Standup Collar for Dummies: Differentiating from the Mandarin Collar

Female Standup collar Ao with red Beifeng coat. Made by Jinglian Mantang of Hangzhou.

Since its inception, the Hanfu movement has strived to differentiate the flowing robes of the Han Chinese with the vestimentary products of the Qing Empire as totally different concepts. Yet, when we talk of the greatest feature of Qing and post-Qing Chinese clothing – the Mandarin standup collar – we cannot avoid that this is in fact a Han Chinese creation. Given the popular notion of Han female garb left unchanged from the “Ten exceptions” in the Queue Order, is there ultimately really a difference among Hanfu collars and Manchu-Qing collars?

To understand the evolution of the standup collar, let us look at the origins of Manchu clothing design: Collars that wrap around the neck are non-existant, and to protect the neck, scarves or separate collars are added. Han designs are differentiated from Manchu designs by maintaining an attached collar on tops for women, but due to the differences in collar shape, the short collar design in Hanfu was the only viable solution to Qing designs.

When laid flat or hung, a Hanfu standup collar reverts to a shortened cross collar shape. Clothing and photo from Minghua Tang, 2011 catalogue.

In contrast to the rounded Mandarin collars from the Qing to the present time, Hanfu standup collars insist on metal locks, wipe across the neck without any rounded corners, and when laid flat, the collar reverts to a shortened cross-collar piece, and gives generous room for the neck because of extra space given by the metal locks holding the collar back open rather than pulling it together.

Fast forward to today: Although now we know that the standup collar is not a Manchu innovation but a Chinese one, there is still some reservation by the Hanfu circle about wearing this design in the promotion of Hanfu. As an ‘alternative’ design that only existed in the final days of the Ming, some consider the collar design as ‘period dress’, while others consider it as being too different from conventional Hanfu collar archetypes and should be avoided to prevent confusion to outsiders who have little idea about the clothing. Nonetheless, the standup collar long Ao has a dedicated support base among female Hanfu wearers as winter fashion, and they often boast of delicate gold or silver embroidery, lavish brocades, and fancy metal snaplocks. Following Ming conventions, this Ao is considered casual (or sharp/’posh’ casual) and is not worn as the outermost layer except for display purposes.

Now that we see that the standup collar is a byproduct of the Chinese cross-collar, how is a piece actually produced? It is not much different in construction from a Ru or Ao top as taught in previous tutorials, but with a shorter collar piece. Because of the metal locks, the natural curve of the top edge does deform a little in the wearing of the piece, but the construction of the piece should not make adjustments because of it. Below is an illustrated guide to the construction of the standup collar top. More

Some thoughts on the recent Hanfu uniform proposal

hanfuuniformblogRecently, major news sites such as Chinanews and Guangzhou Daily has been circulating a set of illustrations to propose a modernized version of Hanfu for use as high school uniforms, and is the first seriously accepted design for Hanfu in our time.
Previous to the release of this design, other “modernizing innovations” ranged from shortening the length of the shang skirt, to adding zippers and lace in its designs. Most Hanfu supporters strongly rejected the idea, citing that “Hanfu has not yet been popularized, and it would be unwise to Westernize it before the convention is stable.”
Their doubt and hesitance to quickly adapting existant elements has no doubt paid off, in the sense of confirming a public sense of what Hanfu is, differentiating itself from Korean and Japanese clothing of similar appearance.
In this article, I will focus on the criticism of this rumoured proposal for a Hanfu-inspired school uniform. More

A snippet about Qipao – from 香港三部曲

血色岛屿

二三十年代,十里洋场的上海是全中国的时装中心,名媛、女明星、交际花的穿着打扮领导、制造时装的潮流。我在泛黄的上海报刊读到这么一首歌谣。
  
  人人都学上海样,学来学去难学样,等到学了三分像,上海早已翻花样。

  可见上海的时装晨行夕变,花样变换无穷。旗袍也是上海女人别出心裁,拿了从前满清旗装加以改造,流行到香港,黎美秀很难不受潮流影响。至于黄得云拒绝穿旗袍,则有她历史的因素,而且情有可原。
  当她是摆花街南唐馆艳淫中钗、珠锵玉摇的青楼红妓时,黄得云旗装打份,捏着绣花手绢,高跟旗鞋,摇摇摆摆,以满清公主的扮相现身吸引恩客。从良后,她脱下旗装,一直是上身衫袄,下面一条长裙或裤子。爱美的她,当然也不是没有随着时兴从阔身宽裙到腰身衣袖收窄,领子时高时低,裙脚时短时长,花样层出不穷,而是衫祆绣花、镶滚、钉珠片,甚至后来缀上五彩宝石,随着流行,无奇不有。

From this, one can see clearly that some even in the earlier times (late Qing, early ROC) were clear that the Qipao was Manchu and refused to wear it, as some sort of last defense against (whatever was left of) the Chinese culture.

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