Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy


Ao Dai is a traditional Vietnamese costume. People wear Ao Dai with trousers, overhanging from the neck to the knees. Both men and women can wear it. However, now there are commonly more women wearing it than man do.

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

People like wearing Ao Dai on festive occasions, in environments that require solemnity and courtesy, a high school or college student uniform and it may represent the national costume in international relations. Most Vietnamese men choose to wear that for ethnic costumes at international beauty contests.

I. The history of Ao Dai

1. The history of Ao Dai for women

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

No one knows the time that Ao Dai originally was born and how it looked because there are no records and not many people research. The earliest vestiges of the Vietnamese, according to the engravings on the face of the Ngoc Lu drum several thousand years ago, showed the women in costumes with two long pieces of their dresses.

a. Tu Than Ao Dai (XVII – XX)

For the sake of the co-worker, people made a neat Ao Dai Tu Than with two front flaps being tightened together, and the two flaps turned into a dress. They had to pair two lapels behind to create deviant.  As a costume of the popular class, people usually sewed Ao Dai Tu Than from dark fabrics for work. Less labor-intensive urban women often dressed in body-worn clothing to distinguish themselves from the working poor. It was like a four-piece dress, and they sewed it together into two front and back like a long dress.

b. Lemur Ao Dai (1939 – 1943)

The daring breakthrough that contributed to the design of today’s ao dai is the “Le Mur” style dress created by Cat Tuong in 1939. Unlike the traditional wide-sleeved shirt, Le Mur made the curves of the body slimmer with a lot of details such as the hand and puffy heart neck. People at that time s strongly condemned that image of Ao Dai so only gender Stylish modern style dared to wearers. By 1943, this style of dress gradually became forgotten.

c. Mrs. Nhu Ao Dai (1960 – 1965)

In the early 1960s, Mrs. Tran Thi Xuan, the wife of Mr. Ngo Dinh Nhu, designed the style of open long neck and removed the collar. The famous Ao Dai called Mrs. Nhu met with a strong reaction against the tradition and fine customs of society at the time.

d. Tightening waist Ao Dai (1960 – 1970)

In the 1960s, tightening waist Ao Dai challenged the traditional view to becoming fashionable. At this point, women used a comfortable bra widely. Urban women with open minds wanted to bend the curves of the body through the waistcoat tight to the chest.

e. Modern dress (1970 – now)

After the 1970s, the renew of life made Ao Dai forgotten. However, from 1970 to now, Ao Dai has come back with many different designs and materials through the creative and innovative collections of designers. The dress was renewed from traditional designs to the wedding dress, short dress to wear with jeans …

2. The history of Ao Dai for men

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

The skirt with a pair of trousers and a headband are also the national costume for men. Women use cool colors while men are black, white, or dark. According to the edict issued from the Lord Nguyen Vu Vuong, the dress code for men was less restrictive and airy. Since 1952, Prime Minister Tran Van Huu has appointed a national dress for government officials. If the ceremony is religious or historical, then, a towel is black and silk pants are white. So if it comes to the traditional dress, the new dress is more bold, which legal documents regulated to (Lord Nguyen Vu Vuong) and the dress code is clearer Minh Mang King’s complete dress for the Ao Dai.

When it comes to Vietnamese dresses, both domestic and foreign people often think of Ao Dai. Vietnamese Ao Dai for men is not as popular as those for women. Ao Dai appears only at festivals bearing bold Vietnamese tradition or wedding ceremony. In particular, at the APEC 2006, high-level week held in Vietnam, during the launch of the Joint Declaration, leaders of APEC economies wore traditional costumes from the host country.

II. Design of Modern Ao Dai

Collar: The classic collar is about 4 to 5 cm high. Today, designers create a variety of types of long collar such as heart type, round neck, U neck and often embroider the collar.
Bodice: The bodice is determined from the neck down to the waist. The buttons are usually from the neck to the shoulder and pulled down to the hips. From the waist, the body of the shirt is split into two layers.
Layers: Ao Dai has two layers: the front and the back. In the past, the first troupe was shorter than the latter. The front dress is usually embroidered with patterns or poems.
Sleeve: The sleeve is calculated from the shoulder, may hug close to the arm, long past the wrist.

Ao Dai is usually worn with a pair of pants instead of the old dress. Long pants are sewn heel and wide. The pant was made of sturdy fabric, now usually sewn with a soft cloth. The most common color is white. But fashion trends today, the clothes are long with the color of the shirt.

III. The role of Ao Dai in Vietnamese people’s life

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Vietnamese dresses are both traditional and modern. Therefore, women can wear Ao Dai anywhere, for office wear, school uniforms, outerwear or formal wear at home. The wearing of this dress is not frivolous or sophisticated, things are simple to wear: wear with silk pants or soft cloth, at the foot of comedy, clogs, or whatever shoes are. If you need a formal (such as bridal attire), add a traditional cape or blouse, or a Western crown as you like. The modern ao dai (modern ao dai) seems to have its own way of honoring everybody. The upper part hugged the body but the two flaps let loose on the wide pants.

The pair of lice saw on the waist makes the gesture of the wearer comfortable, the shape of the body, the feminine, just closed because the whole body is covered with soft silk, and also sexy because of the shirt. Exit to live waist. The modern one shows your personality highly. The tailor gets the measurements carefully. When the garment finishes, it is time to put on a new one.

1. Wearing Ao Dai in Tet holiday

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

In Tet Holiday, it is easy to see the image of Ao Dai on the street. In addition to the traditional Ao Dai, in recent years, the trend of Ao Dai with young motifs, pants hugging is also very well received by women. Tet costumes with red, yellow, green, blue or flowery colors help the wearer to be young and attractive at the beginning of the year filled with joy and happiness.

People prefer red color for the holiday season because this color represents good luck, love, passion and a good start. Red is also the color that is not only fashionable in fashion but also showing the prominence, charm, and burns of women. Red comes in a variety of colors from bright red to dark red and can be matched with many other colors such as black, white, pink, purple … If you are not confident enough to wear the red outfits, you can start with small items like shoes, handbags, towels or hats.

2. Wearing Ao Dai in the engagement parties & weddings

a. Ao Dai for brides

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Wearing two different dresses in the engagement party and wedding is not compulsory in the traditional wedding. However, the brides often do not want to miss anything, including the preparation of decent costumes to take pictures of each of the most beautiful moments of the day. Therefore, most of them will choose to have two Ao Dai for their engagement party and wedding.

b. Ao Dai for mothers of bride and groom

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Compared to brides’ Ao Dai, the one for mothers of bride and groom place more emphasis on comfort and decoration to hide the stereotype. However, designers still promote the splendor and elegance to suit a special occasion such as a wedding.

c. Ao Dai for bridesmaids 

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Lovely bridesmaids will be an impressive point in the big day. So, the bride and groom will never forget the special guests from the costumes, makeup, flower hands or accessories …  suitable for party space. Catching up with this demand, domestic wedding fashion brands offer many beautiful designs for bridesmaids alongside wedding dresses.

3. Wearing Ao Dai in special occasions

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

In some special and important occasions, such as festivals and meetings, women dress Ao Dai as a way to show their respect. Especially, in the meetings of governments, staffs, and wives of authorities wear Ao Dai to make the meetings graver and more polite. Ao Dai represents the national costume in international relations. Most Vietnamese men choose to wear that for ethnic costumes at international beauty contests.

4. Wearing Ao Dai in daily life

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

In recent years, Vietnamese dress has become closer to everyday life. In the past, ao dai was only for fashion shows or used for festivals, Tet, nowadays, women wear long dresses when going to work, on trips. Many models always catch up with the trend and needs of the wearer. Besides, it is also considered as a high school or college student uniform. Up to now, the traditional Ao Dai has been changed and modernized. Vietnamese Ao Dai with many new designs, shorter dresses, can be worn with breeches, pants or dress with skirts.

IV. Tips when wearing Ao Dai

Because Ao Dai celebrates women’s curves, they are always looking for different ways to wear it beautifully to go to luxury places, rituals, and even Spring Festival. Women who are too skinny or too chubby easily show more weaknesses when wearing Ao Dai.

1. Tips when buying Ao Dai

a. Buying Ao Dai for slender and skinny body

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Collar: Those should choose Ao Dai with a collar high from 3 inches but not over 4.5 cm, the way to wear high collar will help hide the neck bone and make you more confident and active.

Form: You should choose the one fitly and avoid using not hugged one.

Material: When choosing Ao Dai for thin people should choose a soft lightweight fabric, slightly elastic and not too thin. Silky soft fabric, synthetic silk, brocade, satin, velvet … is the most suitable for you. In particular, you should choose the one that designer sew 2 layers to make your body more fully.

Color: You should choose the neutral color, such as light yellow and mint green, which will brighten up the skin and make you look full. If your skin is bright and white, the colors red, dark pink, yellow, orange… are the right color for you when wearing, which make your body fuller.

b. Buying Ao Dai for chubby body

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

Collar: You should not choose Ao Dai with round shape, because those having the round neck will reveal short neck defects, so you can choose the round neck shirt, V, or charming boat neck.

Color: The way to wear Ao Dai with a boat neck, dark purple color, the dark red color will fit the shape of you. Ao Dai with a neutral color and slightly inclined to cold tone will help people have a leaner body look better.

Material: People with a round shape should choose soft, flexible, but thick material that can hide the weaknesses. Especially, you should avoid the glossy fabrics, such as satin, silk.

c. Buying Ao Dai for fit body

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

With this body, you can choose to wear with any style, any pattern or texture you like. To get the most beautiful Ao Dai, you should not sew with chiffon material because with this is too thin that loses the beauty of the texture of the chiffon fabric. Besides choosing the style, material, makeup … the style of the wearer through every gesture, gait, and language of gentle communication will create real beauty for Vietnamese women.

2. Tips to get a perfect appearance with Ao Dai

Exploring Ao Dai from Traditional to Trendy

a. How to choose suitable underwear

Firstly, to emphasize the beauty of the background, the inherent delicacy of Ao Dai, the interior should not be too prominent to feel disrespectful traditional. You should choose the color nude or the same color as the shirt is the most discreet. Secondly, with confident ladies with sexy shoulders and a long lace dress, choose bra underwear or detachable strap. The breasts that hold the breasts, the slightly pointed at the head and the distance between the two breasts close together will shape the upper body of the neat and rounder.

b. How to mix Ao Dai with accessories

Classic girlfriends may choose to wear scarves, neckties with long dresses. However, this combination is usually only for a formal wedding or photo shoots. You can choose from a variety of pearl necklaces from earrings, necklaces to rings, rings, rings and so on. It will be your highlight and attractive in the eyes.  With accessories such as handbags and purses, you should choose small items, which can be the same color tone with a long dress or simple black and white.

V. Conclusion for Ao Dai Vietnam

Each nation, each ethnic group has its own culture, characteristics of each region and its own traditional costume. Japanese women are proud of Kimono, Korean women are famous for Hanbok, Indian women left a very special impression with Sari … Vietnamese women, from ancient days to now, are always showing the beauty with the traditional dress and charming grace.

Life is growing and changing day by day. Although the demand and fashion style are changing according to the people of the times, it will still be the symbol of the Vietnamese woman without any costume in the future. The image of the charming Vietnamese woman with ao dai will forever be a deep impression for both domestic and foreign tourists and it is always the traditional culture of Vietnamese women.

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