Vietnamese Traditional Clothes

Vietnamese clothing culture is very diversified. 54 Vietnamese ethnics have many styles of clothing but each one has its own feature.

Ao Ba Ba (Ba Ba Shirt)


The Ao Ba Ba has a pair of silk pants and a long sleeved, buttoned – down shirt. The shirt will be somewhat long and split at the sides of the waist, forming two flaps. Especially, in the front of the shirt, there are typically two pockets.

Most of the population wear the Ao Ba  Ba, the garment’s simplicity and versatility has contributed to its popularity.  Population wears it while laboring or lounging.

Modern versions allow countless different designs, colors, and embroidery, which have allowed the costume’s transition into modern Vietnamese fashion as well

It made the costume’s natural which presented in almost every aspect of Vietnamese life.

Ao Yem

Ao yem is a simple garment with many variations forms. Its basic form is a simple with a diamond or square-cut piece of cloth draped over a woman’s chest with strings to tie at the neck and back.

Ao Yem is made from the various materials. It has a lot of colors based on person’s rank and the occasion. In daily days, the women usually wore black or white Ao Yem but in the special occasions, brighter colors as red and pink could be chose. Indeed, the charming of the women in their “Yem Dao” has created the inspiration for many Vietnamese poets.

The bottom of most Ao Yem are v-shaped, there are different styles for the top of the garment, “Yếm cổ xây”, or the deep v-shaped neck style, called “Yếm cổ sẻ” is the most popular. “Yếm đeo bùa” is another type of Yem has a little pocket within, where women often use to store a little musk or perfume.

Its origin is not sure, although many people said that it originated from the China, since in ancient China had a similar garment. The Ao Yem has existed since at least 12th century it is an essential part of the áo tứ thân costume worn by northern Vietnamese women. Different from other Vietnamese costumes in feudalistic Vietnam, áo yếm were worn as an undergarment by Vietnamese women in daily life, from peasant women toiling in the fields to imperial consorts.

By the 20th century, when the westernization came into Vietnam, more and more women abandoned the Yếm for the western bra in urban areas, although the Yếm is still worn in large rural areas.

Ao Tu Than


The Ao Tu Than can be regarded as one of the oldest enduring Vietnamese cultural relics. Vietnamese women wore it from early 12th century to the early 20th century. From the introduction of the Chinese Hanfu, clothing it was developed.

In the past, “Ao tu than”, which is considered as “four-flapped dress”, is a traditional dress usually worn by Northern people. It has some layers of gowns, the outer usually has a brown color and its lower part is divided equally into 4 flaps. The two front flaps are often tied together and with two sashes, wrapped around like a belt.

Ao tu than gradually became associated with the northern women when Vietnam expanded southward and different cultures began to emerge between the regions.

Ao Tu Than was often made by with plainer fabric in darker colors, it was the dress of the commoner women. While most the Ao Tu Than are extremely colorful, ancient Vietnamese preferred more muted colors.

It has many various forms, the basic Ao Tu Than includes:

The length of the Ao tu th Ao Tu Than reaches to the floor. It is open in the front, as a jacket. The tunic splits into two flaps at the waist: a full flap in the back (made up of two flaps sewn together) and the two flaps in the front are can be tied together or left dangling

Under the tunic is a long skirt.

Women often wear Áo yếm, an ancient bodice as an undergarment. It has various forms and colors, worn under the skirt and outer tunic

Vietnamese women often tied a silk sash at the waist as a belt

The dress tends to be extremely colorful, using different colors throughout the dress, from the tunic to the bodice and the skirt.

Ao Dai


In Viet Nam, the ao dai is the traditional dress for women.   It was developed from Chinese court clothing in the 1930s; in 1954 it went out of fashion in the north and in the south in 1975. Nowadays, however, Ao Dai has become popularity in the South. In many schoolgirls it is the uniform. Besides, the ao dai is worn by shop assistants women or who have a higher social status.

The ao dai is regarded as an elegant, yet demure, garment. The long wide – legged trousers are worn under a high necked, long-sleeved, fitted tunic with slits along each side. Traditional Ao Dai has the outfit’s pants reach to the soles of the feet. Days by days, the dress tunic has changed. It  has grown shorter and shorter until now it’s length  is just under the knees. The ao dai can also be identified by its mandarin-style or boat-neck collar. In the past, girls wear only pastel colored or white garments while the either dark or bright tunics will be worn in their marriage.

Nowadays, in marriage day, the bride usually wears “Ao Dai” in red or pink with the dragon and phoenix and Chinese prints which designed in the “Ao Dai”.

Historically, Vietnamese men dressed in mandarin style suits. With a tunic shorter and fuller than the ao dai, the man’s class and social rank determined the suit’s color a purple, namely suit is a high rank while blue denoted a low rank. Today the mandarin suit is only worn in the traditional dance of music performances.

Where to buy an Ao Dai?


You should find a Vietnamese seamstress. In Vietnam Towns (Little Saigon) there are a lot of the lager Vietnamese businesses especially grocery stores and video stores. There are many the name of a good seamstress at which you will be given the best advices to buy the best source for Vietnam silk fabric.

In general, Vietnamese clothing is very various; it is one of the outstanding features of Vietnamese culture. But the traditional Vietnamese styles are now affected by Western styles.  They are worn mostly in the special occasions with the exception of the white Áo Dài commonly seen with high school girls in Vietnam.

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