Choosing a Cheongsam

Simply put, I need a cheongsam/qi pao/Chinese dress to wear at both of our receptions.


Unsimply put, I haven’t really started looking for one yet.

Obvious, right? Go to Chinatown and buy one. Well, I sort of tried. But I got lost in the chaos by myself. Plus I’m deathly afraid of the store owners since a) I don’t speak the language b) I kind of, uh, don’t know what the heck I am doing, and c) I read on Yelp that they criticize you if you’re fat. Well, okay, because of letter “a”, I probably wouldn’t know they were criticizing me, but still!

So bring my mom with me, then?

Well, she doesn’t speak Mandarin/Cantonese/etc. either. My plan was to bring my grandmother. Her answer? Ask your aunt. Urgh. Apparently no one else wants to deal with this either.

However, she also advised me to draw out what I wanted in a gown beforehand, so I’d know what to look for. Okay, I can do that!

  1. Must be red. Aside from being one of our wedding colors, it’s also considered lucky. Not that I believe in color-luck, but that’s besides the point.
  2. Must be the floor length 1-piece kind. You know, the kind with the sexy thigh-slit up the side?
  3. Dragon and phoenix print is preferred, ’cause who doesn’t love dragons? Plus, they are traditional wedding symbols.
  4. Must not be super expensive. Nothing more costly than my wedding dress, so that means a less-than-$300 budget.
  5. Must be the sleeveless halter style. The traditional look with the sleeves makes this wide-shouldered-sewing look like a big brocaded box! Not so fun.

I’m looking for something like this, only imagine that there’s a big gold dragon on it somewhere:

So now I turn to you, readers. Help? Where can I find this? Do I *have* to go to the scary-dress-shop-ladies? Does anyone want to go with me and hold my hand? Is it okay to buy online, or is that too risky? Should I just buy a pre-made dress and alter it myself?

Any other half-Chinese girls out there looking for a dress but too afraid that your not-so-petite torso won’t fit in the tight silk? Erm, that’s a little specific. I’ll try again:

Anyone else wearing a traditional cultural dress? How did you and your dress meet?


Mrs. Sewing

San Mateo, CA/Honolulu, HI
Wedding Date:
July 2010

Related Posts

Add a comment


  1. Member
    xoxokristin 541 posts, Busy bee @ 12:41 am

    Miss Sew you are not fat! Asians are harsh but you have nothing to worry about mmmmkay? That is a hot dress! Hope you find it!

  2. Member
    escapekiken 40 posts, Newbee @ 1:21 am

    Aw I need one of these too! I plan just to get on online…if there’s issues you can always contest it with the credit card company.

  3. Member
    MOHmama 404 posts, Helper bee @ 3:54 am

    Those ladies hold nothing back. I went with my mom and just did the nod-and-smile. The place I went to was pretty nice, but it’s not there anymore. I think there are a few other shops on Grant…

  4. Member
    sewing 2649 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:50 pm

    whew! thanks for the advice! I will have to go through all your suggestions, and soon!

    @CheeseCrackers: definitely will need to check these out. the sf stores i’m more familiar with, but this might be a good alternative!
    @squirt: ooh, good point! thanks! haha. i’ll have to look for one with both then.

  5. Member
    winter 1333 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:37 pm

    i love those dresses.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    A Furisode Episode! | Weddingbee, Guest @ 1:15 pm

    [...] I’m still trying to sort out the whole lack-of-cheongsam issue, I thought I’d take a moment to address another reception dress I’ve been dreaming about – the [...]

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    kbok, Guest @ 3:22 am

    i ordered my cheongsam from too. it turned out just like i had hoped! the quality of the fabric and sewing was fabulous. i overestimated on one of the measurements so my mom had to take it in just a tiny bit, but otherwise it was exactly as i hoped for- in fact i regret that i didn’t get to wear it more during my wedding weekend. boo.

  8. Member
    ramen 349 posts, Helper bee @ 4:25 am

    my cousin and my sister had their cheongsams made @ dragonseed… crazy expensive and they kept telling my sister she needed more padding. so i guess that means she was too skinny.

    i had mine made down here in LA. but honestly, if you are looking for a custom dress, it will probably cost you $200-300+ (at least from my research). A better bet would be to find one you like online and have it altered/tailored to you. OR you could buy a pre-made dress @ one of the stores in SF chinatown/oakland/sj and have that altered.

  9. Member
    sillykar 133 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:02 pm

    Miss Sewing,

    I’ve gone thru the fears of dealing with Chinese shop ladies. If you’re in the San Francisco area, I don’t mind going with you. I love looking at qipaos and wedding dresses! I’ve also learned much about do’s and don’ts in the Chinese culture (from my own wedding mishaps). One of the wedding bees is right – you aren’t really suppose to have dragons only without a phoenix. Old-fashioned relatives might scoff at us for doing so.

    I’ve served as a fashion consultant to a few of my friends, many of which are males (and that’s a lot less interesting than dresses) but I don’t mind at all. Message me if you need any wedding help. Hope my post isn’t too late to be helpfu.

  10. Member
    sewing 2649 posts, Sugar bee @ 12:37 am

    @sillykar:ahh, thanks for your offer, sillykar! i decided to go the online-custom route.. so we’ll see how it turns out..otherwise I’ll be running to chinatown for sure!

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    jienany, Guest @ 4:36 am

    How about the red cheongsam on Maybe you’ll like it! Have a look!

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Eleven, Guest @ 3:49 am

    wonderfull dress i’ve ever seen.

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    siew yuen, Guest @ 11:07 am

    lovely dress es I like these too!!

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    siew yuen, Guest @ 11:19 am

    @siew yuen:
    Can you post your cheongsam pics?

  15. Member
    AquaSands 270 posts, Helper bee @ 2:54 pm

    This looks almost like what you’re looking for…

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Ma xia, Guest @ 2:04 am

    Thanks for your sharing, I have just get my cheongsam dress from, it is just my dream wedding dress.

add a comment

Find Amazing Vendors