Recently I received a comment from a reader to check out Taobao or 淘宝 for cheap and good cheongsams. That piqued my interest, since I’m always interested in cheap and good cheongsams (which are rare), and I had never really checked out the site before. Initially I had wanted to put up a review post like what I did for Etsy and Qoo10, but after going through innumerable cheongsam pictures, I realized there are some interesting designs suitable for women who are not slim, or in plain speak, pudgy.
I am not going to be politically correct here, and will probably have vitriol spew at me, but I’m just stating the truth. Almost all cheongsam designs are for the slim physique. Don’t forget that the basis of the cheongsam is the clsssic form-fitting cut. The different modern versions are basically variation of it. Think of the reasoning for the design in the first place, and the women who wore them in the hey days of the 1930s. To make a point, before filming of the movie “Lust, Caution” started, Ang Lee told his main actors (who are already slim built by the way), to shed a few more pounds, so that their physiques resembled more to the people living in the 1930s. I’m sure those who saw the movie remember Tang Wei in her beautiful cheongsams. That is the physique meant for the dress.
Previously I thought that with the flare skirt bottom, the cheongsam can be accommodating to the horizontally challenged. But I have since realized that for ladies who don’t possess the shape, they only end up looking like they are wearing a bigger-sized dress meant for a slim person. The big flabby arms in a sleeveless dress, albeit with flared skirt, just don’t cut it.
Don’t believe me, look at the models showcasing the cheongsams, do you see anyone who has BMI higher than 20? (Actually there is one site where the model seems to reflect the reality, but that is the only one I have seen so far.) These slim girls make the dresses look good and we project our images on them, thinking we would look as fabulous. But we have to look at how the cheongsam looks on our physique and be realistic, even the modern designs favor the slim body. So designers have to be creative in launching collections for pudgy women – its not about offering a L or XL size dress to cater to them, but truly redesigning a cheongsam which flatters the bigger bodice.
I know The Lady General tried launching some loose fitting dresses in the first collection, but I find them looking too much like the muu-muu. At Taobao, surprisingly, there are some designs which would look good (and even better) on a bigger woman though the models are stick thin.
I find this elegant flowy grey dress, with bell shaped sleeves, is not really suitable for a thin body, because it only emphasizes how skinny the model is. Instead it is actually better suited for someone bigger in size.
Below is a rather pretty blue leafy print dress, suitable for the horizontally challenged, and like the above, the elbow length sleeves help to cover up any flabby flaws. Note the the material should be soft to drape well.
I am sure there are better improvisations to the cheongsam that will make the pudgy ladies look elegant. It will take a lot of effort to come up with something flattering, but I think it will be popular.