Cheongsam news of the month

I want to apologize to everyone for the looooonnnnggg radio silence. Work has been crazy busy!!!!

Peter Kor’s Studio 55 boutique is having a sale now till 25 June. This is a pretty good time to get some cheongsams which include those from this year Chinese New Year collection. The discount is also pretty generous, with many dresses going for only S$99. So do check out the boutique at #02-03, 222 Queen Street before your sizes run out.

Sissae has just launched the new “Luminance” collection, with its signature luxurious look. I’m only showcasing the cheongsam tops and dresses here, since the collection includes a mix of pants and other types of dresses. So we have here the Macy long vest, which I must say looks rather elegant. The embroidery is appears exquisite as well.

There are a couple of tops available, like this white Zoe blouse with dark green piping.

The other is the Agnella blouse in pastel blue, which looks like it is more suited for a pregnant lady though.

The Agnella also comes in a beautiful qipao which I would rather go for than the top. The embroidered duchess satin fabric looks absolutely gorgeous, and the back zip comes with a tassel which is a nice touch. I especially like the fact that the embroidery extended to the back which is typically absent in many dresses. This is a stunning piece of cheongsam!

Another elaborate piece of qipao is the Jade Ruffle, which as its name implies, has a ruffle sewn on the left shoulder. For this cheongsam, there is no embroidery at the back though.

Next, here is a halter-neck dress, the Fiona qipao, though I have some misgivings about the simple faux buttons running the front of the dress. It could have been a sexy stunning dress but the buttons make the dress looks plain. The embroidered lace at the back is the only saving grace.

Finally, the Emery cheongsam which has a conservative feel to it.

To round off, we have a couple of cheongsams from Hana. The designers must be having the garden theme in mind with these two dresses. They are pretty eye-catching but a little too elaborate for my taste though.

A quick update on Lai Chan cheongsams

It has been quite some time since I last checked out Laichan cheongsams for CNY. I returned last week for a dress alteration and also to look for new designs. Met up with Eddy who told me that they were only just starting to line up a new range for production. There were only a few new prints and designs in store, but I thought I should feature them here. So, let’s start with the signature cheongsams.

Here are a few dresses which caught my eyes. I’m especially taken in by the second orchid print dress and the lavender sequinned snake-skin print. Now, usually sequins can be rather uncomfortable to the skin, like they can be prickly on the neck and armpit. Eddy told me that they would snip off the sequins at these areas to make the dress comfortable for the wearer, and I thought that is so considerate.

Next, we have a couple of red evening dresses for the wedding dinner. The top cheongsam features embroidered lace appliqué from the armpit down, with a flare-out bottom.

The second red dress is this elaborate outfit with beautiful embroidered floral appliqué surrounded by tassel. A long row of red buttons lined the back. A stunning dress for a bride that will grab attention!

For the men, there is a stately-looking long mandarin-collared jacket that comes with button.

I spotted an interesting cheongsam top while I was at the boutique. It is a combination of both modern and traditional, with a contrasting Sakura print in front and polka dot pint at the back. The different sleeve lengths add on to the contemporary look.

Last minute cheongsams for VD and CNY!

Valentine’s Day is just round the corner, followed closely by the Chinese New Year. If you haven’t gotten your dresses yet, you should consider a cheongsam especially for VD. Since this is my last post on cheongsams before the festivities begin, I like to feature dresses from retailers whom I haven’t been showcasing lately as well a couple of new ones.

I can’t believe I forgot about Miz Apparels until recently. I have been too engrossed with the choices available in department stores. So I made a trip to the One Raffles Place outlet to see what are available. Just like previous collections, MA does the Mother-Daughter set very well. The dresses go for less than S$200 and the top is retailed at S$99.

On Friday, I went to the pop-up store of The Girl’s Kaksh where I finally got to check out the designs. Actually, I had encountered the dresses some years back when Audrey started selling her cheongsams. I was intrigued by the eclectic prints, but I didn’t get anything then. Subsequently the brand came up in my radar again, and I started followed it on FB. That was how I found out Audrey was holding a 2-day pop up store at International Plaza.

I had previously requested to showcase the dresses on my blog, but was declined politely. Finally this time, Audrey acceded. So here we have a piece with cat print and to add a whimsical touch, Audrey designed a fish along the side slit.

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If you like the interesting designs from TGK, and every piece is unique, do contact Audrey for an appointment to check out these whimsy cheongsams. Most of the dresses are slightly more than S$200, and they run a little larger than usual . If you want a custom made piece, it will be at least S$250 depending on fabrics.

A new brand I like to introduce here is Qiqing Qipao. I chanced upon this label on FB a few days ago, and was intrigued by the cheongsam designs. Many available in the market usually come in bright floral prints with embroidered buttons; but for those from Qiqing, they have a clean cut and contemporary look. These are very suited for the professionals.

I approached the designer, Josephine Ho, to ask if I could feature some of the dresses on my blog and she was very accommodating and even sent over pictures for me.

The dress  below with simple print and a V-shaped back, is known fittingly as “Backview”, and retailed at S$288.

The range below, Linear Twist, is retailed for S$329. Check out the scalloped collar.

Qiqing offers tops as well, like these which are inspired by the Vietnamese ao yai. They go for S$179, and if you want it with floral prints (available for the CNY occasion), it is S$219.

Josephine has a showroom at 780 Upper Serangoon Road. If you are interested to go for a fitting, do contact her for an appointment.

Next, we have Mama & Misse, another brand which I haven’t been featuring for quite some time. M&M’s cheongsams are unique as well, but they are mostly in the traditional cut and go for more than S$300. For those with UOB credit cards, there is a 10% discount during this CNY period.

And how could I not include Blum in this post. It turns out I was wrong to think that the label is not launching many cheongsams this time. It’s just that they are launching it a little later than most other brands. Expect to pay in the range of S$350 for the dresses.

Finally, we have Hana where you can get a cheongsam that makes you look like a million dollar, at a price of more than S$1,600. With such elaborate embroidery, I must say it is worth it. I mean, seriously, look at this dress!

With so many different designs available, shoppers are really spoilt for choice. So do check out and get yourself a cheongsam and shine during this VD or Chinese New Year!

Check out the cheongsams from Monica Quen (updated)

(Note. Monica Quen has kindly provided me with photo shoot of the dresses for a better view, and so I have replaced a couple of those I took and included a few more.)

I was in Penang last week, and I took the opportunity to visit Monica Quen boutique to see the cheongsams for myself. I first heard of her from a colleague who wore her dresses during CNY last year. She told me she bought them from the shop at the Eastern & Oriental hotel in Penang. I then went online to do some research, and found out Monica is a Malaysian fashion designer who focuses on oriental wear. Her stores are available in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

I don’t have any plan to visit KL, and was wondering when I would even go to Penang, even though my husband has relatives there. It turns out we made the visit before this CNY.

There are 3 boutiques in Penang. To maximize my time spent, I contacted Monica to ask which shop would have the full collection, and she suggested I visit the one at Straits Quay (Add: Lot No. 3A-G-29, Block A, G Floor, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjong Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia). This is an upmarket mall by the Marina with apartments above shopping center.

When I communicated with Monica, I took the chance to introduce my blog to her and to request for permission to take photos. She very kindly obliged, and even suggested I visit the shop on the Friday when the designer would be present. Unfortunately, I would leave Penang by then and had to miss this opportunity.

The boutique is situated next to the mall entrance, which is a pretty good spot. It is fairly large and spacious, and tastefully furnished with an oriental interior, befitting of the clothes it sells.

Now, let’s check out the clothes; and I only focused on cheongsam dresses and tops. We have here a cheongsam muumuu in silk for those who prefer something comfy.

Personally I feel that a cheongsam should be fitting, though originally it was a loose dress. But never casual! Always proper! So I am not in favor that cheongsam should go casual. So we have a couple of dresses here that adhere to my view of how it should look like: a couple of pink dresses in jacquard woven cotton blend with elastane (MYR229.90) and a pretty turquoise one in stretchy cotton with geometric print (MYR169.90).

Next, we have a series of cheongsams in light fabric: the first one is a loose fit dress with blue chinoiserie print in chiffon (MYR269.90); while the other two are figure-hugging dresses (called the “netting” range by the boutique). I understand the latters are very popular because they adhere to any body shapes. They are going for MYR229.90.

For a formal look, there is an embroidered organza lace cheongsam in lavender at MYR499.90.

Finally, for the cheongsam tops, you can pick from different fabrics, such as this below in blue embroidered thick cotton-linen (MYR299.90) as well as a red one in a light polyester blend (MYR129.90).

So, what do I think of the cheongsams? To be honest, if I want to compare with Clothier or even Peter Kor, the workmanship is not as fine though it is acceptable. However when I take into account their prices, I must say they definitely give the Singapore brands a run for their money.

At the current exchange rate of MYR1 to about USD0.257 and SGD0.338, I’m sure you realize even the most expensive embroidered dress is below S$200. This make the cheongsams really value for money. If you are making a trip to Penang or Kuala Lumpur, do check out the stores.

(More photos below)

The CNY cheongsam launches continue

The Happy Cheongsam has launched its 2018 collection after a long hiatus. In fact, it has been a year since we last saw its designs, which was for 2017 CNY. When I checked in with Ming a few months ago on the radio silence, she told me she was preparing for the new year designs.

So, here we are, some pictures of the collection you can expect from THC. To be honest, I thought last year’s dresses were prettier.

There is a familiar look this time – a design that appeared in the first collection, the peacock dress below. It also comes in black, the color that was launched previously.

For the young ladies who prefer something comfy, you can opt for the cheongsam top and shorts set. I thought it might be a little too casual. But it seems that the younger Singaporeans have a tendency to dress down.

Finally a Mother-Daughter set. Again, the mama cheongsam reminds me of the Thai silk pleated dress from the first collection as well.

Another retailer, which has launched a new collection, is Sissae, and it’s aptly named as “Opulence”!there is a focus on embroidery and brocade silk fabric. The designs are more suited for formal occasions or as special wear.

When I was at Robinson Raffles City Mall to look at Peter Kor’s collection, I took the chance to check out the other designs. The departmental store has been offering more cheongsam selections over the last 2 years, which I presume to mean that there is increased demand for the dress during CNY. Here are some of what you can expect at a cheaper price range.

Over at Parkway Parade, I spotted a pretty batik cheongsam from Utopia Apparels. I like the juxtaposition of the different prints, and I think it would make for a fun casual piece!

Getting ready for CNY with Peter Kor’s cheongsams

As mentioned in my previous post, Peter is launching a big collection for the Chinese new year with amazing fabrics and prints. Other than his boutique at 222 Queen street, the collection is also available at Metro and Robinson department stores. Though the dresses are not exactly the same in these stores as there are certain items exclusives to Metro or Robinson. You will get to see most of the designs at the boutique.

I had featured some of the new dresses previously, and here are the rest. (I admit I did not get to take pictures of all the dresses as some are already in-store, and this is a huge collection!)

As is Peter’s style, the cheongsam has been transformed from a traditional dress to work wear for the modern women. Many of the dresses come in Japanese cotton fabrics for comfort and easy to clean. If you like something more luxurious, there are cheongsams with beautiful silk or tweed fabrics.

To start, we have here a simple dress if you are not into embellishments and prefer a subtle look. Despite the absence of buttons or embroidery, the gold collar gives it an elegant touch.

For a youthful look, there is a wide selection of cheongsams in youngish prints like checks or daisies. The checkered dresses come with interesting tassel embellishment at the front slit. Otherwise, opt for the embroidered floral buttons instead.

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Similar to last year’s collection, Peter has again launched a couple of dresses in kimono prints. These would be perfect for those who love colorful floral designs. These Japanese cotton cheongsams are priced at S$249.

Here are a couple of dresses which I swoon over. I first spotted the below white dress with embroidery at Robinson store, and I thought it was absolutely gorgeous. It reminds me of a Monet painting! The silk organza fabric has a luxurious feel to it, and the embroidery covers the back as well. So you can imagine how amazing it looks! Though it comes at a price of S$599.

The other dress is a bright red, Indian-inspired cheongsam which would be perfect for both CNY and Deepavali (the Indian Festival of Light).  The fabric is a thick cotton-blend paired with sari material. Some might find that it looks like a wedding dress (since it’s customary for a Chinese bride to wear red during her wedding, other than CNY). But I wouldn’t mind going to work in it to brighten things up. You can find this dress at Metro Paragon or Centrepoint at S$349.

When I first saw this furry dress, I was bowled over by how interesting it looks. But, I must admit, after trying it, I thought I wouldn’t be out of place in a Flintstone cartoon. I looked like I was wearing a colorful fur dress. It’s just not for me.

For the traditionalists who wants something that screams “Chinese New Year”, you have the option of either an appropriately red cheongsam with large peony flowers or the imperial yellow with peony and birds.  These silk dresses are priced at S$329.

Peter has designed a pleated cheongsam dress with side pockets and belt. The whimsical print shows different patterned bowls of rice and reminds me of the dresses from The Happy Cheongsam. This will certainly appeal to the younger ladies.

Finally, we have a tweed dress with faux pearl buttons. This is strictly not part of the CNY collection, but was launched a few months earlier. However, given that it is in red, I must say it makes an elegant wear for the festivities.

If any dress catches your eyes, do check them out at the boutique or department stores. Each cheongsam comes in only a few sizes.

The launch of the CNY cheongsams (updated)

Happy 2018 to everyone!

I received an email from Ping Ping of Clothier before Christmas, and she invited me to her boutique at Tanglin Shopping Center, #B1-07, 19 Tanglin Road, where she has just launched the CNY collection. I was under the weather during the Christmas weekend, and only managed to make the trip last week.

Ping Ping was not in the shop but a staff helped me to contact her, and I managed to speak to her about the collection. As is now seem to be Clothier style, Ping Ping is sticking to the classic design and fabrics. Nothing overly fancy, elaborate or ostentatious even. Still, the collection has something to offer for those who want a luxurious look, like these dresses below in fully embroidered silk chiffon that come in dusty pink, dark grey, light grey and navy blue colors that go for S$398. I find the stitchings pretty alright, though I must say the dull colors and the sleeve length do make the cheongsams look rather matronly.

If you prefer a dress with a vibrant look and yet has similar luxurious embroidery, here is one with cap sleeves at S$328.

For more brighter and festive wear, check out the 100% silk cheongsams below which are going for S$298. They are slightly cheaper without the embroidery.

For the price-conscious shopper, there are cheaper cheongsams in cotton/polyester mix fabrics at S$148. The design is catered to the young ladies with its  high shoulder cut and youthful prints and colors.

Here is a dress with a beautiful print that reminds me of an oriental vase. The fabrics are carefully sewn to ensure symmetry on both front and back. It looks rather expensive but is reasonably priced at S$168, and that’s because the fabric is a mix of 65% polyester and 35% cotton.

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Ping Ping has included a series of cheongsams using the rare and expensive Xiang Yun Sha (香云纱) silk, literally translated as “fragrant cloud organza), also known as tea silk or Chinese Gambiered silk. It is made in a town in Guangzhou province, China. The silk is dyed using the juice of the local plants, and the entire production is very laborious as everything is done by hand. However the efforts show in the quality, which is apparently much better than the usual silk and the fabric can retain colors for many years. According to Ping Ping, a distinctive feature of this sort of silk is that the underside is a dark brown color.

Due to the limited quantities of this silk fabric the price is also much higher. Like these two designs below are priced at S$688 each.

(I have since found out from Ping Ping that the purple dress is made from a plain woven jacquard, while the brown dress used a printed fabric.)

The below dress is, however, more expensive at S$788. I’m checking with Ping Ping on this and will update my post once I get a reply from her. (Update: this dress required more workmanship and details, hence the higher price point.)

I must admitted I am not fascinated with the Xiang Yun Sha designs, which are loose and flowy at calf length and the sleeves are too long for my liking. They remind me of the traditional cheongsams worn by ladies in the 1920’s, which seem more appropriate for the older women (like those in their 60’s and above).

Clothier cheongsams are also available in pop-up stores at the major departmental stores such as Tang, Isetan and Takashimaya in town. Usually, these stores will offer discount for the CNY dresses and you may want to take advantage of that if you plan to shop for a cheongsam.

A preview of the New Year cheongsams

2018 Chinese New Year is more than 2 months away, but already boutiques are preparing for launches. In fact, Peter Kor of Studio 55 started his creative process some months back. He didn’t want to repeat the mistake of last year when he had to rush through the designs at the last minute. The fact that the next CNY falls on mid February will help the retailers, in the sense that it provides a breather for shoppers after Christmas.

I was at Studio 55 a couple of days ago and Peter had kindly allowed me to feature some of his new designs, and I can tell everyone that the collection is huge! (Actually I had a sneak preview a couple of months ago of some of the dresses, but of course I couldn’t take any pictures then.) I have to say that I am pretty excited about this range.

So, here are some beautiful cheongsams you can expect from Peter.

Starting off is one of the pieces that I love: an oriental print silk fabric from Italy, which is absolutely stunning! A simple dress that lets the print does the talking.

The below design with the flamenco pleat is the same as one that was launched for CNY last year. The difference this time is the polka-dot print with stone buttons, giving the cheongsam a playful spin that will appeal to the younger crowd.

Peter has again incorporated Japanese cotton print into the CNY cheongsams, which you can wash gently in water. To make the cheongsams interesting, he used interesting trimmings for the collars and the embroidered buttons.

Here’s another piece that I like, the fabric that is reminiscent of a Klimt’s painting.

Look at the French lace covering the collar. It adds a touch of elegance. Another simple cheongsam that stands on its beautiful print.

For those who prefer a modern dress without the high collar, you can opt for this with embroidered buttons. Personally, I wouldn’t consider this a cheongsam though.

Now, the two dresses below are not part of the CNY designs but from the previous collection. I thought I would feature them here in case anyone is interested in something that is not in the red category or something appropriate for work (not that I consider any of the CNY cheongsams as inappropriate).

From Studio 55, let’s move on to other cheongsam retailers. Here we have Hana, with its unmistakable ostentatious embroidered dress that would be very fitting at a wedding.

Blum boutique has started releasing some new designs and here was what I spotted the other day at the window display.

As usual for Shanghai Tang, it offers both the classic and the modern looks, including short collars for those who are not used to having their necks hugged.

If you are looking for an edgy-looking cheongsam, I must say Shanghai Tang does it well, like this blue dress with zip below.

For those who want to look like a million buck even in a casual cheongsam, this is the dress for you.

I can understand if the price tags of the above retailer would put off many women. For something that would be within reasonable budget, you might see something you like from Joli Pretty’s latest collection for 2018. The range of dresses and jumpsuit is priced between S$169 to S$189.

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There will more launches, especially in end of December and beginning of January. I will try not to get distracted by Pogo, and showcase as many as possible in my blog,

 

Quick peek at Laichan cheongsams

The other day, I was at Paragon for lunch and decided to grab a quick peek into the latest designs at Laichan boutique. Eddie was not around and I met Lai Chan attending to a customer. Spoke briefly to him about the official opening of the shop, and he said he was fine with not having any since the shop is considered open for business. But it looks like he has to have an official one as many regulars are asking about it. Right now he is busy with the fashion show at Singapore Fashion Week in 26 October. In fact Laichan is opening the show!

Anyway I didn’t stay long in the boutique as there were more customers coming in, and Laichan had to handle them on his own. I managed to take pictures of some new designs, and found that there were more Japanese cotton fabrics this time. So, here we have some standout cheongsams for formal occasions including wedding.

 

 

Below is a cheongsam with Japanese print. A youthful looking dress that is cheery as well!

I like the geometric print of this cheongsam below.  It has a retro feel and yet is beautifully contemporary.

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If you remember that Laichan has designed a cheongsam with pockets since end last year, and this time he added overlapping front pleats and using gingham print.

A beautiful and elegant white cheongsam for the big day!

There are not many cheongsam tops available though. Here is one with zipper instead of the signature stone buttons.

While I was there, Laichan pointed out a kimono-style jacket to me. This regal outerwear is a showstopper!

A black flamboyant long jacket for those who want to make a statement.

I am very honored that Laichan invited me to his show at Singapore Fashion Week, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. I like to wish him all success, and look forward to checking out new designs in the near future.

The different styles of cheongsams

A few weeks ago, a reader sent me a CNN link of the recommended cheongsam boutiques in Shanghai. Though her intention was not to introduce the boutiques but to alert me to one which claimed to have made the dresses wore by Maggie Cheung in ‘The Mood For Love’ (and it wasn’t Linva of Hong Kong). The boutique in question is Han Yi (瀚艺).

Anyway, after a little research, I think it was very likely the costume designer for the movie approached more than one tailor to make the cheongsams. But what piqued my curiosity is the list, because I want to know why are these the best, and how they distinguish themselves from the rest, especially compared to those in Singapore.

However the article didn’t even provide representative pictures of the cheongsams from each of the shops, and even the descriptions of the designs say very little about them. What does it mean by colorful, unconventional, decadent fabrics? The pictures featured don’t seem to have any relations to the ones offered by the boutiques.  The only boutique I’m familiar with is Shanghai Tang, and I had checked out Qipao by Jane some time ago (and strangely the website has been taken down). I tried to search online for them, but pictures were few and far between. Notably absent is also mention of the workmanship and service.

Now you might be wondering since these are said to be the best in Shanghai, the workmanship would be assumed to be good? Yes, especially since they offer customized cheongsams. So I am curious as to whether they accommodate women with odd physique and the ability to downplay the flaws. I have not seen it for myself, but Eddie of Lai Chan boutique assured me that they do not turn away customers who do not have the typical body shape. He recalled a lady who had really flat bums and Lai Chan designed padding on the dress for her. I have also seen for myself how Gary Lau of Kang’s boutique can make a cheongsam (for a friend) which accentuates the curves and camouflages the flaws.

Anyway, this got me thinking that I should write a post on how the cheongsam designers in Singapore differentiate from one another. Now, this is not a comprehensive list but is based on my knowledge of the designers and the dresses.

Hana

Hana’s designs tend to be a little opulent, even loud or flashy, and looks like something a middle aged or older socialite would go for. The dresses are in the usual classic fit since I suspect that is what its clientele feel that this is what cheongsam is supposed to be.

Laichan

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What else but its distinctive semi-precious stone buttons running from the collar down to the hip? Sure, occasionally there are deviations such as the modern qipaos with backzips, but the row of buttons is uniquely Laichan. It’s no surprise I have a soft spot for the cheongsams because of the beautiful prints and fabrics (sometimes with a dash of whimsy), the amazing workmanship and attention to details, and the good customer service. Despite the classic look featured here, Laichan is capable of ultra modern cheongsam designs.

Peter Kor (Studio 55)

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Peter’s dresses are geared towards the working ladies, with hidden back zips for easy wear, stylish designs and good workmanship for a professional look. Yet they retain the soul of the cheongsam. There are other designers who make cheongsams for the working women, but Peter’s dresses stand out for the rich and quality fabrics and prints, which are mostly sourced from France and Japan. However, I have to add that the onsite alternation is not up to my expectations because the dress wouldn’t fit nicely even after the work, and I had to send it to my regular seamstress to get it fixed. This is a pity since many times the alteration also affected the original excellent workmanship.

Clothier

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Clothier’s qipaos are typically in oriental floral prints with simple fabric button accessories in traditional design. They have reasonably good workmanship and prices are not crazy expensive. Despite the classic look, the dresses have hidden back zip for wearability.

Mama & Misse

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M&M incorporates local cultural elements into its cheongsams, like the use of sari and batik fabrics. The cheongsams are usually in classic design as well, and have a mix of those with back zip or side zip. M&M offers both formal and casual cheongsams to customers, in either silk or cotton fabrics. The prices are similar to those from Peter Kor, but fabrics are not as luxurious.

Lark & Peony

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L&P cheongsam designs are semi-casual and modern. The collars are shorter than usual, there is the shift cut, and even culottes. Fabrics are mostly cotton to accommodate the humid weather here, and the prints have a touch of ethnic or Japanese aesthetics. The traditionalists might not endorse the designs but the brand has its fans.

Jolli Pretty

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JP’s collections have a mix of casual and work wear. The fabrics do not have the interesting prints of L&P, and instead there is an ordinary feel about them. But for those who want affordable cheongsam work wear, below S$200, JP would be the place to get them.