These garments are usually made of cotton for everyday wear and of silk, satin or the better quality synthetic fabrics for formal wear. The masculine patterns are mostly checks or squares or sometimes vertical stripes or horizontal circular bands. Most men shun flowered patterns but they do sometimes wear the silk "acheik", the horizontal "wave patterned" bands of bright coloured silks on ceremonial occasions. The "acheik" is a traditional royal design for both and women and it is said that the ancient designers were inspired by the waves and ripples of the
The Kachin and
The ladies of course have a wider choice. They wear patterns of flowers, stars, checks, stripes, or even impressionistic splashes of all colours and shapes. Some prefer self coloured plain textiles of bright or sombre hues. The "longyi" is thus the basic lower garment of
In the old days, men wore a stiff-collared shirt, buttoned down the front and it was usually white. It is the same as a western style shirt, and this has been worn ever since they abandoned the traditional
Formerly top wear for the ladies consisted of a waist-length blouse known as an "Aingyi". At one time its length was waist length but worn to show the "Ahtet Hsin". But later it was further lengthened to just about cover the black strip of cloth on the ladies’ longyi. The blouse had a squarish flap that was buttoned at the side, somewhat like the top half of the Chinese Cheongsam. The blouse had no fixed buttons, just loops. Buttons of all shapes and colours would then be fastened on these loops. Each button had a ring through which the loop would be passed and then slipped over the button to keep it in place. There were always five loops for the set of five detachable buttons – one below at the front, three at the side and one at the neckline.
The ladies could thus keep a variety of buttons and select them to match the skirt and blouse to be worn. Wealthy ladies wore buttons of gold and diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls and other precious and semi-precious gems. There was another style popular in the 1930s. It was a blouse with a front opening with button loops down the front. This style was called the "Yin Si", meaning as opposed to the "Yin Hpone" with the opening at the side. Before World War II only long sleeves were worn, and at one time the sleeves were loose and flared at the bottom. The jackets were made of thin coloured or printed material.
The plain white blouses often had embroidery on the hems of sleeves or waist. Then during World War II ladies began to shorten the length of their sleeves. One reason given was that cloth was scarce during the war;in fact it was unavailable. But the ladies’ jackets, after many washings, began to show signs of wear and tear especially at the elbows. So some enterprising
The quarter length sleeves also came into fashion together with a stiff chinese style collar. Although the Chinese collar is no longer very popular the quarter-length sleeves has now claimed a permanent spot in
So when the fashion re-emerged after the War it still failed to gain the approval of our straight-laced
Today, ladies’ top wear, especially casual wear has gone overboard. The traditional
Even the calf-length longyi that was in vogue a short time ago, is over its heyday and the
It is true today’s fashions have brought about some changes in ladies’ longyis. They may have slits at the sides, front or back. They may have a false front flap and maybe worn by zipping it up at the side or back. They may also wear it shorter than the traditional longyi. But the cut and pattern is still recognizable as a