The women of the Far East are known for their elegance. In the villages women work just as hard as men, and few can look elegant if they are working in the fields or the kitchen but see them during your tours in Vietnam during one of the many festivals and you will immediately see the point. Vietnam travel packages will usually include the chance to see the daily life of villagers but if the visit corresponds to a special event, something like, Tet, Vietnamese New Year, work gives way to celebration.
The Ao Dai is the traditional Vietnamese costume for women and within the cities, you will see it worn by most ladies. Students in their long white robes walking to school or college. White is a sign of purity so this is the colour for young girls. Those who are slightly older, yet unmarried are likely to go for pastel shades. Office workers, even cycling past, wear the Ao Dai every day. You will be greeted at your hotel or perhaps at the restaurant where you are going to eat by ladies in Ao Dai. Pastel shades are very popular with younger women but older ladies are likely to wear the equally stunning deep colours such as purple or green.
There is something about the tight fitting top and flowing wide trousers that makes every Vietnamese lady look smart, and if you go shopping towards the end of your Vietnam tour package then an Ao Dai is a great thing to buy to take home for yourself, family or friends. The design ensures it is a very comfortable garment to wear. There are splits in the gown well above the waistline which help easy movement but also provides the odd glimpse of skin as well. It is still discreet but also somewhat sensual a garment.The trousers reach the floor and indeed the material tends to hide the feet and flows along the ground.
There is regular criticism of the ridiculously skinny fashion models regularly used in Western fashion shows; their shapes bear little relation to ordinary women. They may be fashionable and trendy in the eyes of some but those who travel to Vietnam may well start thinking about that when they look at the Ao Dai.An additional advantage of the Ao Dai is it is cool; made from silk often is does not crease and dries quickly. It can look as good as new after washing and used day after day.
Women wore buttoned gown and trousers as far back as the mid-18th Century but the Ao Dai as it is seen today is probably from the 1930s when the top became fitted and lengthened while the sleeves seen today were designed in the 1950s. The gown has perhaps been shortened a little since then? It is a costume for formal occasions as well as on a daily basis and few could argue that its elegance does not fit special occasions.