Vietnamese Traditional Costumes & Dresses | Origin & Uniqueness

Vietnam is a fascinating country, full of surprises and one of the most attractive destinations in Asia. Plan your trip with the list of all the best places in Vietnam with Inbound Vietnam Travel.

Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with 54 distinct ethnic groups and each group has its own unique cultural heritage and style of costumes and traditional costumes. Common features often include gorgeous, seemingly opposing colours in each outfit: black and red, blue and red, or blue and white.

Vietnamese Traditional Costume for Female

The Ao Dai (Long silk tunic) has been the traditional dress for Vietnamese women a long time ago. After a period of custom practice, there are many different kinds of Ao Dai: the four-part flowing tunic had two equal front flaps that women tied together, while the five-part flowing tunic had an additional small flap that buttoned up onto the right side of the dress.

Vietnamese Traditional Clothes in North Vietnam

Each different region across Vietnam has its own style of graceful ao dai. For example, in the North, women often wear a four-body dress (called a four-body dress in Vietnam) with a long skirt. Ao Tu Than is also wearing a large leaf hat called Non Quai Thao. Today, visitors only see Vietnamese women in Ao Dai along with Non Quai Thao in traditional music performances such as Cheo, Tuong. Instead of Non Quai Thao, sometimes women just need to wear a scarf. In the past, this combination was reserved for women working in agriculture.

Vietnam Traditional Dress in Central

In the Central Region and in the South of Vietnam, Ao Dai is worn much like today. It is a long flowing tunic that consists of only two parts and it is worn over a loose-fitting pair of trousers. These pants are often in white, black, or colourfully dyed. The dress splits into a front and back panel from the waist down. The Ao Dai is said to “cover everything but hide nothing” since it promotes all the beautiful curves of a Vietnamese woman. You can see in your Vietnam school tour the student girls wearing Ao Dai as their uniform.

The cone-shaped hat is called “Non La”, which is used indeed like a hat to protect one from the heat of the sun, from the rain, or in everyday life situations. Also, conical palm hats are used as decorative fashion items or a souvenir in Vietnam. They usually are known as a Non Bai Tho as people traditionally write poetry on it. Tourists can easily find conical palm hats everywhere in Vietnam but it is highly recommended for Hue Citadel – where the first Non Bai Tho was created and developed.

Vietnamese Traditional Women’s Clothing in Mekong Delta

"Bà Ba" shirt is a typical costume that has accompanied the women of the Mekong Delta for a long time. This shirt makes people think of the genuine, gentle and gentle beauty of a rural woman. Ba Ba shirt is a collarless shirt, the back is sewn with a piece of cloth, the front body consists of two pieces, in the middle, there are two straps running from the top down. Ba Ba shirt hugs the body and is often combined with black or white trousers to highlight the beautiful curves of Vietnamese women.

Vietnamese Traditional Costumes for Male

If you have seen the delicate costumes - Ao Dai of Vietnamese women, you will easily recognize the similarities in the traditional costumes of men. Both outfits are tailored from the same fabric, worn with the usual tight-fitting collars and buttons from the left to the waist, and no pleats in the front. There is a slight difference that men's skirts are only knee length (while women's skirts are ankle length).

In the past especially in the feudal period, there are many variations for men due to their level in society. Gold is the national colour and the dragon embroidery on the dress is a fabulous mythical animal, which represented the King. Purple is the colour reserved for high-ranking court mandarins while blue is for those at the lower rank. Nowadays, Western attire is the norm in Vietnam, but the traditional Ao Dai is still a symbol showing the beauty of Vietnamese culture and remains the style of choice for formal occasions such as weddings or the New Year celebrations. Therefore, you still have a chance to see Vietnamese men wear Ao Dai on the Tet holiday street in your Vietnam vacation.

Vietnamese Traditional Costumes of Ethnic Minorities

In general, Vietnamese clothing is very diverse. Every ethnic group has its own unique dressing and the festival is the best occasion for them to wear all their favourite clothes. Over thousands of years, the traditional dress of all ethnic groups in Vietnam has changed a lot, but each of them has separately maintained its own characteristics.

Vietnamese Traditional Costumes of Ethnic Minorities

The costumes of Thai ethnic women are quite elegant, highlighting the gentle beauty of the girl. The traditional costume of the Thai ethnic group consists of a plain blouse and a long skirt embroidered with elaborate brocade motifs. Favourite motifs are the sun, flowers and dragons. The outfit comes with a belt and the Pieu scarf along with some silver jewellery that makes the outfit more beautiful.

Traditional Clothes of H’mong Ethnic Group

The H’Mong ethnic group has traditional costumes that are very sophisticated and colourful, usually made of linen with many colours highlighted with a variety of designs. A complete outfit consists of a black shirt, a colourful skirt, leggings, and headgear. The H’mong female dress is very beautiful and prominent, they often attach silver coins and beads on the dress to enhance the aesthetics as well as express the traditional spiritual will.

Traditional Dress of Cham Ethnic Group

Not as colourful as the costumes of Vietnamese women, but the traditional costumes of Cham women have an unusual attraction. Cham women consider the traditional ao dai to be the most sacred and beautiful dress. A complete outfit includes a tight tunic, a skirt of the same colour as the top, and a gorgeous headscarf. The highlight of the outfit is the belt tied across the chest and around the waist, which is prominently designed with golden colours and meticulous details. The woman wears this traditional costume with a graceful and seductive gait.

In mountainous areas, other ethnics often wear trousers or skirts and indigo vests with design motifs imitating wildflowers or beasts. In some ethnic minorities’ tradition, the young women have made skirts and vests with beautiful and colourful decoration in a style convenient for farms working in terraced fields or to travel on hilly slopes and mountain gorges. Almost all dresses of Vietnamese ethnic minorities are handmade and carefully embroidered by the females of the village. They sometimes sell them on the night markets for money or for tourists who want a traditional costume as gifts for their family and friends.

Above all, the traditional costumes of Vietnamese people are often very simple and modest. Over time, the costumes of Vietnamese ethnic groups were influenced by foreign costumes, some traditional costumes were lost, replaced by more modern and appropriate interpretations. However, the graceful beauty exuding from the unique way of dressing of the Vietnamese people is still an attraction for tourists when arriving in this beautiful S-shaped country.

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