When it comes to buying a qipao dress, one of the most important decisions to make is choosing the dress fabric type. To do so, you have to first understand the differences between the different fabrics. For example, can you tell the difference between a silk versus a brocade qipao? Do you know which fabric is more comfortable or stretchy? Different dress fabrics have distinct attributes such as styles, texture, and durability.
We’ve put together a guide to help walk you through the pros and cons of the 6 most common qipao dress fabrics along with styling and care tips.
You can also take our style quiz here to get design recommendations based on fabric types.
Silk is a luxurious fabric type for qipao dresses that is known for its smooth and soft texture. Many elegant qipaos are made with silk. Since silk is glossy and can be dyed easily, silk qipaos can often come in various colors.
- Pros: Soft and smooth, absorbent
- Cons: Very delicate, easy to wrinkle and snag
- Popular Silhouettes: Mermaid, Sheath
- Style: Silk qipaos are perfect for people who want a sophisticated look
- Cleaning and care: Dry clean or use delicate detergent to hand wash silk dresses in cold water. Avoid soaking silk dresses in water for a long time. No bleaching or wringing.
Brocade is the most traditional type of fabric found in Chinese clothing and is widely used to make high-quality qipaos. In ancient China, wearing brocade dresses was a symbol of wealth and nobility. Even in modern times, a brocade qipao is one of the most popular styles of Chinese dresses.
Brocade fabric is a strong woven fabric with a rich and draping style. It usually has elaborate patterned designs featuring auspicious symbols (dragons, phoenixes, cherry blossoms, etc.) with gold and silver threads. Many brocade qipaos are also paired with intricate pankou knots (frog buttons).
- Pros: Sturdy, colorful, stunning patterns
- Cons: Stiffer and doesn’t have much stretch
- Popular Silhouettes: Sheath
- Style: The rich and traditional brocade fabric is perfect for a luxurious formal autumn or winter outfit.
- Cleaning and care: Brocade dresses are best dry cleaned. If cleaning by yourself, it’s safe to hand wash it in cold water with a delicate detergent. Dry naturally in the shade.
Lace is often used as an overlay material in modern qipaos. Lace was first popularized in Europe during the 16th century and became widely used in fashion. Today, you’ll see many modern style qipaos in Chinese fashion where lace is often incorporated as a delicate, sumptuous fabric. Lace fabric helps give qipao dresses a light and open feel with a touch of elegant romance.
- Pros: Soft, light and airy
- Cons: Fragile and transparent
- Style: Lace is the perfect choice for a summer qipao wedding dress. Our favorite short sleeve lace qipao dresses are our Emma Bespoke Dress and our Jade Bespoke Dress.
- Popular Silhouettes: A-line, Mermaid
- Cleaning and care: Dry clean or wash in cold/warm water with gentle laundry detergent. Dry naturally and avoid hot ironing.
Cotton might be the most popular material for casual qipaos. Many people choose cotton qipaos because of its affordability and durability. In addition, cotton fabric is absorbent, breathable, and soft to touch. Qipaos made in cotton are simple but still elegant.
- Pros: Durable, breathable, soft and affordable
- Cons: Can wrinkle and shrink easily
- Style: Cotton qipaos are often worn in everyday life or for casual events, but it’s suitable for many occasions. Its absorbance and breathability make it an ideal material for the summer.
- Popular Silhouettes: A-line, Sheath
- Cleaning and Care: Most cotton dresses are machine washable. Use cold or warm water to wash to prevent it from color fading and shrinking. Hang to dry to avoid shrinkage.
Tulle is light and translucent. It has good formability and is rich in colors. Even though it has a sheer look, tulle is a strong fabric that can hold embroideries very well. Floral embroideries on tulle are usually very vivid and lively. With all these unique features, tulle qipaos can emphasize the feminine and ethereal beauty of a woman.
- Pros: Diaphanous, pairs well with vivid embroideries
- Cons: Stiffer, not as comfortable to the skin. It usually needs to have a layer of lining inside the dress.
- Style: The lightweight and airy tulle qipao are suitable for people who like to have an ethereal look. Check out our Mindy and Astrid dresses.
- Popular Silhouettes: A-line
- Cleaning and Care: Soaking and hand washing in warm water is the safest way to clean organza dresses. Hang dry do not wring.
Velvet is a type of stretchy fabric that is usually made from cotton, silk, or rayon. It has small fluff on the surface with a smooth and soft texture. The shinny and fuzzy surface give it a feeling of luxury and nobility. Velvet qipaos are lightweight but warm and are commonly worn in the fall or winter.
- Pros: Light but has volume; very soft and drapes well
- Cons: Dust absorbent, difficult to clean
- Style: Elegant and sumptuous winter qipaos that can complement your figure
- Popular Silhouettes: Sheath
- Cleaning and Care: For most velvet dresses, dry cleaning is recommended. For cotton velvet, hand washing in cool water is appropriate. Hang on a padded hanger to dry in the shade and never use a dryer. If your velvet dress needs to be ironed, use a steamer.
With this dress fabric guide, we hope you now have a better understanding of the pros and cons of the various qipao dress fabrics. Some qipao fabrics may require special care so in addition to the tips provided above, double-check the care labels before cleaning your qipao.
Various fabrics also have distinct features that are more suitable for certain styles of qipaos. For more ways on how you can customize your qipao to make it unique to you, check out our additional blog posts below.
If you need more personal styling advice and recommendations, you can take our style quiz to help you find the perfect qipao that meets all your needs.