When Miss Hong Kong 2014 was crowned on Aug 31, she and two runners-up were all wearing the same modernized Mandarin dress in floor length. The gown keeps the standup collar and column silhouette of the traditional Mandarin dress, but goes without Chinese frog buttons. Another difference is, instead of two side slits, this modern version has one high slit on the center left to reveal most of the left leg.
This design came out in summer but is very typical of fall 2014. These days, many fall fashion window displays feature sleek evening gowns that look Mandarin-dress-inspired. They all come in a column silhouette, just as a typical Mandarin dress does, but instead of having two side slits, they usually have only one slit, which can be in any position.
The one-slit designs look fashionable, but are they leg-flattering?
Take a close look at the photo above, and you will see bulky calves. Aren’t you surprised? These beauty pageant winners have model-like figures. It’s hard to believe their calves are so thick! Most likely, that’s not the way their calves normally look –- the center-left slit just doesn’t do them justice!
A high slit on one side of the front panel is actually an UNFLATTERING design. Here’s another example.
The white gown on Emma Watson has a high slit on the center right of the front panel, through which her right leg looks thick, too. However, Emma Watson’s legs usually look much leaner and prettier when she wears other dresses. Proof is in the photo below.
See, her legs look so slender underneath the short dress, but her right leg looks bulky through the center-right high slit of that white gown. It just means the front panel is NOT a good place for a high slit.
While modern gowns don’t need to copy the two side slits of the traditional Mandarin dress, it’s still better to put their one high slit on the side! Let’s look at Kylie Jenner’s photo below.
As you can see, Kylie’s legs look lean and nice through the side slit. How come the position of the slit make such a difference?
It’s because calf muscles are on the inner calves, which won’t show through side slits. A slit on the front panel, on the other hand, reveals the muscular inner calf. If it’s only one calf that’s exposed, the calf will look thicker in contrast with the narrow slit. That’s why Emma Watson’s right leg looks bulky through the center-right slit of her white gown despite how lean her legs usually look.
For the sake of creating new trends, fashion designers may launch all kinds of crazy designs, but it’s us consumers who have to figure out how to avoid becoming a fashion victim. Now, we know high slits are in, but we also know a front panel slit is unflattering, so what should we do? Easy — we just pick long dresses with high SIDE slits to be trendy and look fantastic at the same time.
Classic designs usually have good reasons behind them. They must flatter most people to stand the test of time. So, when it comes to slits, we should look no further than those in Mandarin dresses, which have been classic in China for centuries.
Below is a modernized Mandarin dress somewhat similar to that floral gown on Miss Hong Kong.
This Mandarin dress also goes without Chinese frog buttons, and it comes with a pastel floral print on white, too. In the meantime, it’s more flattering than the Miss Hong Kong dress not only because it comes with two side slits instead of one center-left slit, but also because its floral print only appears on the front panel — colorblocking is always slimming.
If you are a skinny lady who can do without the slimming effect, here is another long Mandarin dress with a subtle floral print on white silk.
At your next formal event, one of the two Mandarin dresses shown above will make you resemble Miss Hong Kong without optically thickening your legs!
If you prefer darker or stronger colors than pastels, here is a Mandarin-dress-inspired evening gown that will take your breath away.
With hand-painted pink peony flowers and gold leaves on hunter green silk, this gown is as glamorous as it gets! It will make you turn heads at any gala. Plus, since peony symbolizes “wealth” and “status” in Chinese culture, it can be an auspicious dress for your engagement or an elderly relative’s birthday party.
Speaking of celebrations, it’s a Chinese tradition to host a big dinner banquet one month after a baby’s birth. In the West, new parents will wait until the baby’s first birthday to put on such a party. Either way the new mom may not have lost all the baby weight before the occasion. If that’s you, what would be the most slimming dress for you?
This is an imitation of what a Taiwanese actress, nicknamed Little S, wore to celebrate her baby’s recent birth. The dark purple and the way the solid silk fabric drapes can both work to slenderize you.
It’s worth mentioning that Little S is 5’1” and a half (156 cm) according to official records, and some people even say she’s only five feet (152 -153 cm), but she looks quite tall in the photo above. That’s what a long gown in the column silhouette does for you — it optically elongates you.
If you want to look taller, take advantage of the current trend to get some Mandarin-dress-inspired column gowns this fall! Just keep in mind to choose side slits over front slits. Then you will love how you look!