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Your guide to traditional qipao dresses in Hong Kong

In the mood for nostalgia

Cara Hung
Written by
Cara Hung

Effortless, elegant, timeless and meticulously crafted, the qipao is an iconic Hong Kong piece. Often called cheongsam, which is a long-length dress style for women and men, the qipao specifically refers to the more figure-hugging version designed just for women. Its signature short sleeves, mandarin collar, side slits, impeccable tailoring and embroidered fabrics are known for enhancing a woman’s curves.

Whether you want to channel Su Li-zhen from In the Mood for Love or the qipao-wearing main characters of Eileen Chang’s books, join us as we visit three different qipao rental shops, reliving the glam and nostalgia of old Hong Kong. Translated by Mabel Lui. 

RECOMMENDED: If you love all-thing-retro, then you'll appreciate our roundup of Hong Kong's best vintage shops.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Clothing hire
  • Soho

Upon stepping into Yan Shang Kee, we’re immediately greeted by staff who politely ask us to remove our shoes. They also suggest that, before trying on the qipaos, we wipe the layer of sweat that invariably comes with walking the streets of Hong Kong in the heat of summer. It’s clear, though, that this shop prioritizes cleanliness and preserving the pristine condition of their garments. Given their painstaking commitment to creating their pieces, this extra care makes perfect sense. Thankfully, their changing rooms are fully stocked with tissues, wet wipes and even deodorant, so you can do what you gotta do.

Tai Kwun

Yan Shang Kee’s owner travelled to Japan to purchase the fabrics. These fabrics were then brought to a qipao-making master in Shanghai to be hand-crafted. Traditional cuts and silhouettes are given a modern twist with stretchy fabric, animated patterns, sheer lace detailing and more, subtly reinventing the classic qipao to suit contemporary tastes. $380 and up for the day (includes hairstyling). 

Available sizes: S-3XL
Look for: Cute patterns, vintage handbags
Photoshoot locations: Tai Kwun, Pottinger Street

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Clothing hire
  • Sheung Wan

A glimpse into years past, this shop unmistakably recalls the romanticism of In the Mood for Love. Under the warmth of a softly lit store, the leather couch and green walls exude an endearing old-school charm that, admittedly, makes us a little sentimental for a time we didn’t even know. In addition to the more mature, traditional styles, they also carry qipaos that play with shorter lengths, as well as ones with more abstract geometric designs and textiles.

Yue Po Chai

Sizes at this store go up to 5XL – extra props for catering to all sizes and shapes. Plus, the owner is incredibly eager, passionate and enthusiastic, taking that extra step of hospitality to make all her customers feel comfortable and beautiful. $368 and up for the day (includes hairstyling).

Available sizes: S-5XL
Look for: Japanese floral patterns, a wide range of sizes
Photoshoot locations: Yue Po Chai Antique Co., Square Street’s Graffiti Wall, Starbucks on Duddell Street

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Clothing hire
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

Having opened this past summer, Blooming Moment brings a fresh spin on the qipao-wearing experience. The interior of this shop is bright and welcoming, and its minimalist design allows the qipaos to take centre stage. The owner hand-selected the different fabrics for the garments before hiring a Shanghai master maker to breathe life to her designs.

House 1881

With its location in East Tsim Sha Tsui near Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferry Pier Blooming Moment is perfect if you’re looking for Insta-worthy shots by the waterfront. Qipao rental is available into the evening along with hair styling, so you can carry the 1900s Hong Kong glamour with you into the night. $380 and up for the day (includes hairstyling). 

Available sizes: S-XL
Look for: Qipao in a blue and white porcelain pattern
Nearby photoshoot locations: House 1881, Star Ferry

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