National dress

The young women in this image from a tourism poster are wearing the national dress designed by Vietnamese nationalists in the 1920s. (Learn more)

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Vietnamese national women’s dress includes a long, high-necked silk tunic that is slit at the sides to the waist. Here the solid-color, pastel tunics are worn over matching full-length skirts, common to northern Vietnam, but they also are worn over white or black silk pants in the central and southern regions. The costume is called áo dài (pronounced “ow zai”).

This costume actually was created in the 1920s, during the period of French rule, when Vietnamese nationalists envisioned a pan-Vietnam costume that would contrast with both European clothes and the varied ethnic and status-differentiated clothing that existed throughout the regions of precolonial Vietnam.

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