As Lunar New Year approaches, families all around the world prepare for colourful celebrations full of food, fireworks, decorations and lion and dragon dances.
Perhaps unlike other holidays, what you wear on Lunar New Year is just as important as the celebrations themselves. One of the traditions associated with new year celebrations is purchasing beautiful new clothing. Buying new clothing items and wearing them to attend Lunar New Year celebrations is part of the festivities; it’s a symbol of starting the year afresh.
But you’ll need to choose carefully.
There are some do’s, and dont’s when it comes to what to wear on Lunar New Year. In Chinese culture, certain colours represent either good or bad fortune, so it’s important to consider thoughtfully the colours you wear during Lunar New Year celebrations.
In this guide, we explore what to wear on Lunar New Year to invite good fortune and prosperity into your future.
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is the reset of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar.
Also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, which is 15 days later.
The lunar calendar is based on the moon cycles, so the exact dates vary yearly but generally fall between January 21 and February 20.
Lunar New Year has been celebrated for thousands of years and is believed to have originated in the old legend of Nian.
The legend tells the story of Nian, a beast who feasted on human flesh on New Year’s Day. It is said that the beast feared the colour red, loud noises and fire, so on New Year’s Day, people hung red paper decorations on their doors, burned lanterns and lit firecrackers to keep the beast away.
How is Lunar New Year Celebrated?
Lunar New Year celebrations are all about getting rid of the old and embracing the new. It is also a time to reunite with loved ones and enjoy delicious food.
In Chinese culture, around ten days before the new year period, houses are thoroughly cleaned to remove previous bad fortune and bad luck. This is known as the ‘sweeping of the grounds’.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are typically reserved for family celebrations and religious ceremonies.
On New Year’s Day, families give each other gifts and red envelopes containing small amounts of money.
On the last day of the New Year celebrations, the Lantern Festival begins. Colourful lanterns light up homes, and traditional foods such as fagao (fortune cake — we love this recipe) and yuan xiao (sticky rice balls) are enjoyed.
Other celebrations include
- Hanging decorations
- Eating New Year’s Eve dinner with family
- Watching dragon dances
- Offering sacrifices to ancestors
In the spirit of embracing the new, celebrations also involve purchasing new clothing and items for the home.
Just like the Christmas period in Western countries, China experiences a significant economic boom during the festive period.
Where is Lunar New Year Celebrated?
Lunar New Year is typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries, though Lunar New Year is celebrated by people of Asian descent across the world.
The Spring Festival is enjoyed by other countries like South Korea and Vietnam, which also have their own celebrations known as Seollal and Tết Nguyên Đán, respectively.
How Does Clothing Relate to the Lunar New Year?
As mentioned, the Lunar New Year is all about bringing in the new.
One of the key traditions is welcoming the coming Spring with new, fresh clothing. Historically, during this period, farmers would make new clothing to set themselves up for the season.
Today, Lunar New Year is an opportunity for people to purchase new clothes, special foods and luxury products to ring in the new year.
What Colour to Wear for Lunar New Year
When it comes to what to wear for Lunar New Year, colour is the most important feature.
In Chinese culture, however, colours are often symbolic. That’s why certain colours should be worn during celebratory periods, while others should not.
So, what colour should your Lunar New Year clothing be?
Lunar New Year: red and gold clothing
Red is an important colour in Chinese culture, but do you wear red on Lunar New Year?
The answer is yes.
If you’re unsure what to wear for the festivities, your starting point should always be red.
In Chinese culture, the colour red is linked with good fortune and prosperity. The colour is typically associated with periods of celebration—think public holidays and weddings.
Red is also commonly used in Lunar New Year gifting. Using red wrapping paper for gifts and putting red banners on your door during celebrations is seen as a measure of good luck.
The purpose of wearing red for the Lunar New Year is to bring good fortune into the next season and year to come.
So, when it comes to what to wear on Lunar New Year, will you need to wear red from head to toe? Not necessarily.
While your outfit should have at least some elements of red (the redder, the better!), you can also look to gold accent pieces.
Gold is considered a prestigious and celebratory colour in Chinese culture, so a red outfit with gold undertones or accessories is the perfect Lunar New Year look.
Looking for Lunar New year gifting ideas? Discover the best luxury Lunar New Year gift ideas to make the Year of the Water Rabbit a wonderful and prosperous year.
Lunar New Year: colours to avoid
Now, for what not to wear on Lunar New Year.
It’s best to avoid black or white outfits, as, in Chinese culture, these colours are typically worn during mourning.
Wearing all-white or all-black outfits during times of celebration can be confusing, as this signals you are mourning or conveying a negative message.
So, if you are going to wear black or white during lunar celebrations, make sure it’s not the main feature of your outfit.
For example, something with white or black lining or piping is appropriate, as is pairing a red dress with white sneakers, but steer clear of a black dress!
Lunar New Year: What to Wear
Two Chinese garments are traditionally worn during the Lunar New Year: for women, a cheongsam, which is a high-neck, form-fitting dress with short sleeves and a side split. For men, the Tang suit is a men’s jacket with an upturned collar.
Today, people celebrating Lunar New Year wear dresses and skirts to t-shirts and jeans.
You may also like to consider garments that showcase the Chinese zodiac sign of the new year. 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, so items featuring this zodiac sign will be extra special!
No matter what you wear on Lunar New Year, the most important thing to remember is that your clothing should be new and should feature red and gold.
David Jones Lunar New Year
In need of some styling inspiration?
We’ve created a curated collection to help you work out what to wear on Lunar New Year.
Our Lunar New Year collection is all about celebrating and starting anew. The range features a variety of red and gold pieces designed to inspire your holiday dressing.
From Lunar New Year dresses and clothing to jewellery and accessories, this collection has you covered no matter your style preference.
Below, we’ve selected some of our favourite pieces from the collection.
Lunar New Year dresses
When you’re considering what to wear on Lunar New Year, a luxurious red or gold dress is the ultimate option. Think red and gold silk dresses in slip or wrap silhouettes. Here are some of our top picks.
Welcome the new year with champagne and a Champagne Sequinned Maxi Dress. Another masterful design from Self Portrait, this dress has a sheer deep-v neckline and subtly puffed mid-length sleeves, which frame its elegant body-skimming silhouette. For those who prefer a mid-length gown, the Champagne Sequinned Midi Dress is your new obsession.
Meet the Soul Dress, the show-stopping evening wear piece, is an elegant option for any Lunar New Year occasion. This dress is sure to lead the way for good fortune and prosperity, featuring an adjustable high neck and dazzling sequins all the way down to the hem.
Crafted with sustainably sourced viscose, the Nocturnal Wrap Dress wraps against the body, creating a flattering, dazzling shape. Featuring wrist cuffs, a generous sleeve and a v-neckline, this bright, bold red dress is a perfect example of Lunar New Year dressing.
Lunar New Year outfits
Not a fan of dresses? Go with separates instead. Opt for a red top and skirt set or a red-and-white printed top and shorts set. Our favourite thing about separates? They’re effortlessly re-wearable! You can mix and match with your favourite wardrobe staples once celebrations have wrapped up.
A luxury skirt that will feel at home in your wardrobe long after the celebrations have finished. This skirt features a stunning signature drape imbued with the craftsmanship Bianca Spender is known for in luxe camel silk satin.
A versatile sweater, this slim-fit HUGO BOSS design will transition from new year festivities to office wear, causal weekends, and more. The yarns are blended with soft wool for comfort, and the polished detailing makes for a luxury fit for every wear.
Lunar New Year earrings, necklaces, and accessories
No Lunar New Year outfit is complete without jewellery and accessories. These are the final touches that can elevate your look with minimal fuss. They also provide the perfect opportunity to add a bit more red or gold to your look.
Whether you’re looking for a Lunar New Year gift for a loved one or treating yourself to something special, the Qeelin Petite Wulu Necklace is a standout. Featuring a diamond and red agate pendant, this exquisite 18K rose gold chain necklace is the perfect Lunar New Year accessory.
Alternatively, the Qeelin Petite Wulu Bracelet is the ideal finishing touch to any new year outfit. The rose gold chain and sparkling red agate pendant stand to bring good fortune and prosperity in the year to come.
Wondering what to wear for Lunar New Year? Dazzle as you enter the new year with the Christian Louboutin So Kate Pumps. Arriving in striking red patent leather, these pumps are ready to inspire your new year styling.
What to Wear on Lunar New Year with David Jones
When you’re planning what to wear on Lunar New Year, remember these two pointers:
- Go for something new
- Focus on red and gold hues
With these rules in mind, your Lunar New Year look will be fit for those special, colourful celebrations.
Time to get shopping! Explore our Lunar New Year collection to treat yourself to a new outfit or to pick up gifts for loved ones.