Daily Life :: Traditional Clothes

A lasting impression for any visitor to Vietnam is the beauty of the women dressed in their long gowns called ao dais. It is a body-hugging, sweeping tunic with long sleeves worn over loose, flowing trousers that brush the floor. The tunic has a high neckline and side slits from the waist to the hem.

Colors often indicate the wearer's status ...
  • young girls wear ao dais in pure white;
  • young unmarried women wear delicate pastels; and
  • married women in brightly-coloured tunic over white/black trousers.
The first ao dai appeared in 1744 when Lord Vu Vuong of the Nguyen Dynasty decreed both men and women should wear buttoned gowns over trousers. Subsequent changes in the design lengthened the top, fitted the bodice to the curves of the body and moved the buttons from the front to an opening along the shoulder and side seam. Later, raglan sleeves were added, creating a diagonal seam running from the collar to the underarm.

Men once wear a variation of the ao dai with shorter and fuller tunic. Today, men generally wear it for traditional dance or music performance during ceremonial occasions.