In Chinese culture there are three central colours: red, black and white.
Red, being the colour of blood, symbolises the positive aspects of life such as happiness, wealth, fame etc. Red is always associated with good luck.
Black, being the colour of faeces is associated with dirt, sin, evil, disasters, sadness, cruelty and suffering among other negative things. Black signifies bad fortune and must not be worn during festivals, wedding celebrations etc. or used in home decoration. Black symbolises a lack of civilisation and backwardness. However, traditions associated with this colour are quickly fading, and among the younger generations black can be frequently seen as a clothing colour.
White symbolises the mother's milk and is intermediate between red and black, balancing the two colours. It signifies moderation, purity, honesty and life, but is also used at funerals as it is believed it can harmonise all elements. It can be used in all rituals and ceremonies as it is essentially neutral. Other colours are classified according to their relative darkness and lightness and associated significance thereof.
There are no specific rules in Chinese custom governing dress. Traditional costumes are rarely worn and clothing is usually chosen for comfort or according to the fashion of the day.
Bright colours are preferred for clothing in Chinese culture, but the colour of one's clothing is generally suited to the environment: for example manual workers and farmers will often wear dark colours because of the nature of their work. Some conventions are considered with regards to age: the elderly are not encouraged to 'dress young', for example t-shirts and jeans.