The ao dai (Vietnamese: áo dài) is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly for women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pantaloons. Áo is derived from a Middle Chinese word meaning "padded coat".Dài means "long".
The word "ao dai" was originally applied to the outfit worn at the court of the Nguyễn Lords at Huế in the 18th century. This outfit evolved into the áo ngũ thân, a five-paneled aristocratic gown worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by Paris fashions, Nguyễn Cát Tường and other artists associated with Hanoi University redesigned the ngũ thân as a modern dress in the 1920s and 1930s. The updated look was promoted by the artists and magazines of Tự Lực văn đoàn ("Self-Reliant Literary Group") as a national costume for the modern era. In the 1950s, Saigon designers tightened the fit to produce the version worn by Vietnamese women today. The dress was extremely popular in South Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. On Tết and other occasions, Vietnamese men may wear an áo gấm "(brocade robe)", a version of the ao dai made of thicker fabric.
Academic commentary on the ao dai emphasizes the way the dress ties feminine beauty to Vietnamese nationalism, especially in the form of "Miss Ao Dai" pageants, popular both among overseas Vietnamese and in Vietnam itself. "Ao dai" is one of the few Vietnamese words that appear in English-language dictionaries.
Ao Tu Than
Áo Tứ Thân or “4-part dress” is one of several traditional Vietnamese costumes. Áo Tứ Thân is considered one of Vietnam's enduring relics, having been worn widely by women centuries before the Áo Dài. As Vietnam expanded southward, Áo Tứ Thân gradually became associated specifically with northern women.
Áo Tứ Thân was the dress of peasant women, which explains why it was often made with plain fabric in dark colors, except when it was to be worn at special occasions such as festivals or weddings. Regardless of its many different forms, the basic Áo tứ thân consists of:
* A flowing outer tunic, reaching almost to the floor. It is open at the front, like a jacket. At the waist the tunic splits into two flaps: a full flap in the back (made up of two flaps sewn together) and the two flaps in the front which are not sewn together but can be tied together or left dangling.
* A long skirt, worn under the tunic.
* Yếm, an ancient bodice worn as an undergarment by women. It comes in many fabrics and colors, worn under the skirt and outer tunic.
* A silk sash which is tied at the waist as a belt.
Áo Tứ Thân in modern-day Vietnam (worn almost exclusively in northern-related festivals) tends to be extremely colorful, using different hues throughout the dress, from the tunic to the bodice and the skirt.
Áo Tứ Thân is now obsolete in terms of its daily use in Vietnam. However, it can be seen often in traditional occasions such as festivals, especially in northern Vietnam.
Ao ba ba
Áo bà ba (or Vietnamese silk pajamas) is a traditional Vietnamese costume. It is most associated with southern Vietnam, especially in rural areas.
The áo bà ba simply consists of a pair of silk pants and a long-sleeved, button-down silk shirt. The shirt will be somewhat long and split at the sides of the waist, forming two flaps. In the front of the shirt at the very bottom are typically two pockets.
The garment's simplicity and versatility has contributed to its popularity, as it is used by an overwhelming amount of the population, whether in rural or urban areas. It can be worn 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.
All of this makes it easy to explain the costume's natural presence in almost every aspect of Vietnamese life.
Vietnamese Yếm refers to an ancient Vietnamese bodice used primarily as an undergarment that was once worn by Vietnamese women across all classes. There exists a modern variant called "áo yếm", but the historical garment was simply called "yếm". It was most usually worn underneath a blouse or overcoat, for modesty's sake.
It is a simple garment with many variations from its basic form, which is a simple, usually diamond or square-cut piece of cloth draped over a woman's chest with strings to tie at the neck and back.
The origin of the yếm is still unknown to many historians and scholars. The yếm has been worn by northern Vietnamese women traditionally. Unlike other Vietnamese clothing that helped to segregate the classes, yếm were worn as an undergarment by Vietnamese women of all walks of life, from peasant women toiling in the fields to imperial consorts
As Westernization inevitably reached Vietnam, by the 20th century women increasingly abandoned the yếm for the Western bra.
Fashion designers, in their constant quest to revitalize interest in traditional costumes as well as reinvent the latter have created many new collections of yếm. The modernized form of the garment is slightly different and is called "áo yếm" rather than simply "yếm", the latter referring to the historical garment. Áo yếm has proven to be quite popular with young women, perhaps due to its similarity to the Western halter top.
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