with kimonos, i've heard that girls with curvier bodies have to wear padding underneath to keep the silhouette. does something similar apply when wearing hanfu?
Hi, thanks for the question!
No – unlike kimono, when wearing hanfu, there is no requirement for girls with curvier bodies to wear padding underneath to keep the silhouette. This is because hanfu and kimono have different desired silhouettes.
The ideal kimono silhouette is cylindrical/tubular, with completely straight lines. Hence, curves are flattened and smoothed out using padding:
Hanfu silhouettes, on the other hand, display curves to some degree. When it came to the female body, the ancient Chinese didn’t care much for the bust or butt, but a slim waist was an object of great admiration. Many ancient poems and legends have linked attractiveness with a thin waist. For example, a legend dating to more than 2,000 years ago says that the King of Chu loved narrow waists so much, it led to palace ladies starving themselves. The beauty icon of the Han dynasty, Empress Fei-yen, was notorious for her tiny waist – she was so slim that she could “dance on a palm”. Slim waists were called “willow waists/柳腰 (liu yao)”, with “willow” being a metaphor for a narrow waist and slender body. This ideal willowy silhouette is depicted in many traditional Chinese paintings of beautiful women:
Hanfu emphasizes this ideal silhouette, due to how it is usually tied at the waist with a thin sash:
An exception to the preference for willowy figures occurred during the Tang dynasty, when voluptuous bodies and ample curves were admired.
In addition, hanfu is idealized for its “flowiness”, and is often worn while dancing – which would be very difficult to do with extra padding underneath:
For more comparisons between hanfu and kimono, please see my kimono tag.
Hope this helps!