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Ao dai and Turban –Traditional Attire of Vietnam


Vietnamese people are proud of their traditional attire, an Ao dai with a turban, not unlike the Japanese with their kimono and the French with their smart suit. The combo of Ao dai and turban make the wearer look serious and elegant and it is usually worn at festivals and ceremonies.

It is interesting that the attire of Ao dai and turban is common for both women and men. The Ao dai for woman usually clings tightly to the wearer’s body with its flaps separated at the waist, while the Ao dai for man always hangs loosely. The turban for woman is worn high on the head while the turban for man is worn lower.

Since long ago the Ao dai and turban have been attached to the life of people in both rural areas and cities. Normally when there were important events in a village, men and women had to wear the Ao dai and turban to be permitted into the communal house. Woman wore an Ao dai made of flower patterned material and a turban made of embroidered silk while man wore an Ao dai made of crape and a black turban. The Ao dai and turban worn by the elders and senior people were red in colour and printed with the Chinese calligraphic script “longevity”. The attire for children is green, red or yellow, very eye-catching and beautiful. It was, and for some people still is customary to wear this attire to important events, such as a death anniversary, wedding ceremony, village’s festival and Tet (New Year Festival).

Today the Ao dai and turban are used mostly by women. In the rural areas, especially the areas that still retain old customs, the local people usually wear the Ao dai and turban during ceremonies. In the cities, some young newly weds like to wear the Ao dai and turban for their wedding ceremony to show traditional Vietnamese solemnity and recall the old customs.

Foreign visitors to Vietnam are very interested in the Ao dai. In the ancient town of Hoi An, Quang Nam Province there are tailor shops specializing in making the Ao dai and turbans to meet the demands of visitors’. Many foreign visitors like to wear the Ao dai and turban when they attend the festivals in the north. At Festival Hue foreign artists also select the Ao dai and turban to wear during their performances. Many western girls who visit Vietnam buy this attire as a souvenir.

Being an authentic dress of Vietnam, the Ao dai and turban was selected as the attire for the Heads of States during the closing ceremony of the APEC Meeting held in 2006 in Hanoi.

Over time, the traditional attire of Ao dai and turban has been preserved. In the minds of the Vietnamese, the Ao dai and turban is the national attire. (Source: Vietnam Pictorial)

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