A page about the traditional vietnamese dress
On this page I will tell you a bit more about
one of my favorit fashion things, the Ao-Dai.
What is an Aó-Daì?
The Ao-Dai is the traditional dress of the
vietnames people. It is in general the same for both genders but in modern
days more often worn by woman. Sometimes, designs are painted or embroidered
in front and back of the dress.
AO DAI leterally mean "long dress", the
national dress of Vietnam. It is a contoured, full-length dress worn over
black or white loose-fitting trousers. The dress splits into a front and
back panel from the waist down. There are many stylish variations in color
and collar design. Originally, the ao dai was loosely tailored with four
panels, two of which were tied in back. In 1932, a nationalistic literacy
group called the Tu Luc Van Doan designed what is essentially now the ao
dai. A similar costume is worn the men and is also called an ao dai. However,
the mans'dress front and back panel isa bit shorter in length and more
loose-fitting. The color of the brocade and the embroidered dragon were
worn only by the Emperor. Purple was the color reserved for high ranking
mandarins while the blue was worn by those mandarins of lower rank. The
dresses for mourning have frayed fringes a line up the back and may be
either white or black, although white is the standard color for mourning.
Pronounced 'ao yai' in the south, but
'ao zai' in the north, the color is indicative of the wearer's age and
status. Young girls wear pure white, fully lined outfits symbolizing their
purity. As they grow older but are still unmarried they move into soft
pastel shades. Only married women wear gowns in strong, rich colors, usually
over white or black pants. The ao dai has always been more prevalent in
the south than the north, but austerity drives after 1975 meant it was
rarely anywhere seen for a number of years as it was considered an excess
not appropriate for hard work. The nineties have seen a resurgence in the
ao dai's popularity. "It has become standard attire for many office workers
and hotel staff as well as now being the preferred dress for more formal
occasions," says Huong, a secretary for a foreign company. "I feel proud
of my heritage when I wear it."
General colors used:
In General lighter or more pastel colors
are worn by younger people the darker and brighter collors are worn by
the older people.
Young girls wear pure white, fully lined
outfits symbolizing their purity. As they grow older but are still unmarried
they move into soft pastel shades. Only married wear gowns in strong, rich
colors. The Ao-Dai is usually worn over white or black long and wide swinging
white = students uniform
violett = if the wearer is in love
red = marrige gown
darkblue = mostly worn by man
A short history of the Aó-Daì:
The historical periode:
The exact beginning of the developmant
of the Ao-Dai is not very clear. Possible it develoupd from a gown worn
in the chinese Yeun dynasty that resamles some basic similarity to the
Ao-Dai. Also it has some similarity to the so coled Cheogsam an the Quipu.
The following picturs show some relations
of historical costumes from south china witch are posible prdecessors of
Early versions of the Ao-Dai date back
to 1744 when Lord Vu Vuong of the Nguyen Dynasty decreed both men and women
should wear an ensemble of trousers and a gown that buttoned down the front.
It was not until 1930 that the ao dai as we know it really appeared.
France colony periode:
This time period had a great influence
in the look of the Ao-Dai. The importing of the european underwear to be
exactly the bra forced the develoupmant of the Ao-Dai to a more clother
body showing form. Before it was a bit more lose cut.
Vietnamese fashion designer and writer
Cat Tuong, or as the French knew him, Monsieur Le Mur, lengthened the top
so it reached the floor, fitted the bodice to the curves of the body and
moved the buttons from the more front position to closer along the
shoulder and side seam. But it took another twenty years before the
next major design change was incorporated and the modern ao dai emerged.
During the 1950s two tailors in Saigon, Tran Kim of Thiet Lap Tailors and
Dung of Dung Tailors, started producing the gowns with raglan sleeves.
This creates a diagonal seam running from the collar to the underarm and
today, this style is still preferred.
In our modern time many things influenced
the look of the Ao-Dai in many ways. The look of the shlevs fary from nothing
to long. The use of modern or exotic fabrics.
Several years ago Max, the lead collections
designer at Ralph Lauren did an "Indochine" group. Several of his Southeast
Asian inspired dresses wer shown at the Met's "Orientalism" Show. The Vietnamese
inspired gown was one of the most memorable in the exhibit.
Its popularity may be its undoing as the
garment is now being mass produced to make it more available and cheaper.
The gown length appears to be gradually shortening and today is usually
just below the knee. Variations in the neck, between boat and mandarin
style, are common and even adventurous alterations such as a low scooped
neckline, puffed sleeves or off the shoulder designs are appearing as ladies
experiment with fashion. Colors are no longer as rigidly controlled as
it was in the past. Men wore it less, generally mostly on ceremonial occasions
such as at weddings or funerals.
How to cut and sew an Aó-Daì:
To make your own Ao-Dai the right way, I will
put small pics i have collected later on this page. On it you can see how
to cut a sewing-pattern.
Ao-Dai is custom made only. That's why
it looks so nice: it fits the person wearing it exactly. If you can somehow
get measurements of you, you can send these with someone to order a custom
Aó-Daì when going to Vietnam. It takes about 1 week to make
and costs about 50$ . You should supply the silk fabric also. but also
new kinds fabrics has some dazzling results.
Most visitors to Vietnam agree that the
tailors already have the perfect cut. It is hard to think of a more elegant,
demure and yet sexy outfit, that suits Vietnamese people of all ages, than
the Ao Dai.
The minimum measurements needed
neck circumference ( vòng cô?
shoulder width ( ngang vai )
arm hole size ( vóng cành tay
length of arm ( daì cành tay)
wrist circumference ( vòng cô?
chest circumference ( vòng ngu+.c )
length from low of neck to largest part of
chest ( daì tù+ cô? ddê'n ngu+.c )
length from back of neck to waist ( daì
waist circumference ( vòng eo)
hip circ. ( vòng mông)
length from waist to desired hem line ( daì
tà aó )
( keep the tape loose) are like following:
All measurements must be in centimeters
( phân tây), not inches.
Last Edited:14.08.1998 Copyright: _RosE_ from the Black Tower of Time