The History of Vietnamese 'Ao dai'

Ao Dai has long been a traditional costume and a typical cultural feature of the Vietnamese nation. Through each period of development of history, Ao Dai is constantly changing but still respecting the conventional gentle beauty of Vietnamese women. It has become the hallmark of the Vietnamese fashion industry and political and cultural identity since it began to emerge under the Nguyen Dynasty.

What is ao dai ?

The ao dai is the national costume of Vietnam for women. Vietnamese wear ao dai for formal occasions, at school or for work. The male counterpart to the ao dai is called an ao gam. The ao dai is found in every part of Vietnam, and in overseas Vietnamese communities. The prefix áo classifies the item as clothing. Dài means "long." Once condemned as decadent by the country's rulers, the dress became popular again in the 1990s.

A modern ao dai has two parts, a high collared long dress, and pants that stop at the ankles. Costume and evening-gown áo dài may have colorful designs with flowers, birds, and pictures.

Parts of dress

Tà sau: back flap

  • Nút bấm thân áo: hooks used as fasteners and holes
  • Ống tay: sleeve
  • Đường bên: inside seam
  • Nút móc kết thúc: main hook and hole

Tà trước: front flap

  • Khuy cổ: collar button
  • Cổ áo: collar
  • Đường may: seam
  • Kích (eo): waist
  1. Ao Giao Linh (Áo Giao Lĩnh)

Ao Giao Linh (Áo Giao Lĩnh)

No researchers have been able to accurately determine the history of Ao Dai and the time of its appearance. According to the perception of the Chinese, the Ao Dai comes from the cheongsam. Still, the cheongsam appeared in 1920, and the Ao Dai appeared thousands of years ago. 

The appearance of the Ao Dai originates from the Ao Dai (in 1744) - the most primitive style of the Vietnamese Ao Dai. The shirt is also known as the front shirt, is sewn wide, slits on both sides, wide wrists, long body dot the heel. The shirt's body is sewn with 4 fabrics combined with a colored belt and a black skirt. This is a cross-collar shirt similar to a four-piece shirt.

At this time, King Nguyen Phuc Khoat ascended the throne and ruled the southern land. The North is led by Lord Trinh in Hanoi. The people here wear the uniform of the lord, and the costume has similarities with the Han people. To distinguish between the South and the North, King Nguyen Phuc Khoat asked all his assistants to wear long pants under a silk shirt. This dress is a combination of Han and Champa costumes. Maybe this is the picture of the first ao dai.

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Comment (5)
  1. Quang Vinh - 1 August 2021 08:09
    Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.
  2. Ta Tony - 2 August 2021 17:44
    I flew Vietnam Airlines a few years ago and the stewardesses were all wearing a modernised version of the Ao Dai.
    They looked so beautiful that I kept ordering drinks so that they would walk by, and I could check them out! I was quite drunk when I eventually landed in Ho Chi Minh! Unfortunately it was just a transit stop for me, but I felt like I got a feel for the essence of Vietnam, just by seeing the Ao Dai!
    1. Chu Hai Yen - 2 August 2021 17:53
      Hi Tony , your story is really interesting, cannot imagine how drunken you were if your flight was to the other faraway land:-) The Ao Dai itself always boasts well the woman’s beauty, they even look more beautiful on the stewardesses as many of them are models and Miss Vietnam:-) Thank you for your story, i do like it:-) Cheers!
  3. Chu Hai Yen - 2 August 2021 17:51
    What an interesting post! I had no idea that Vietnam had an iconic dress, which is very beautiful. I found very interesting the history of dress and I loved that you put different pictures of the dress.
  4. Hiếu Bin - 4 August 2021 05:35
    a very interesting article. Thanks author!
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