Áo Dài, the Vietnamese traditional dress
Ao Dai is a traditional dress in Vietnam. It's also a symbol of Vietnam. Whenever you hear about Vietnam, definitely you will hear about Ao Dai (Áo Dài in vietnamese). Ao dai nowadays is very popular with different designs and colors. Ao dai is written like this 襖長 in chữ Nôm - the old kind of writing of Vietnam.

History of Ao Dai (Áo Dài)

In fact, nobody knows the original history of Ao Dai (Áo Dài). There was no evidence which says about where and when the Ao Dai appeared. At the beginning, we don't know what was the real design of Ao Dai. Researchers show that the Ao Dai (Áo Dài) stared to be wore thousand years ago.

The King Nguyễn Phúc Khoát was considered as a person who discovered and made the áo dài have its form. Until 16th century, Vietnam was still affected by Chinese culture including clothes. To keep Vietnamese's culture, Nguyễn Phúc Khoát said in one of his "law" about the design of Vietnamese's clothes which was similar to Ao Dai nowadays. Because of that reason, Nguyễn Phúc Khoái could be the one who started the history of Ao Dai (Áo Dài).

Vietnamese men and women wore Ao Dai until 1947 when Vietnam got the independence and the government had the campaign: diệt giặc đói, giặc dốt (fight against poverty and illiteracy). On Match 20, 1947, Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh) wrote "Đời Sống Mới" (New Life) and told people should stop wearing Ao Dai because it took more material than normal clothes and it was not convenient for people to move, or to work. If we wore normal clothes, we had saved 200 million đồng/ year. Most people joined this campaign and Ao Dai wasn't wore in the North for a long time.

Le Mur
Le Mur was the name of Ao Dai (Áo Dài), translation from Vietnamese into French. Le Mur was a new style of Ao Dai, which was created by an artist named Cát Tường in 1930. There were many changes in this style and to be "fashionable" Le Mur Ao Dai had to be wore with white pants, high heels, umbrella and purse. People didn't accept this change.

Up to 1934, Lê Phổ, another artist made the new design for Ao Dai (Áo Dài) from Le Mur and traditional Ao Dai (which had 4 or 5 pieces). From here, Ao Dai was with 2 pieces, tightened the body and closed at the neck. This was the perfect design that all the women at that time liked it and it became the only basic design for Ao Dai.

Miniraglan was the kind of Ao Dai (Áo Dài) for female students. With this design, the length of Ao Dai was just at the knees and the pants were loser. The students would feel more comfortable with this design and the Ao Dai also made the students become more lovely.

Girl students with Aodai, the Vietnamese dress

At the end of the year 1958, Mrs. Trần Lệ Xuân created another design for the áo dài which the neck was around neck (cổ thuyền). People usually called it "áo dài Trần Lệ Xuân or áo dài Mrs. Nhu". Some critics said this Ao Dai (Áo Dài) was not suitable for tradition and custom in Vietnam. However, it was popular and is still in use until now. Mrs. Trần Lệ Xuân died at 2AM, April 24, 2011 in Rome, Italy when she was 87 years old.

Ao Dai (Áo Dài) A symbol of Vietnam:
Differently from kimono or hanbok, Ao Dai (Áo Dài) is wore in many occasions, not only traditional cases. We use it at work or at school as uniform. We wear it to go out or to be in fashion shows. Especially in wedding, we have a kind of hat to go with it.

Weddding yellow Ao with hat. Yellow Vietnam dress

Ao Dai (Áo Dài) is a unique design which both respectful and charming. It reflects the body of the person who wears it. The cut of 2 pieces is at the waist, which makes the women easy to move. The material is silk, so the body is inside the soft material which makes women become more feminine.

As mentioned before, Ao Dai (Áo Dài) reflects the body of the one who wears it, so each Ao Dai is just suitable for only one person. We can't make one Ao Dai for many people. It can be, but it will not be beautiful. When making an Ao Dai (Áo Dài), the tailor will take the measurement carefully. One wrong measurement will destroy the beauty of Ao Dai.

Ao Dai nowadays

With the develop of the country and the develop of the fashion, Ao Dai (Áo Dài) is also developed. Ao Dai is more fashionable and more popular.

At the same time, tourists who want to make Ao Dai (Áo Dài) when they are in Vietnam, they can come to many shops in Ho Chi Minh city, Hue (Huế), Hoi An (Hội An) and Hanoi (Hà Nội). Those shops can make Ao Dai very quickly, only 1 day.


Student's Ao Dai