China / Society

Classic costume becoming chic for graduates

By Tong Hao (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-02 01:55

Classic costume becoming chic for graduates


Dressed in traditional uniforms, students from Nanjing University pose for graduation photos. Such styles of photos are popular among graduates now. [Photo by Lang Congliu / for China Daily] 

College graduates posing for photos in baccalaureate gowns are always a sight on campuses in early summer in China.

Perhaps even more eye-catching than them, though, are their classmates in traditional costume.

Zhou Jing, a female student who will receive a diploma from Ginling College of Nanjing Normal University this summer, decided to pose for her graduation photos wearing a costume students often wore between 1911 and 1949.

"I saw a picture online of that time and I thought the costumes were very beautiful and represented knowledge and wisdom," Zhou said. "So I planned to pose for my graduation photos in that costume."

The costume she wore for graduation consisted of a sky-blue coat and black knee-length skirt.

"I also said my classmates should pose for these types of photos, and they all agreed," she said.

They rented 36 costumes from her college for 20 yuan ($3) each a day. Before donning them and stepping in front of the cameras, they had already had photos taken of themselves in baccalaureate gowns.

The photos they posed for on May 26 were the subject of praise and admiration and even attracted the media's notice.

"I just wanted to have a good way to remember wearing the costume, and had never thought our pictures would become popular," Zhou said.

Chen Jing, a student counselor at Nanjing University, said she has seen many students wearing traditional costume in recent days as they pose for graduation photos.

"The female students in traditional costume have become the most beautiful and refreshing sights on campus," Chen said.

Male students have also taken to wearing a traditional outfit, the Zhongshan suit, which was introduced to the country by Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the 1911 Revolution in China. Chen, though, said she thinks female students are more likely than male to wear traditional costumes.

Besides posing for graduation photos in baccalaureate gowns and coat-skirt costumes, Xie Jingran, a student at the Nanjing-based Southeast University's art school, also had a picture taken of herself wearing a cheongsam, or Qipao in Chinese, a tight-fitting dress introduced in the 1920s in Shanghai.

"I saw many students posing for photos in the coat-skirt costume but very few in Qipao," she said. "So I decided to do that because I thought it could leave a deep impression on others."

Beyond Nanjing, students in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Shenyang and other places have taken up the practice in recent years of posing for graduation photos in traditional costumes. Some students even wear types of dress that were common in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907).

"I'm happy to see graduates wearing traditional costumes when they pose for photos, because that can fully show the students' individuality," said Feng Lei, a teacher at Beijing International Studies University. "College students should not be restricted by rules or conventions."

When asked what he thinks about some graduation photos that show young women baring their legs or behaving in similar ways, Feng said: "There is a limit to everything. I think a student should not do indecent things just to get attention. That could have a bad influence on an entire class and even a college."

Mo Jinwei contributed to this story.


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