As the preparation for Chinese New Year gets underway, almost every boutiques are launching the cheongsams, whether online or otherwise, which is a sign for an increased interest in the dress, even if it’s just for CNY.
Recently, it has come to my attention that there are a number of ladies who consider cheongsams above S$100 as expensive. I am not sure if they realize that it is not easy to design/make a good cheongsam and you have to pay for the workmanship. I guess they may be so price-conscious that they don’t mind compromising on the quality.
There are cheongsams available for below S$100, even below S$50. I have previously looked at cheap cheongsams from Qoo10 or Taobao, but the dresses available tend to be those designed and made in China, and you can tell by the typical floral-printed straight-cut fit which looks rather dowdy. Lately, I have discovered a few Singapore-based online boutiques selling working dresses for women, and they are also offering cheongsams for the festive celebration: Dressabelle, Job and Shop, and Alyssandra. I contacted all of them to request if I could lift images of their sites for this post, but only Dressabelle reverted with approval. The other two didn’t respond. (Update: Alyssandra wrote in a comment in the evening after this post was published, that an email was sent to me to approve of using the images. Photos now shown below.)
Dressabelle, in its website, claims that it offers quality clothes for the working women, and it updates the products eight times a month, providing more than 240 items each month. It also offers free shipping locally and internationally. However there are not many cheongsam selections available (yet), and they come in either the straight-fit cut or with pleated / flare skirt, and material is mostly polyester cotton. All are below S$40.
I have seen a young lady wearing the above striped pink cheongsam, and I can’t say it makes her look good.
Since I didn’t receive any approvals from Job and Shop, as well as Alyssandra, I can’t use their site images, which are copyrighted. (I figure it’s best not to risk a lawsuit.) But you can check out for yourself. My views are that for J&S, the cheongsams are no different to those offerings on qoo10 or Taobao, and the prices reflect so because they are all below S$30. As for Alyssandra, the designs are somewhat similar to those from Dressabelle, but slightly better, and they are priced between S$59 and S$65.
(Update: I have been given approval by Alyssandra to use the web images.) Here are some of the cheongsams available. There is quite a wide selections which include the traditional straight-fit cut, the pleated skirts, and also the mermaid hemline. Material is cotton-polyester blend.)
I was able to check out the quality, and let’s just say that you get what you pay for.
My personal view is that if you want to look good during CNY or for a special occasion, it is best to get a well-made cheongsam that is either unique or limited in quantity. It is also to be expected that you have to pay more, since you are getting a quality product. After all, a beautifully-made cheongsam is like an heirloom, something to be treasured.
However if you are only keen on an everyday outfit, something to be discarded after a few wears, then go ahead and get the cheap dress. Though you may find that it is not worth paying S$40 for a dress which you dump after a year, when you can get a good one for (say) S$200 and keep it over several years. I have a number of beautiful cheongsams which I have owned for at least four years.