Get to know about Vietnamese traditional clothing

When traveling to Vietnam, you will see women everywhere dressed in beautiful, eye-catching, long dresses. This dress is called an Ao dai and, it is Vietnamese traditional clothing. Now, if you are a cultured person (like me) and have watched Avatar, the last air-bender, these dresses will seem a bit familiar to you. The dresses that Katara wore in the show were designed based on Ao dai. Here is everything you need to know about Ao dai:

Ao dai then and nowThe origin of Vietnamese traditional dress

The story of Ao Dai dates back to the 18th century during the Nguyen Dynasty. Ao Dai was an outfit created especially for the courtiers of Lord Nguyen’s court in Hue. The word “Ao dai” literally translates to “long shirt.” And is the cultural pride of the Vietnamese people. In the 1930s French-trained designer, Cat Tuong (also called Le Mur) redesigned the traditional attire to fit contemporary style. Since then, the dress has evolved many times, yet it has kept its unique essence.

Vietnam costume for all

Ao dai is a dress worn by everyone and, on every occasion including children. Young girls wear white Ao dai as it symbolizes purity. Similarly, white ao dai is also the uniform for many Vietnamese high schools. Besides being the uniform for high schools, it is also the uniform for many occupations such as civil servants, hotel staff, and tour guides. Older unmarried women wear ao dais of soft pastel colors while; older married women dress in darker colors. Women also wear Ao dai on their wedding day. And no, Vietnamese women do not get bored of wearing Ao dai. Because they come in many vivid colors and designs and on top of that are comfortable too.

Men in ao daiMen also wear Vietnamese traditional dress but, it is more common for women. An Ao dai is usually associated with feminity because of the popularity of “Miss Ao dai” pageants. However, men also wear it on certain occasions such as at weddings to show respect to the customs and culture.

Modernized Ao dai

The ancient Ao dai had 4 panels made up of silky, flowing fabric. People wore it with loose trousers. The number of the panels signified a person’s wealth. The wealthier the person, the more panels he/she would wear. Some even wore two ao dai at the same time! Imagine being that rich! However, Ao dai needed some alterations to fit the current fashion sense. Present Ao dai commonly has 2 panels. The dress varies in length. It can be long enough to reach the ground or reach just below the knees. The ancient Ao dai was more loose and boxy. On the other hand, the current one is fitted at the upper body and loose from the waist down. The modern ao dai has such a brilliant design that allows Vietnamese women to flaunt their curves in a flattering yet elegant way.

How to wear it properly

Ao dai would certainly make a great souvenir and wearing the traditional dress of the country you are visiting is always a good idea. If you wear it, do not disrespect the country’s culture by wearing it wrong. In the case of an Ao dai, make sure that you wear it with trousers as it is supposed to be. Don’t wear ao dai with shorts or very short shorts because it is unacceptable. Please remember, improvisation is good but not for Vietnam’s traditional dress.

If you have any questions regarding Ao dai and Vietnamese traditional clothing, please email More Fun Travel.