History of Ao Dai

The History of the Ao Dai Dress

Though the ao dai is seen as a symbol of traditional Vietnamese identity and femininity, its current form only came about after substantial foreign influence, making it the ao dai we know today.

The word “ao dai” was originally used in the 18th century, during the Nguyen Dynasty, when Chinese-style clothing was made compulsory.

Ao dai was the name of a specific outfit used at the court of the Nguyen Lords in Hue to distinguish them from other courtiers.

The outfit evolved into the áongthân, an aristocratic five-panel dress worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the 20th century, among other things, dai underwent many changes.

In the 1920s and 1930s, during French colonialism, the outfit was redesigned as a modern dress by a French-trained Vietnamese artist named Cat Tuong, or Le Mur. He combined the western style of clothing with the traditional ao dai. During this time, the ao dai was promoted as the national costume for modern times.

In the 1950s, Saigon designers tightened the fit to make it more attractive. Madame Nhu, the sister-in-law of President Ngo Dinh Diem, made the new form-fitting version of the ao dai with a boat neck popular. At the time, it was seen as sexy because of its shape.


Ao Dai dressed in modern times.

Ao dai comes in many variations of color, pattern, length, and collar in modern times.

Besides being everyday wear for women, it is worn for special occasions like weddings, Tt parties, and other formal occasions. Specific colours of dai are worn for worship and ritual ceremonies. Blue, purple, and brown are the main choices.

Ao dai is also often worn as a uniform for women, whether they are officials, tour guides, hotel staff or high school girls.

The Social Influence of Ao Dai

  1. Inspiring architectural design: the exterior of the 65-storey Lotte Center in Hanoi is inspired by Dai, among other things.
  2. A Symbol of Home: The Vietnamese in California hold the Ao Dai festival every year. It is a symbol of national pride. During the festival, many will dress in ao dai to show their respect and desire for Vietnam.

The difference between Vietnamese Ao Dai and Chinese Cheongsam

Modern ao dai resembles the Chinese Cheongsam or Qipao in shape. Both are the national dress and are especially popular with women. Do you want to know how to distinguish the two from each other?

  1. An ao dai is divided into two flowing splits from the waist down and is worn with pants underneath.A qipao also has a slit in the skirt, but it is normally in a lower position. Pants are not worn under a qipao.
  2. An ao dai is tight around the torso but loose at the waist. A qipao is tight all over to show the curves of the hips and legs. 3.

An ao dai is more suitable for walking because of the inclusion of pants under the dress and is often worn as everyday clothing. Qipaos are mainly worn for parties or other formal occasions because they are not practical for daily work.

4.Ao dai is usually made with long sleeves and falls to the ankles. Most qipao are made with short sleeves and different lengths.

  1. There are no buttons included in the design of an ao dai. On a qipao, you always see a knot knot at the neck.