Vietnamese Traditional Dress Biography
The ao dai (Vietnamese: áo dài) is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly worn by women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pantaloons. The word is pronounced [ʔǎːw zâːj] in the North and [ʔǎːw jâːj] in the South. Áo classifies the item as a piece of clothing. Dài means "long".
The word "ao dai" was originally applied to the outfit worn at the court of the Nguyễn Lords at Huế in the 18th century. This outfit evolved into the áo ngũ thân, a five-paneled aristocratic gown worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by Paris fashions, Nguyễn Cát Tường and other artists associated with Hanoi University redesigned the ngũ thân as a modern dress in the 1920s and 1930s. The updated look was promoted by the artists and magazines of Tự Lực văn đoàn (Self-Reliant Literary Group) as a national costume for the modern era. In the 1950s, Saigon designers tightened the fit to produce the version worn by Vietnamese women today. The dress was extremely popular in South Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. On Tết and other occasions, Vietnamese men may wear an áo gấm (brocade robe), a version of the ao dai made of thicker fabric.
Academic commentary on the ao dai emphasizes the way the dress ties feminine beauty to Vietnamese nationalism, especially in the form of "Miss Ao Dai" pageants, popular both among overseas Vietnamese and in Vietnam itself. "Ao dai" is one of the few Vietnamese words that appear in English-language dictionaries.
From the twentieth century onwards Vietnamese people have also worn clothing that is popular internationally. The Áo dài was briefly banned after the fall of Saigon but made a resurgence. Now it is worn in white by high school girls in Vietnam. It is also worn by receptionists and secretaries. Styles differ in northern and southern Vietnam. The current formal national dress is the áo dài for women, suits or áo the for men.
The "ao dai" ("flowing tunic") has been the traditional dress for Vietnamese women long, long ago. There are many different kinds of ao dai: the four-part flowing tunic had two equal front flaps that women tied together, while the five-part flowing tunic had an additional small front flap that buttoned up onto the right side of the dress.
Different regions of the country have their own styles of flowing tunic. In the north, Vietnamese women usually wear the four-part flowing tunic, refers to as "Ao Tu Than", with a long skirt. The hat is called "Non Quai Thao".
On the right, instead of wearing "non quai thao", Nothern women just simply wear a scarf as a variety.
People in Vietnam wear cotton clothes. Styles differ in northern and southern Vietnam. Many people wear sandals made of old tire rubber(North). (South) Many men and women wear western styled clothing. Some women still wear the traditional au dai. In most rural areas women wear loose white-shirts with skirts. Men in rural areas wear western clothes too. The Vietnamese typically wear lightweight clothing. Rural women wear loose-fitting dark-pants and blouses that are often embroideredin brilliant colors. Conical nats called non la shield their faces from the sun. In the cities, many girls and women wear the traditional au dai, a long tunic worn with loose-fitting pants. However, a growing number of urban women wear dresses and shirts. Rural and working class men typically wear simple shirts and trousers. City men generally wear Western-style clothing.
Commoners had a limited choice of similarly plain and simple clothes for every day use, as well as being limited in the colors they were allowed to use. For a period, commoners were not allowed to wear clothes with dyes other than black, brown or white (with the exception of special occasions such as festivals), but in actuality these rules could change often based upon the whims of the current ruler.
The Áo t? thân or “4-part dress” is one such example of an ancient dress widely worn by commoner women, along with the Áo y?m bodice which accompanied it. Peasants across the country also gradually came to wear silk pajama-like costumes, known as “Áo cánh” in the north and Áo bà ba in the south.
The headgear of peasants often included a plain piece of cloth wrapped around the head (generally called Khan d?ng), or the stereotypical Nón lá (conical hat). For footwear peasants would often go barefoot whereas sandals and shoes were reserved for the aristocracy and royalty.
Monarchs had the exclusive right to wear the color gold, while nobles wore red or purple. Each member of the royal court had an assortment of different formal gowns they would wear at a particular ceremony, or for a particular occasion. The rules governing the fashion of the royal court could change dynasty by dynasty, thus Costumes of the Vietnamese court were quite diverse.