Vietnamese Dress

vietnamese dressThe ao dai is the native Vietnamese dress. Similar to the Chinese dress the cheongsam, the ao dai dress is long and fitted with slits on the sides worn over pants and is used by Vietnamese women in more casual situations. Ao dai’s are a fusion of modern and conservative Vietnamese culture. The current ao dai has evolved to reflect the history of Vietnam and its preference for being traditional and conservative.

The ao dai was derived from the ao ngu than. It had two flaps, both sewn together at the front and back with a small flap which was hidden under the main flap in the front. The dress seemed to look as if it had two flaps with slits on both sides. This is an attribute of the Vietnamese traditional dress we know today. However, the ao ngu than had much larger flaps and was fitted loosely over the body. It is also button-down as well as a high-collared feature to it much like what we can picture the dress today.

Artist CatTuong of Hanoi conceived a design for a new Vietnamese dress derived from the ao ngu that incorporated the Parisian fashions in 1930. As the materials increased in price, the multi-layered flaps were replaced with wider panels, which discarded the need to sew the panels jointly. The stylish and revamped traditional Vietnamese dress became extremely popular when it was featured in January of 1935 in a newspaper and was promoted by the artist group Tu Luc Van Doan to serve as modern-day national costume. But the stylish and western-influenced costume was phased-out temporarily with the waging of world war ii.

The ao dai has had many versions throughout the years. There were collarless versions made famous by former first lady of south Vietnam madame nhu in 1958. There is also a mini made for everyday use, its panels were knee-length and slits up to the waist. Whatever the design, the ao dai remains a beautiful Vietnamese dress revealing the strong yet feminine side of Vietnamese women.

Check out the Vietnamese Doll dressed in the Vietnamese dress.

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