Taking Style Cues From the Films of Zhang Yimou

Zhang Yimou's The Story of Qui Ju, The Road Home and the Padded Coat

I finished undergrad with a degree in Comparative Litertature and a focus in Film Studies. Both terms elicit confusion or put-on interest when spoken to chatty Lyft drivers, friends of friends of friends at bars and people I'm hoping will give me a job.

The very first film class I took was during winter quarter of my freshmen year. It was a film directors series where each quarter focused on one director/auteur (ugh look at me using words from my degree. It's all coming back to me now). Anyway, my course was all about the Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou. I admittedly had only known of him through Seth Cohen and Taylor Townsend geeking out about House of Flying Daggers or Hero on The OC. But I knew I wanted to take a film class and this one fit into my commuter schedule. On the very first day of class we watched the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, which Zhang Yimou directed. It was over.

Little did I know that class would lead me to follow that professor around and take five or six classes with him over the course of my college career, fall in love with Chinese film, martial arts films and led me to finding my major.

But that's not the only thing that's stuck with me. There was an article of clothing in the films that I kept seeing over and over that I still think about every year when winter rolls around. The traditional Chinese padded coat.

Two of his films stand out to me the most in regards to the padded coat.

The Story of Qiu Ju. It's a dramedy about a pregnant peasant woman (played by the beautiful Gong Li) on a quest to find justice for her husband after he's kicked in the groin by the village head. Most of the film is her traveling back and forth from her rural village to a nearby town. And it's winter, so she's wearing tons of amazing layers.

That red is so classic. And we could all learn a little something from Qui Ju about layering: a men's oversized blazer over your padded jacket. Amazing.

Another Zhang Yimou film I refer to when I think of the padded coat is The Road Home, which I like to describe as the Chinese The Notebook.


OK forget about the padded coat, look at those padded pants!

I was inspired to write this post after seeing a girl and fellow spectator at my boyfriend's cyclo cross race. She was wearing a gorgeous olive green short padded jacket. So I asked her where it was from: Madewell!

I'm definitely considering picking one up (although I did just buy this quilted coat from Vans). And in case I'm not the only one into this padded coat vibe, I thought I'd tell y'all about it!


Madewell Quilted Military Jacket, available at Nordstrom - $128

New Canada Goose Styles for Women, Now at NORDSTROM.

Diana Le

Diana Le

Diana is the co-creator and Editor-in-Chief of Oatmeal Cardigan. She works as a copywriter by day and moonlights as a texting guru by night.