The clothing of the Yi people are generally brightly colored, such as red, yellow, green and orange. The clothing patterns of middle-aged people are less louder than those of young people, mainly adopting light blue, green, purple, green and white which appear solemn and quiet. Elder people use indigo and blue cloths without patterns.
Strong ethnic sense flows over the patterns and laces on the clothing. The colorful decorations mainly adopt gold, silver, copper, jade, stone and bone as material and generally made by local artisans.
The Yi people love to wear Cha’erva and felts. Cha’erva is shaped like a cloak and sewed by thick wool. It is generally 13 pieces, each of which is 7 or 8cm wide and mostly dyed in dark blue. The most beautiful Cha’erva are in the Shengzuo area, which are edged with red and yellow, backing with indigo cloth and hanging a 30-cm tassel. The felt is sewn with about two kilograms of wool but as thin as copper coins, mostly in primary color or blue. They are essential for the Yi people which can be wore as clothes and used as quilts at night.
The Yi men wear their hair long as it is an old tradition. When a boy is four or five years old, a square of hair would be placed in front of his head and pulled into a bun after adulthood. The bun is regarded as a representative of Gods, which is sacred and inviolable that no one can touch and tease. The head is wrapped with an indigo-blue cotton cloth or a silk-knitted headband, forming a pointed cone-like shape on the front and left side of the head. The young tend to tie their buns to be slender and upright to show bravery while the elder tie them thick to show their matureness. The Yi men do not wear bears but in their boyhood they start to wear earrings.
Women's coats are generally made of cotton and silk lined with colorful patterns on the neckline and cuff. The collar is decorated with gold, silver, jewelry and jade.
Women wear pleated skirts made of a wide cloth inlayed a narrow one. Children's skirts are mainly red and white. The clothing of young people are mainly in red, blue and white while the elder are mainly in indigo and blue.
Lace, Yi girls’ Particular Dress
The Yi girls like to wear rimmed clothes with embroidered gold, red, purple or green patterns on the sleeves and chests and fine silver foam inlaid on the collar, which is believed as a talisman for the Yi girls.
Most of the Yi women in Yunnan are good at stitching and embroidery. The clothing of Yi women are mostly left-handed wide-sleeved garments with embroidered patterns in red, gold, purple or indigo on the chest, shoulders, cuffs, or entire clothes, as well as silver bubbles inlaid on the collar. In addition, Yi women also like to embroider various colorful and implied patterns on headscarves, plackets, waistcoats, hems, waistbands, trousers and skirts to create ingenious designs.
The wedding dress is an important measurement for the elders and men to observe a girl’s talent. If a Yi girl cannot do embroidery good, it will be difficult for her to find her Mr Right. Thus, each of the embroidery on the clothing of a Yi girl can be regarded as a fine handicraft.