is a little similar to the “Taoist robe” shape. However, colors and accessories are more flexible, especially in terms of clothing materials and concepts.
The long robe or “Taoist robe” of the Ming Dynasty is large in shape, the cut is very flowing and free, and the collar design also gives people an ancient style color that condenses thousands of years of history.
However, the long clothes of the Republic of China period changed the impression of fat, and the design was mainly tailored according to the individual body shape, and followed the three-dimensional clothing style of the shoulders and back, and the waist line followed the body.
(2) The costume of the Republic of China robe
At the same time, the collar was changed into a neater looking round neck, and the length is basically above the ankle and the middle and lower calf. The placket is more three-dimensional in the form of a right-hand placket, and has one or both sides of the slit at the hem. Compared with the “Taoist robe” of the Ming Dynasty scholars, the body is tighter, and the cuffs are mainly narrow sleeves, without horseshoe sleeves.
The length of the sleeves is generally level according to the length of the sleeves of the horse coat, and when worn on the body, it not only fits better but also reflects the charm of the male figure. Of course, the length of the tunic can also be up to the heel, but for people with relatively short individuals, this length of the tunic is actually not suitable. Therefore, only tall people wearing long robes will be more tall and handsome.
(3) The long robe is a common dress during the Republic of China
The long robe of the Republic of China period can be used as both a regular dress and a formal dress, and the author believes that if you analyze it in essence, you can find that the long robe is actually a branch of the robe. The robe is divided into cotton and clip, in short, the single is a long robe, and the double layer is a jacket. That is to say, long robes are worn in spring, summer and autumn, and cotton robes are worn in the colder winters.
In addition to borrowing the “Taoist robe” shape of the Ming Dynasty, the long robe actually followed the concept of seeing the uniform of the Qing Dynasty and improved it. During the Qing Dynasty, long robes were the regular clothes of Qing officials, especially in the late Qing Dynasty, long robes were also used as regular dresses by male groups.
Especially in the Republican period, long robes were more popular among men, whether it was officials and businessmen, literati or politicians, basically wearing a long robe as daily clothing.
(4) The meaning of the “long robe” that men in the Republic of China often wear
The tunic not only follows the style and cultural connotation of Han male clothing in the Ming Dynasty, but also borrows the cultural characteristics of Manchu clothing. This kind of men’s clothing with national charm not only pays great attention to the appearance of the clothing fabric itself, but also relies on flat decorative expression. If analyzed from the cultural connotation, it is in line with the humanistic concept of “the unity of heaven and man”.
As a kind of clothing that can best represent the characteristics of men’s clothing in the Republic of China, under the surface culture of men’s clothing, there are actually deeper cultural laws implied. It is no exaggeration to say that the long shirt uses clothing as the medium, in fact, what it wants to reflect is the unity and integration of culture.
After the integration of Han, Manchu and Western cultures, the iconic costume of Republican men, long shirts and horse coats, was recorded in history. It can be said that the cultural characteristics embodied in the long robe and horse coat are not simply the clothing culture of the Republic of China, but a cultural manifestation after the combination of China and the West.
The author believes that the Republic of China men’s long shirt and horse coat not only inherited, but also the ancient traditional clothing system and the profound meaning of Chinese clothing culture. At the same time, it also shows the collision and integration of Chinese culture and Western culture. Although the long robe belongs to the regular clothes of the Ming Dynasty scholars, and the horse coat is the daily civilian clothing of the Qing Dynasty, the slim and three-dimensional concept in the design and tailoring of the long robe is a complete Western clothing cultural concept.
The cultural connotation of “long robe” often worn by men in the Republic of China
1. The collision of ideas and culture of “long coats”
As the standard clothing of many men during the Republic of China, long robes did not suddenly appear in the tailor shop of the Republic of China overnight. I believe everyone knows that the society during the Republic of China period was very chaotic, and the old and young of the Qing Dynasty, Westernized students studying abroad, and expatriates from various countries all gathered in the society at that time.
It is no exaggeration to say that if you are lucky enough to cross to the Republic of China, you will find pedestrians in a hurry on the street, as if they are a hodgepodge of different eras, regions and cultures.
There are Qing dynasty remnants who wear Qing Dynasty civilian clothes to nostalgia for their homeland; There are also fashion pioneers in suits and top hats; There are also yellow-haired, blue-eyed, white-skinned “foreigners”.
But the most eye-catching in the bustling crowd are the male gods of the Republic of China dressed in long robes, horse coats, top hats, leather shoes, and a “civilization stick” in their hands. These people basically have a good family lineage and high knowledge, and they can not only speak well but also come up with a few foreign words in their speech and behavior.
The author believes that from this perspective to analyze the Republican men in long robes and horse coats, it is not difficult to find that their hearts have both nostalgia for the past and curiosity and desire for new things. Many of the Republican writers in everyone’s impression are actually male gods in long robes and horse coats.
2. The cultural connotation of “long robe” clothing
If you analyze “long clothes” from the perspective of cultural connotation, in fact, this kind of clothing is a variant after the integration of multiple cultures. In the process of integrating various cultures, there are both exclusions and compromises, and the appearance of the tunic is a kind of Chinese men’s clothing. But its tailoring concept and design thinking are full of Western flavor.
It is no exaggeration to say that the kaftan as the most representative national costume of Chinese men during the Republic of China can be described as popular throughout the country around the 30s of the 20th century. And with the two strong opponents of Zhongshan clothing and suits, it has formed a “three-legged” clothing culture situation. The fundamental reason for this situation is the intermingling of ideas and cultures.
You can imagine the Manchu Qing Dynasty, which existed for hundreds of years, although it collapsed after the cannon of the Xinhai Revolution. However, the unique cultural heritage and customs spirit it has formed cannot collapse in an instant like the political system. Therefore, many ideas in the Republic of China period still have the shadow of the Qing Dynasty.
Although many new ideas were produced during the Republican period, coupled with the continuous import of Western cultural consciousness, the phenomenon of merging old and new ideas among people living at that time appeared. But many ordinary people who have not received education, or who still have nostalgia for the Qing Dynasty, are still unable to accept suits or other “dresses”.
Therefore, in the minds of the people of the Republic of China, Chinese-style clothing is still their daily home clothing. Of course, from another point of view, not everyone can afford to wear “dresses”, so the fusion of Chinese and Western clothing culture and improved kaftans has become the most popular clothing style for ordinary people. Even in political and business circles and cultural circles, kaftans are still very popular.
The author believes that the long coat not only reflects the confrontation and integration of ideas, culture and customs, but also reflects the physical beauty of unique oriental charm after being embellished with Western clothing elements. At the same time, it can also reflect the elegance and intellectuality of men during the Republic of China.
The standard clothing for men during the Republic of China period not only reflects the cultural innovation of clothing during the period of social change, but also highlights the continuation and development of the ancient Chinese clothing system. If the cheongsam is the pinnacle of China’s modern clothing culture history, then the men’s robe clothing culture of the Republic of China is the precursor and enlightenment of modern men’s clothing.
The author believes that the interpretation of the Republic of China long gown clothing culture can actually be used as an important basis for today’s Chinese men’s wear culture, so it is actually of great research value from this perspective. Although most of the men’s clothing in modern society is mainly based on Western concepts, the rise of Chinese-style clothing in recent years also has a trend of regression.
Yao Suisian, “Research on the Structure and Craft of the Long Garment of the Republic of China”
Wang Kai’s “Republic of China Style” in the Cheongsam
Xue Yan “On the Difference between Women’s Cheongsam and Long Clothes in the Republic of China”
Jiang Lingjun’s “Long Robe, Cheongsam, Zhongshan Costume ——— Trial on the Investigation of China’s National Uniform”
Why is a horse coat robe the standard for the male gods of the Republic of China? The intellectuality and elegance of such a dress are unobstructed