Vietnamese traditional outfits you should know for exploring Vietnam

Traditional clothing is rarely mentioned by foreigners when they come to Vietnam, except the Ao Dai. In this post, I will mention some Vietnamese traditional outfits you should know for exploring Vietnam. Traditional outfits also as a cultural heritage of Vietnam. Go along with them, there are many historical stories about their purpose and their creations.

Ao Dai

Ao Dai today comes from Ao Dai Giao Lanh – the precursor form of Ao Dai
The modern Ao Dai

Ao Dai was born in the time of Nguyen Phuc Khoan – a Lord of Vietnam at that time (1739-1765). After the huge movement of Minh Huong people came to Vietnam, the lord decided to distinguish the Vietnamese people with them by creating the Ao Dai. At the beginning of Ao Dai creation, the primer of it is the Ao Dai Giao Lanh. It is the historic cross-collared robe. The shape of Ao Dai Giao Lanh has a thin coat will over a camisole, two crossed set collars, and the skirt is loose. Furthermore, there were some differences between the poor and the rich for this costume. Poor people at that must go on barefoot while the noble people will have shoes, wooden logs or slippers.

By the time, tailors in different generation have developed the Ao Dai day by day. Thus, it could suitable for the situation of contemporary society. Nowadays, the style of modern Ao Dai is simpler than before. There are 2 pieces of the shirt, at the back and front. Therefore, the look of Ao Dai also contains the pure core value of the Ao Dai Giao Lanh. Besides, some tailors will add more embroidery motifs on the 2 side of the shirt. Thus, it could be more unique and does not have a boring look.

Four-panel traditional dress (Ao Tu Than)

Ao Tu Than also innovated from Ao Dai Giao Lanh also. It was used by poor people because it appropriates with the farm working. Tailors attach the back with a large piece of fabric but cut into 2 pieces of the shirt at the bottom and 2 pieces of fabric together at the front. At the upper chest, the hidden camisole inside will be revealed but the two side of the body still covered by Ao Tu Than.

There are black pants and the silk-color belts are accessories with this costume. At the early 19th century, the camisole was the alternative instead of the bra today. A special turban and a cloth strap are 2 main accessories for this traditional outfit also.

Mrs. Ba’s shirt or loose-fitting blouse (Ao Ba Ba)

Represent for the south of Vietnam, Mrs. Ba’s shirt has gone along with women in here for centuries. Moreover, the image of women wearing this shirt also reappears naive beauty and pure. The loose-fitting blouse is a traditional shirt for people in the South, it accompanies with the women on the field for a long time ago.

The back of this shirt is made by a piece of seamless fabric. In front of it, there are two smaller pieces and each of them will have a row of buttons from the top down.

Nhat Binh traditional dress (Ao Nhat Binh)

Created from Minh Dynasty, Nhat Binh traditional dress appeared for hundreds of years ago. There are two layers inside of this dress. Before going to dress the Nhat Binh dress, people will fit with the collard shirt. To make this traditional dress fulfillment, there is a hat made by a long special towel. This towel could wrap up to 40-50 rings and the number of the rings will depend on the rank of the wearer.


To sum up, Ao Dai has been developed for centuries up to now. As a traveler, you should know traditional clothing not only in Vietnam but also in other countries and area. I believe that you will enjoy discovering Vietnamese traditional clothing because of its diversity. Once come to Vietnam, you must have to try Ao Dai because it is as one of the precious heritage in Vietnam. Besides, there is still much traditional clothing that needs your discover.

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Quang Phan


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