The Significance of Colors in Chinese Traditional Fashion

The Significance of Colors in Chinese Traditional Fashion

The Significance of Colors in Chinese Traditional Fashion


Chinese traditional fashion is not only about styles and designs but also about the colors chosen. Each color carries deep symbolic meanings that have been passed down through generations. This article explores the significance of colors in Chinese traditional fashion and sheds light on their cultural and historical importance.

Meanings of Colors in Chinese Traditional Fashion

Red (红色)

The color red has a tremendous significance in Chinese culture. It represents luck, happiness, and celebration. Red is frequently used in luxurious fabrics such as silk and embroidered in traditional clothing like the qipao (cheongsam) and dragon robes. It is particularly popular during Chinese New Year and other festive occasions.

Yellow (黄色)

Yellow is considered the most sacred color in Chinese culture. It symbolizes royalty, power, and the earth. In ancient times, only the emperor and high-ranking officials were allowed to wear yellow garments. Today, yellow is still associated with the imperial family and is commonly seen in ceremonial robes and traditional opera costumes.

Blue (蓝色)

Blue represents healing, calmness, and the element of water. It is often used in designs for garments worn during funerals to symbolize mourning. Blue was once considered a less popular color in traditional fashion, but it has gained popularity in recent years due to its association with tranquility and harmony.

White (白色)

White symbolizes purity, innocence, and new beginnings. It is often worn by brides during weddings as it represents a fresh start in their new lives. However, white is also associated with mourning and funerals in some parts of China, so it is necessary to consider regional differences when interpreting the meaning of this color.

Black (黑色)

Black represents a mixture of positive and negative elements. On one hand, it symbolizes power, elegance, and formality. It is often worn in formal attire and traditional clothing for important occasions. On the other hand, black can also represent sadness, darkness, and bad luck. It is not commonly worn for festive events or weddings.

Green (绿色)

Green symbolizes nature, fertility, and harmony. It represents hope, growth, and prosperity. In traditional fashion, green is often seen in garments featuring floral patterns and landscapes, reflecting the connection between humans and the natural world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are these color significances limited to clothing?

No, these color significances extend to various aspects of Chinese culture, including home decoration, art, and even food.

2. Can these color meanings vary in different regions of China?

Yes, color symbolism can differ between regions. For example, while white represents mourning in some areas, it symbolizes purity and brightness in others.

3. How are these colors used in modern Chinese fashion?

While modern Chinese fashion incorporates global trends, designers often infuse traditional colors and symbols into their creations. The significance of colors in traditional fashion continues to influence contemporary designs.

4. Are there any taboos regarding color combinations in Chinese traditional fashion?

Yes, some color combinations should be avoided as they may bring bad luck or represent negative connotations. For example, white and black combined may symbolize death and mourning.

5. Are there any recent trends in color usage in Chinese traditional fashion?

Recently, there has been a revival of interest in using traditional colors in modern designs. Designers are experimenting with bold combinations and incorporating traditional patterns into contemporary clothing.


Color plays a vital role in Chinese traditional fashion, representing cultural values, emotions, and symbolism. Each color carries deep significance and contributes to the overall aesthetic of traditional garments. By understanding the meanings behind these colors, we gain insight into the rich cultural heritage preserved through the clothing worn in Chinese society.