Chinese New Year Clothes & Outfits - When to Wear

There are so many special Chinese New Year traditions that are real eye-openers for the Westerners, such as the New Year red envelope, New Year Eve’s dinner, and the New Year clothes!

For Chinese people, especially the children, the Chinese New Year clothes, outfits, and dresses are important part of what create lasting memories and make the holiday season even more beautiful and delightful.

So how did the custom of wearing new clothes and shoes for the New Year come about? What does it signify?

Chinese New Year clothes

Why New Clothes on Lunar New Year?

Wearing new clothes and shoes for the New Year is an ancient custom. It was documented during the Northern and Southern Dynasties that "all the elders and young people would update their clothes and crowns" on New Year's Day. During the Song Dynasty, on New Year's Day, people dressed in brand-new clothing and hanged out together.

There are mainly three reasons:

1. Wearing new clothes means getting rid of the old and welcoming the new. Wearing new clothes represents a new start for the coming year, which is bound to open up a new situation and find a new way out.

2. Wearing new clothes can ward off evil spirits: In ancient times, during the Spring Festival, people had to ward off the New Year beasts. Wearing new clothes can ward off evil spirits and drive away evil spirits to lower the auspiciousness of such a symbol.

3. Good Luck in the New Year: Start by wearing new clothes to welcome good luck in the New Year.

What Traditional Clothes do Chinese Wear?

Red Tang Suit

During the Chinese New Year, many people will choose to wear red Tang suit. Tang suit is a traditional Chinese dress, which is widely used in various festive occasions for its simplicity and solemnity.


The cheongsam is a traditional dress favoured by women. It is usually made of silk with brilliant colours and fine embroidery. Women wearing cheongsams look graceful and full of oriental flavour.

Chinese New Year outfits


Although red coloured clothes are suitable for Chinese New Year, try not to choose a whole set of red hanfu as it is not suitable for daily wear. You can choose hanfu sets with red items, e.g., a red short jacket with a horse-faced skirt.

When to Wear the New Clothes

According to traditional Chinese customs, new clothes are worn on the night of New Year's Eve or the first day of the New Year. Every New Year, people always wear new clothes as a way to start a new year.

What color to wear on Chinese New Year?

Red is the colour of the Chinese New Year

During the Spring Festival, everyone wears new clothes. And most of the new clothes are mainly in red colour, which means good luck.

Red is very important in traditional Chinese culture and has now become the representative colour of China. Many people in the West will think of Chinese red as their first impression of China. The colour red symbolises luck and happiness in China, which also comes from the worship of the sun god and the god of the earth. Red was worshipped in ancient times as the colour of fire and the colour of life's blood.

Some people say that wearing red on New Year's Day is a symbol of good luck and has the effect of driving away evil spirits and protecting the body. So every New Year's Eve, people will wear red clothes to turn bad luck into good fortune and eliminate disasters.

>> Top Ten Legends and Stories about Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year clothes for children

Taboos about Chinese New Year Clothes & Outfits

Don’t wear black

In traditional Chinese culture, black is an unlucky colour. If you wear black in the Lunar New Year, it will make people feel too heavy, thus losing the lively atmosphere.

Don’t wear yellow underwear

Yellow has the power of deterrence. Although it can deter demons and evil spirits, it can also be displeasing to the gods. During the lunar New Year, one's yang energy is heavy and it is difficult for demons to offend. Therefore, wearing yellow underwear is the same as putting a film on the surface of the body to deter the gods.

Not to wear clothes on New Year's Eve before removing the tags

Even if the clothes are new, the labels are still old. If the old labels are not removed on New Year's Eve, where can we get rid of the old in the New Year? 

Don't wear clothes directly from the wardrobe

When you wear new clothes, you should not wear them directly from the wardrobe. 

A wardrobe that has been closed for a long period of time will inevitably produce a dark, unlucky and stale atmosphere. As a result, new clothes placed in the wardrobe will also be more or less infected.

When you take out the new clothes from the wardrobe, it is best to shake the clothes to disperse the dirt and cloudy air, before putting on them.

Keep reading:

  • Best Chinese New Year Gift Ideas for Family, Friends, kids
  • Happy Chinese New Year Greetings, Wishes and Sayings

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