The qipao is a fitted gown with a high neck. Some groups refer to the dresses as cheongsam, though this term is less common since for certain groups it explicitly refers to clothing worn by men. Qipaos began as loosely fitted robes and evolved into the slimmer styles, as seen today. Though dresses of many different styles are considered qipaos, for brides, a short-sleeve, floor-length style is the most common. That said, there is plenty of opportunity for customization.
Most qipaos are made of heavy silk, satin, or jacquard fabrics that are woven or embroidered with a design or pattern. Some jacquard fabrics have an allover pattern, while others feature a single motif. If you have a slender frame and want to create curves, consider using a heavier fabric like a brocade or jacquard -- the dress will hold its own a bit more, giving the illusion of a shapelier frame. If it’s a summertime wedding, opt for breathable silk instead.
A red dress with gold embroidery is the most traditional look for a qipao, but these days, more brides are bending tradition. For example, you might opt for a different hue if you are more interested in matching your color scheme. It’s your call when it comes to color, but keep in mind that particularly if you have family members who are very traditional, you would do well to avoid inauspicious or otherwise unlucky colors, like black or gray (these beliefs vary among different groups within China and the Chinese diaspora). Another option: Stick to traditional red for the base color, and then use another hue or two in the pattern.
There are many overall qipao style options to consider. Collars may be different heights, and sleeves different lengths (though in the latter case, sleeveless or short-sleeve styles are most common). Button-closures also vary from the strictly functional to the wildly decorative. Lastly, you should consider the overall shape and length of the dress. A fitted, floor-length dress is the norm, but you should explore your options if you don’t think that style is for you. It’s all about finding a balance between tradition and what makes you look and feel beautiful.
[source : http://chinese.weddings.com/articles/chinese-wedding-quipao-basics.aspx]