Ao Dai

Vietnamese Traditional Dresses: Ao Dai, Non La, Hmong, and Cham Ethnic Clothing

Clothing is an important and integral part of any culture and is often overlooked when talking about culture. With such a rich and diverse culture, one can find a unique dress pattern in the traditional clothing of Vietnam. With about 60 different ethnic groups, Vietnam has a lot of different clothing styles. The only thing that connects them is their love of bright, contrasting colours and patterns.

Men’s Traditional Vietnamese Clothing

The traditional Vietnamese clothing for men is known as the Ao Dai. It is a long silk tunic with a conventional-looking form-fitting collar and is buttoned up on the left side. The tunic for men usually falls to the knees and is usually paired with loose pants.In the past, the colour of the Ao Dai in Vietnam indicated a man’s position in society. Gold was the colour that represented royalty in ancient Vietnam. The Kings’ Ao Dai was embroidered with dragons to represent their strength and might. High officials wore purple Ao Dais and the common people wore different shades of blue.Nowadays, the Ao Dai is not worn every day. However, the Ao Dai is a symbol of purity and grace, and the Vietnamese wear it in large numbers on traditional occasions such as weddings and Tet (New Year).

Women’s Traditional Vietnamese Clothing

The Ao Dai, the traditional clothing of Vietnam, also has a feminine version. The female Ao Dai is very similar to her male counterpart, but has one striking difference: this silk tunic falls to the ankles. The Ao Dai has two main varieties: a four-piece variant, which consists of flaps in the front that women button up; and a five-part variant, which consists of an extra flap on the right side to secure the Ao Dai. The northern part of Vietnam wears the Ao Dai in a slightly different way than the southern part. In the north, the four-piece Ao Dai is worn with a long skirt and a hat made of leaves, called the Non-Quai Thao, or sometimes just a scarf over the head. In the southern part, the Ao Dai is worn over loose-fitting trousers. These pants are printed in white, black, or colorfully. From the waist down, the dress splits into front and back panels.The women also wear traditional Vietnamese conical hats called “Non La.” These hats are made from the leaves of palm trees and are often worn as a fashion statement or to write poetry on. The slanted hats protect you from both the sun and the rain. The origin of the Non La can be traced back to Hue, and it is recommended that tourists buy these hats from the Hue Citadel. The women in the Mekong Delta wear a slightly different type of traditional clothing—the Ao Ba Ba. The Ao Ba Ba is a collarless shirt with a back made of a straight piece of fabric. The front body consists of two parts, and in the middle, two bands run from top to bottom. This elaborate shirt is often worn with long white or black trousers.In addition to Vietnam’s most well-known traditional clothes, the local ethnic groups have their own styles and clothes.

Traditional Thai Clothing in Vietnam

Thai ethnic dress in Vietnam is elegant and understated. It consists of a plain blouse and a long skirt, which are embroidered with motifs of the sun, flowers, and dragons. The costume is accompanied by belts, Pieu scarves, and some silver jewelry.

Traditional clothing of the Hmong in Vietnam

The Hmong people in Vietnam prefer to dress in a more sophisticated, yet vibrant and colourful way, with a bohemian flair. Their clothing is made of linen and consists of many colours and embroidered motifs. The outfit consists of a black shirt, a colourful skirt, leggings, and a hat. The women often attach silver beads and jewellery to their dresses to add a sense of individuality and spirituality.

Traditional clothing of the Cham in Vietnam

Cham women’s traditional dress may not be as colourful or bright as the rest, but it has a certain charm to it. The costume consists of a close-fitting tunic shirt, a skirt in the colour of the shirt, and a beautiful headscarf. The waistband that is tied across the chest and around the waist is the best part of the costume. It has golden iridescent hues and a lot of attention to detail.In the mountain areas, the most commonly worn suits are trousers or skirts with indigo vests with wild flower or animal motifs. These pants and skirts are designed to be easy to navigate on the mountain slopes and to make farming easier. Most traditional Vietnamese clothes are made by hand and sold to foreigners who are curious.Vietnamese traditional dresses have undergone many changes due to western influences. However, it has retained much of its traditional charm and flair. The Vietnamese people are still proud of their unique sense of dress and their culture.