Gay and Lesbian Travel in Vietnam

Ao Dai – Traditional Vietnamese Dress

Ao tu than chorus of women

For most visitors, lesbian and gay alike, one of the lasting impressions is the beauty of Vietnamese women dressed in their Ao Dais. These long flowing dresses worn over loose-fitting trousers are considered to be the national dress of women.  It is hard to think of a more elegant, demure and yet sexy outfit, that suits Vietnamese women of all ages than the Ao Dai.

Early versions of this costume date back to 1744, when  men and women to wore a trouser and gown ensemble that buttoned down the front.  Although popular, it generally was worn only on ceremonial occasions such as at weddings and funerals.  It took another 20 years before the next major design change occurred and nearly another 200 years before the modern Ao Dai emerged.

Ao tu than purple sash During the 1950s, two Saigon tailors, Tran Kim of Thiet Lap Tailors and Dung of Dung Tailors, started producing the gowns with raglan sleeves. This created a diagonal seam running from the collar to the underarm and is the preferred style today.

There have been many stylish alterations in color and collar design in the past four decades. Most noticeable is the gradual shortening of the gown’s length, such that today, it is usually just below the knee. Variations in the neck collar, between boat and mandarin style, are common.

Girls in traditional white dress
But more adventurous alterations such as low scooped necklines, puffed sleeves, and off-the-shoulder designs are emerging as more women experiment with fashion. Every Ao Dai is custom-made, and with less rigid control over color and access to new fabrics, the newest creations have had dazzling results.

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