Culture & Lifestyle > Clothing

Ao Dai

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The beauty of women dressed in ao dai always leaves a deep impression on foreign visitors to Vietnam. Girl students dressed in white long robes take to streets on the way to schools or back home, or gracefully sail on their bikes along streets. Female secretaries in delicate pastels greet you at an office door and older ladies in deep shades of purple, green or blue cut a striking pose at a restaurant dinner. The ao dai appears to flatter every figure.

Its body-hugging top flows over wide trousers that brush the floor. Splits in the gown extend well above waist height and make it comfortable and easy to move in. Although virtually the whole body is swathed in soft flowing fabric, these splits give the odd glimpse of a bare midriff, making the outfit very sensual. 

Ao dai is made individually to fit each customer's shape to create the most graceful possible look. The pants should reach the soles of the feet and flow along the floor. 

 

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Comfortability is always taken into account for fashions and beauty. Tailoring must ensure the wearer's freedom of movements. Despite it is a long robe, ao dai must be cool to wear. Synthetic or silk fabrics are preferred as they do not crush and are quick drying, making the ao dai a practical uniform for daily wear. 

The color is indicative of the wearer's age and status. Young girls wear pure white, fully-lined outfits symbolizing their purity. Older but unmarried girls move into soft pastel shades. Only married women wear ao dai in strong, rich colors, usually over white or black pants. However, ao dai is rarely seen in places where manual work is practiced. The nineties saw a real resurgence of ao dai. It has become standard and common attire for girl students as well as female staff at offices and hotels. Traditionally, ao dai has become the most preferred dress on formal occasions.

Non la - Conical hat

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Take a peasant's common conical hat, add a touch of this and a little of that, and you will have the idea, but not quite an authentic Non Bai Tho or "Poetical Leaf" from Central Vietnam. Just a few simple arrangements added to the conical form are enough to give the Vietnamese leaf-covered hat unique features found nowhere else among Asia’s various types of conical hats.
The legend of the conical hat is related to maternal love and the history of rice growing in Vietnam.
Although the conical hat is no longer the cities women's everyday costume, it remains the ubiquitous headwear in the countryside. And a young girl with her conical hat, quite charming in her four-flapped long dress, is always a popular image of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.

Ao Yem

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Images of graceful girls in national charming long dress have been a symbol of Vietnam. However, looking back the historic development of national dress, Vietnam not only has ao dai but also ao yem – the indispensable dress of ancient girls.
In the old days, ao yem was called yem. It is an age-old dress which is maintained until today. Ao yem was used by all levels of society from working class to upper class. It also was used widely in traditional festivals therefore it was the national traditional clothes of ancient ladies.
Entering 20 century, ao yem was used widespread with many of rich designs and models. Ao yem which has brown color and was weaved by rude cloth was for labor. Urban women favored white, pink or red ones, while women in the countryside wore ao yem in brown or beige, colors suited to their rustic environment. On special occasions, like the Lunar New Year or festivals, rural women would also wear brightly colored ao yem.
Today, the ao yem is appreciated for its cultural and artistic values. And on festive occasions, women throughout Vietnam are embracing the ao yem and other traditional clothes with renewed enthusiasm.