Changing Clothes in China

Fashion, History, Nation

Antonia Finnane

Columbia University Press

Changing Clothes in China

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Pub Date: January 2008

ISBN: 9780231143509

360 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $55.00

Pub Date: January 2008

ISBN: 9780231512732

360 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $54.99

Changing Clothes in China

Fashion, History, Nation

Antonia Finnane

Columbia University Press

Based largely on nineteenth and twentieth-century representations of Chinese dress as traditional and unchanging, historians have long regarded fashion as something peculiarly Western. But in this surprising, sumptuously illustrated book, Antonia Finnane proves that vibrant fashions were a vital part of Chinese life in the late imperial era, when well-to-do men and women showed a keen awareness of what was up-to-date.

Though foreigners who traveled to China in the early decades of the twentieth century came away with the impression that Chinese dress was simple and monotone, the key features of modern fashion were beginning to emerge, especially in Shanghai. Men in blue gowns donned felt caps and leather shoes, girls began to wear fitted jackets and narrow pants, and homespun garments gave way to machine-woven cloth, often made in foreign lands. These innovations marked the start of a far-reaching vestimentary revolution that would transform the clothing culture in urban and much of rural China over the next half century.

Through Finnane's meticulous research, we are able to see how the close-fitting jacket and high collar of the 1911 Revolutionary period, the skirt and jacket-blouse of the May Fourth era, and the military style popular in the Cultural Revolution led to the variegated, globalized wardrobe of today. She brilliantly connects China's modernization and global visibility with changes in dress, offering a vivid portrait of the complex, subtle, and sometimes contradictory ways the people of China have worn their nation on their backs.
It is clear from these pages how frequently the world of fashion has turned to China for inspiration. Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
[A] beautifully illustrated book... with delightful analysis of how gender, class,and nationalism have influenced Chinese fashions through the ages. The China Beat
Finnane has produced an impressive history of modern Chinese fashion and much more. It will be a vital cores text for students of Chinese cultural history for decades to come. Robert Culp, The Journal of Asian Studies
Changing Clothes in China is beautifully produced, offering readers a splendid visual presentation of its rich content. Elisabeth Koll, Harvard Business School, Business History Review
This book makes important contributions to scholarship in the areas of both history and fashion. Louise Edwards, American Historical Review
Acknowlegments
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: Fashion, History, Nation
2. Ways of Seeing
3. Fashions in Late Imperial China
4. Soldiers and Citizens
5. The Fashion Industry in Shanghai
6. Qipao China
7. Her Brother's Clothes
8. The New Look in the New China
9. Dressed to Kill in the Cultural Revolution
10. Breaking with the Past
11. Conclusion: Fashion, History, Time
List of Chinese Characters
Technical Notes
Bibliography
Index
Web Features:
  • Listed as one of the Ten Best Books About Chinese Women by The China Beat
  • Read an interview with Antonia Finnane from "The China Beat"

About the Author

Antonia Finnane is reader in history in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She studied at Sydney University, the Beijing Language Institute, and Nanjing University before completing a Ph.D. in Chinese history at the Australian National University. She is the author of Speaking of Yangzhou: A Chinese City, 1550-1850, which was awarded the 2006 Joseph Levenson Book Award for a work on pre-1900 China.