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Year of the Horse: Fashion Inspired by Chinese New Year

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After my last Style Abroad post featuring Taipei, I thought it would be fun to talk about Chinese New Year and introduce some of the traditions surrounding the festival for those who’ve never celebrated it. And perhaps we should call it the Year of the Clothes Horse, since I’ll also be sharing some outfits inspired by Chinese New Year traditions!

About Chinese New Year

  • Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is a major holiday celebrating the first day of the new year according the Chinese lunar calendar.
  • This year, Chinese New Year’s Day falls on Friday, January 31st. The festivities traditionally last from Chinese New Year’s Eve until the 15th day of the new year.
  • It’s celebrated in countries with significant Chinese influence, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, as well as Chinatowns all over the world.

Outfits Inspired by Chinese New Year Traditions

Ready to ring in the new year…again? Try out these festive outfits inspired by Chinese New Year traditions:

Out With The Old, In With The New

Chinese new year look
Product Information: Top, Jeans, Flats, Bag, Keychain, RingNecklace, Scarf

In the days leading up to the New Year, every household undergoes a thorough cleaning. This symbolizes the clearing out of bad luck from the previous year. However, once the fifteen days of celebration begin, you’re not supposed to do any cleaning or sweeping around the house, for fear that you’ll sweep away the good luck that’s just arrived with the new year! Additionally, many families decorate their windows and doors with red paper cutouts and couplets to invite prosperity into their homes.

Pre-New Year’s is also prime shopping time, as you’re supposed to wear new clothes on New Year’s Day. This casual and comfortable outfit would be perfect for a bit of family bonding time cleaning up the house and then a jaunt off to the mall with friends. Make sure to incorporate the color red, as it’s considered very lucky. The number “8″ is also auspicious because its Mandarin pronunciation sounds like the word for “prosper.” Add a couple of equine touches to commemorate this year’s zodiac sign, the Horse.

Family Reunion

Year of the horse inspired outfit
Product Information: Blazer, Top, Trousers, Skirt, Heels, Eyeshadow, BangleClutch

The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is a major event tantamount to Christmas dinner in the Western world. The entire family gathers to celebrate and feast. This meal always includes at least one fish dish, because the word for fish and the word for abundance sound the same in Chinese (they are both pronounced “yu”); the consumption of fish is supposed to bring prosperity to the family.

If you’re celebrating a family reunion anytime soon, why not try out this fun outfit that’s festive but not so trendy as to shock some of your more conservative (or just plain disapproving – hey, every family’s got one) relatives? A scarlet blazer perfectly complements either a pair of metallic trousers or a skirt, while a gilded cap-toe livens up classic black pumps.

Accessorize with a fish bangle and a horse-emblazoned clutch (this one’s a pricey Diane von Furstenberg limited edition piece commemorating Chinese New Year, but any party clutch would work!) Finally, jazz up your makeup look with shimmery copper eyeshadow. Again, this horse-inspired palette is a bit expensive, but any similar eyeshadow would do the trick.

Red Envelopes

Red envelopes outfit
Product Information: Jacket, Dress, Heels, Necklace, Earrings, Clutch, Envelope Photo

Instead of exchanging gifts, elders present children with red envelopes (hong bao), which are stuffed with brand new currency. While this custom isn’t limited to Chinese New Year (for example, newlyweds usually receive wedding gifts in the form of red envelopes), this was always my favorite part of the New Year celebrations… can you blame me?

For a party-ready look inspired by this awesome tradition, start off with a flirty frock in the standard envelope hue. A sparkly gold jacket and sultry lace heels are great statement pieces; tone down the drama with delicate jewelry like a coin necklace and tiny horse stud earrings. Finally, tuck an envelope clutch (red envelopeenvelope clutch, get it?) under your arm for a million-dollar look!

What did you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Do you celebrate the Lunar New Year? What’s your favorite tradition associated with the holiday? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Posted on on January 29, 2014 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , ,

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13 Responses to “Year of the Horse: Fashion Inspired by Chinese New Year”

  1. 1
    January 29th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Love it! I’m going into the city over the weekend and completely forgot it was Chinese New year! Definitely going to visit Chinatown and wear red and gold :)

  2. 2
    January 29th, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Other than hong bao (ringing up the relatives from the mainland to wish them happy tidings=$$), my absolute favorite thing about Chinese New Years would be the food; we always have at least 2-3 giant food festivities around this time of the year and it is glorious.

  3. 3
    January 29th, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Something we didn’t plan but my family got together for an early Chinese New Years celebration this pat Sunday and quite a few of us were wearing red plaid and check shirts. Incidentally, my shirt matched the tablecloth exactly.

    What I’ve been told is that wearing white is taboo because it represents poverty or death.

  4. 4
    January 29th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    This is awesome! I like the third outfit the most (:

  5. 5
    January 29th, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    What a great idea for outfit inspiration!

  6. 6
    January 29th, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I love this inspiration! The simple black, white, red, and metallic palette make for interesting and easy to put together outfits. I really want to travel to Japan for study abroad, but I love all Asian cultures.

  7. 7
    January 29th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Great post! I love all the outfits!

  8. 8
    January 30th, 2014 at 12:15 am

    I’m been reading college fashion for three years, this is my first time to see a post dedicate to Chinese New Year. Keep up the good work ~ Love all the outfits too :D

  9. 9
    January 30th, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Hello! Thank you for making a post (finally) about new year! But could you title it just plain Lunar New year? China is not the only country that celebrates this, and “Chinese New year” implies that it is specific only to China.

  10. 10
    January 30th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    @Hanh: Glad you brought this up! I realize that Lunar New Year is celebrated in many countries, which is discussed in the intro of the article, but I titled it “Chinese New Year” because I’m only familiar with traditions pertaining to the Chinese celebration of the New Year. I didn’t want to ascribe the customs discussed in the article to other cultures that don’t necessarily celebrate the same way, if that makes sense.

  11. 11
    January 30th, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Love this post! My mom is Chinese, and man do I miss receiving those red envelopes. Funny how they were abundant when you’re a kid and don’t need anything, and when you’re grown and need money they’re no where to be found, lol. I love those green white and pink coconuts strips too!

  12. 12
    January 31st, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    yay for chinese new year!

    @ chelsea, i always thought you got the red envelopes until you got married, & once you get married, you give them out to the kiddies & single relations. at least that’s what i was taught. good reason to delay tying the knot! :)

  13. 13
    March 26th, 2014 at 7:17 am

    The idea of celebrating “The Chinese new year’ seems awesome and the outfits and accessories shared are just fabulous.I am so glad that you post this,it’s totally worth it am telling you!

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