In Ancient China, clothing symbolized status and profession. The rich and poor dressed quite differently. In early China, poor people made their clothes out of hemp or ramie while rich people wore silk. There were many rules about who could wear what. Only the Emperor was allowed to wear yellow and during the Sui Dynasty the poor could only wear blue or black. The colour of clothing also symbolized emotion. White was worn when mourning and red was worn to show joy and happiness. Red was also worn by the bride at a wedding.
During the Yuan Dynasty the Mongols invaded and brought cotton into China which was popular with the poor as it was cheaper. Ancient Chinese fashion consisted mostly of loose-fitted robes. Women wore tunics that reached the ground and men wore tunics that reached their knees. Sleeves were long and loose-fitting and sashes were worn as ornamentation and to hold clothing together. Darker shades of clothing were preferred over light ones. Light colours were mostly worn by common people. The original Ancient Chinese clothing was referred to as the Han Chinese clothing.
The outfit was called the Hanfu which underwent a lot of modifications throughout the different Dynasties. Primarily there were three variations of Ancient Chinese garments; the Pien-fu, the Ch'ang P'ao and the Shenyi. The Pien-fu was a two piece ceremonial costume consisting of a tunic top extending to the knees, and worn with ankle length skirt or trousers. The Ch'ang P'ao was a one piece ankle length tunic dress. The Shenyi was a two piece top and trouser/skirt outfit that was been cut separately and sewn to make a one piece garment. The Shang Dynasty created the fundamentals of the Hanfu. The Hanfu was made up of a knee length tunic tied with a sash, narrow cuffs called a yi, a narrow knee length skirt called a Shang and was accompanied by a long piece of fabric that reached the knees called a bixi.
The higher the rank the better the clothes they wore were. This included the length of a skirt, the wideness of a sleeve and the amount of ornamentation. Fashion was mostly unisex and uncomplicatedly cut. As the dynasties changed , gender specifically came into the Shenyi. During the Winter months people wore padded jackets over their tunics.
A complete Hanfu garment:
Yi: any open cross collar garment (unisex)
Pao: any close body garment worn by men
Ru: open cross collar shirt
Shan: open cross collar shirt or jacket that is worn over the Yi
Qun: (or Chang) skirt for women or men
Ku: trousers or pants
Bixi: a knee-length piece of fabric attached to the front of the sash