A Chinese Women’s Club Celebration, 1951

From the Los Angeles Times collection at UCLA Special Collections

These Chinese-American women are celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival according to the Los Angeles Times. If you look carefully (or go to the original site and enlarge the photo) you can see a dragon boat center piece on the table. All three women wear elegant qipoa, or cheongsam, dresses with piping, elaborate frog closures, and mandarin collars.   My favorite is the long sleeved brocade version worn by the older woman on the left. What color do you think it is?

The photo reminds us of the many overlapping worlds of fashion in an immigrant country like the United States.  While some immigrant women tried to fit in to their new communities very quickly, others attempted to hold on to familiar forms of dress.  Special events, like this festival, inspired special clothing.  I would love to know what these women wore on ordinary days.

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1 Response to A Chinese Women’s Club Celebration, 1951

  1. Susan says:

    There is an annual dragon boat festival held in the San Francisco Bay Area (in late September, when we usually have perfect weather….) The California Dragon Boat Association is very active! http://sfdragonboat.com/
    Chances are, that long-sleeved qi pao is red, but the wearer would look elegant no matter what!

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