Typical Dress in China and America

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Typical Dress in China and America

- On Sun Yat-Sen Suit and Jeans
Name: Liu Mingyue

School: Henan Normal University

E-mail: 2367114202@qq.com

Phone Number: 15238167624


Dress culture is not only a way to show fashion, also it is a way to express the different inner world of people. In this paper, we will talk about typical dress in China and American, Sun Yat-Sen Suit and Jeans. From the perspective of their history, different connotations of the design principle, and their popularity, we would like to take you to sense the charm of different dress culture. They all have their own unique features, and whatever kinds of dress you choose the key point lies in you mind. Because what fits you better would be the best one.

Key Words: Dress culture; Sun Yat-Sen Suit; Jeans; History; Connotation; Popularity

1. Introduction

Dress culture is not a single part of a nation, it has deep historical and social background. Also it can reflect the awareness and spirit of the people in China and America. As far as I am concerned, I feel great interest in this field, and I want to know more about the dress in other countries, particularly in America. Through this project I want to achieve the following objectives:  Remind people of the traditional dress in China and America.  Educate people on the connotation of the design principle, including the color and material of traditional dress. Expose the culture differences in dress, and find the most optimal and balanced point between the two nations. Every nation has its own unique features, and preserving each nation’s uniqueness is important. In addition, we should help people realize the importance and benefits of these differences. By doing so, we can learn from each other and finally seek collaboration and peace.

2. History of Sun Yat-Sen Suit and Jeans

2.1 History of Sun Yat-Sen Suit

Sun Yat-sen suit, formal Chinese attire for men, has soared after President Xi Jinping wore it to a state banquet hosted by the Dutch royal family on March 22. After the 1911 Revolution, Sun Yat-sen  felt that the Chinese people needed a new style to match their new found freedom. He asked tailors to make a new suit based on his own design. With buttons down the front, a turned-down collar and four symmetrical pockets, the suit was dubbed the “Sun Yat-sen suit”in 1925 after Sun’s death.

2.2 History of Jeans

The word ‘jeans’ comes from a kind of material that was made in Europe. The material, called jean, was named after sailors from Genoa in Italy, because they wore clothes made from it. The history of blue jeans usually began with a man named Levi Strauss. He did not invent jeans. But he is the first person to produce and sell them in large numbers. Levi Strauss was born in Germany. In 1847, he and his family moved to the United States. He opened a small store and sold jeans. These pants were especially useful for miners in California. They needed strong clothing. Levi Strauss worked with Jacob Davis, who had invented a step for making rivets for jeans. They helped make the blue jeans stronger. In 1873, Strauss and Davis received a patent to own this invention. In nineteenth century workers would probably be surprised to know that their pants would one day become fashions. Today, jeans are worn by people of all ages. Jeans come in many colors other than blue and in many styles and prices. Fashion designers even create very costly jeans.

3. Different Connotations of Design Principle

3.1 Connotations of Design Principle of Sun Yat-Sen Suit

In China, the Sun Yat-sen suit has long been a symbol of progress and revolutionary spirit. After China’s reform and opening up, Western-style suits and jeans became popular, but Sun Yat-sen suits are still worn by many Chinese on special occasions. Celebrities and ordinary citizens have also been known to wear Sun Yat-sen suit. In a typical Sun Yat-sen suit, there is no break seam at the back, symbolizing the peaceful reunification of the nation. And Pocket flap in the shape of a reversed brush stand means that intellectuals are held in high regard in the democratic revolution. The five buttons down the front of the suit represent the five independent rights stated in the constitution: administration, legislation, judiciary, examination and supervision. And the four patch pockets represent four virtues of the Chinese nation:courtesy, justice, honesty, and honor. While the there cuff buttons represent Three Principles of the People: Nationalism, Democracy, and People’s Livelihood. And the five buttons on the 4 patch pockets indicate the four rights enjoyed by the people: election, dismissal, rule making, and review.

3.2 Connotations of Design Principle of Jeans

Writer James published a book called Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon . In the book, he says jeans serve as a sign for two American values, creativity and rebellion. It was the symbol of the teenage rebel in TV program mes and movies (like James Dean in the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause). Some schools in the USA banned students from wearing denim. Teenagers called the waist overalls 'jean pants' - and the name stayed. In many non-western countries, jeans became a symbol of 'Western decadence' and were very hard to get. US companies said that they often received letters from people all around the world asking them to send the writer a pair of jeans

4. Analysis of the Popularity of Sun Yat-Sen Suit and Jeans

4.1 Popularity of Sun Yat-Sen Suit

After Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, popular mythology assigned a revolutionary and patriotic significance to the Sun Yat-Sen Suit. From 1966-1976, the suit came to be widely worn by the entire male population as a symbol of proletarian unity; it was regularly worn by Communist Party cadres until the 1990s when it was largely replaced by the Western business suit. The Mao suit remained the standard formal dress for the first and second generations of PRC leaders such as Deng Xiaoping. During the 1990s, it began to be worn with decreasing frequency by leaders of Jiang Zemin's generation as more and more Chinese politicians began wearing traditional Western-style suits with neckties. Jiang wore it only on special occasions, such as to state dinners, but this practice was almost totally discontinued by his successor Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao still wore the Mao suit, however, on some special occasions, such as the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic in 2009. By the early part of the 21st century, the Mao suit is rarely worn even on formal occasions. The dark green version of the suit is more often worn, usually by civilian party officials wishing to demonstrate control over or camaraderie with the military in their capacity as officials of the Central Military Commission. In Taiwan, the Sun Yat-Sen Suit was seldom seen after the 1970s. Moreover, given the subtropical weather much of the year in Taiwan, for a time a modified version became at least semi-standard which dropped the high-collar buttoned up original constriction in favor of a Western style open dress shirt collar, unbuttoned.Today among the Chinese people, the Mao suit has been abandoned by some of the younger generation in urban areas, but is still worn during formal occasions.

4.2 Popularity of Jeans

Jeans was usually dyed with indigo, a dye taken from plants in the Americas and India, which made jean cloth a dark blue colour. Plantation is a large farm where a single crop is grown dye. In 1886, Levi sewed a leather label on their jeans, the label showed a picture of a pair of jeans that were being pulled between two horses. This was to advertise how strong Levi jeans were: even two horses could not tear them apart. In the 1930's, Hollywood made lots of western movies. Cowboys - who often wore jeans in the movies-became very popular. Many Americans who lived in the eastern states went for vacations on 'dude ranches' and took pairs of denim 'waist overalls' back east with them when they went home. In the 1940's, fewer jeans were made during the time of World War 2, but 'waist overalls' were introduced to the world by American soldiers, who sometimes wore them when they were off duty. After the war, Levi began to sell their clothes outside the American West. Rival companies, like Wrangler and Lee, began to compete with Levi for a share of this new market. In the 1960's many, many university and college students wore jeans. Different styles of jeans were made, to match the 60's fashions: embroidered jeans, painted jeans, psychedelic jeans...As regulations on world trade became more relaxed in the late 1970's, jeans started to be made more and more in sweatshops in countries in the South. Because the workers were paid very little, jeans became cheaper. More people in the countries of the South started wearing jeans. While in the 1980's jeans finally became high fashion clothing, when famous designers started making their own styles of jeans, with their own labels on them. Sales of jeans went up and up. And In the worldwide recession of the 1990's, the sale of jeans has stopped growing.

5. Conclusion

As the typical dress in China and American, Sun Yat-Sen Suit and Jeans have their own unique features, neither of them can be replaced or abandoned. With the increasing intercommunication between our two nations, our culture will have more similarities. And at the same time we can choose what is fitful for ourselves, which would be the most balanced point between our two nations. Besides, with the widespread of our different dress culture, the earth that we live will one day become more colorful and interesting.


  1. Jump up ^ http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90785/6775781.html

  2. Jump up ^ "Hu inspects Hong Kong troops, set to face protests"

  3. Jump up ^ "Mao suit continued choice of China's top leaders for National Day ceremony", Xinhua, 1 October 2009.

  4. No Sweat 1997 Andrew Ross (ed) Verso, London; A History of Denim Lynn Downey.)

5.安毓英、束汉服装美学[T]中国轻工业出版社,2001 165-169

6.华梅服饰社会学[T] 北京:中国纺织出版社



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