Vietnam’s national dress, the áo dài, is one of the country’s most striking symbols of beauty. Over hundreds of years, the áo dài has evolved along with Vietnam, from royal to practical, humble to high fashion and back again. The Vietnamese áo dài is appreciated by young and old, and its elegant lines flatter both men and women. If you want to learn more about Ao Dai’s storey and tips for making your own, read on.
The Story of Ao Dai
The storey of the áo dài begins in 1744, when Vietnam was divided into two regions: the Inland (àng Trong) and the Foreign (àng Ngoài). To distinguish his people, Lord Nguyn Phc Khoát of the Inner Land asked his subjects to wear clothes. dress with buttons down the front and pants. This five-piece dress (áo ng thân) was the inspiration for the modern áo dài. Royals and elites made their dresses from the finest silks, with intricate details and vibrant colours to represent their rankings in court.
In the 1930s, the dress was simplified into two parts by the Vietnamese artist Le Mur Nguyn Cát Tng. The front flap was extended to reach the ankle and the shape became more fitted. As with many “westernized” ideas, the style was initially met with only reluctance. However, after Le Mur created an áo dài collection for Queen Nam Phng, wife of Vietnam’s last Emperor Bo i, urban women began to embrace and popularise the more modern style.
After the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1947, H Ch Minh wrote an essay in 1947, noting that the áo dài was not suitable for the fields or the factory, and asked the Vietnamese to modify their clothing to work more efficiently. As a result, the áo dài became a dress kept for professional performances and special occasions. Today, across the country, female high school students are required to wear the dress at least one day a week. Many Vietnamese songs, poems, and paintings have been inspired by the girls in white áo dài riding their bicycles to school. The áo dài is also worn by ladies of all ages when it’s time to make a good impression.
The Modern Styles of Ao Dai
When it comes to áo dài, modern designers aren’t afraid to take risks.Some of these new versions of the traditional dress have made it more practical, meaning they can be worn in less formal settings. On hot summer days, you’ll see a variety of more casual collars worn on motorcycles and bicycles, including crew-neck and boat-neck styles.
When should you include dai?
Vietnamese women like to wear áo dài for photo shoots in beautiful settings. Golden autumn days in Hanoi call for photo sessions around Hoàn Kim Lake. During Tt (Lunar New Year), you can see the dress in all its glory as women wear it to visit friends and family, and to pay tribute to temples and shrines. A wedding is the perfect time to wear your best áo dai. In Vietnam, the bridal couple and their entourage will wear elaborate áo dài during the traditional ceremony, after which guests will show up for the reception in simpler yet equally colourful designs.
Ao Dai colors.
When choosing an áo dài, each colour has a meaning. In imperial times, gold was a royal colour and was reserved for kings and queens. For good luck and prosperity, red áo dài are worn during Tt. If you’re a guest, it’s a good idea to dress in a different color.can be seen in the white dresses of high school students, black symbolises purity and innocence, as can be seen in the black dresses usually worn at funerals. Vietnamese women also choose áo dài colours based on their element (metal, wood, water, fire, or earth) from their year of birth.
Make your own oa dai.
Anyone can wear áo dài as a way of showing respect. Fancy dinners, important meetings, and parties are all suitable occasions. Just make sure you always wear your áo dài over trousers or slacks. If you’re looking for ready-to-wear áo dài, you’ll be spoiled for choice in the shops in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Hi An Old Town. Hi An’s tailors can also make you a brand new dress in just a few days. Feel free to choose your own style and colours to give it a personal touch. To make a personalised áo dài, visit the silk village of Vn Phc, 20 minutes from Hanoi. Here you can buy high-quality silk directly from the source, learn about silk making, have your áo dài custom made, and take beautiful photos of the flowing silk ribbons.