8 Jul 2016   |   Lists

5 Interesting Facts about The Vietnamese Ao Dai

The Vietnamese ao dai is the country’s national costume. Although ao dai literally translates as ‘long shirt’, it is actually a long-sleeve, long-flap, tunic top worn over blousy high-waisted pants. It is to Vietnam what the kimono is to Japan and the hanbok to Korea.

1.    “It covers everything but hides nothing.”
That says it all. Indeed, the ao dai is one of the sexiest dresses in the world, especially when cut thin and soft from silk or satin so that it looks like it’s flowing. The top is tight-fitting, which showcases the curve of the wearer. The high cut at the waist revealing a little bit of the women’s hip adds to the charm of ao dai as well.  

2.    School & Work
Schoolgirls wear the white ao dai as uniforms. Donning this outfit is a rite of passage for high schoolers, indicating a bold step into maturity. The same outfit is worn by female teachers, airline attendants, hotel staff, waitresses, and others at work.

3.    Men Wear Ao Dai, Too!
In the old days, men and women wore the ao dai. Men often topped the dress with a turban, and looked rather dapper and very Vietnamese. Their ao dai was looser and plainer, and usually reserved for religious occasions, weddings and funerals. Today, some men still wear the ao dai.

 4.    Accessories
One Vietnamese archetype pictures a woman in an ao dai and non la (conical hat made of palm leaves). Women wear the non la day to day, and crown themselves with a khan dong (circular head gear covered in silk or satin) on their wedding day. 

5.    Fashion Item

The ao dai evolved throughout the 20th Century and enjoyed a major redesign in 1950. Today, the garb flows across the runways at international fashion stages an emblem of endless but trendy charm. The ao dai is now back on the streets of Saigon as the suit du jour.