Vietnam has not merely gained well-deserved reputation for their enchanting landscapes, unique culinary art, friendly people, but Vietnam's costume also left a lasting impression on foreign visitors to this land of rich tradition. Being one of the three crucial parts of human beings' material life (food, accommodation and clothing), Vietnam's costume has considerable changes in color and design through historical development to be appropriate for people's demand, but it still preserves traditional values.
The "Ao Dai" with its elegant and flattering look has long been considered to be the traditional dress for Vietnamese women. Early versions of the Ao Dai dated from 1744 when Lord Vu Vuong of the Nguyen Dynasty issued a decree that both men and women should wear an ensemble of trousers and a gown fastened with buttons in the front.
This dress is deemed to be one of Vietnam's enduring traditional attires, having been worn widely by Vietnamese women in the North centuries before the emergence of the Ao Dai. Usually made of plain fabric in dark colors, the "Ao Tu Than" has long been a dress of peasant women.
Being one of the most elegant and aristocratic clothes worn by the royal ladies of the Nguyen court, Ao Dai Menh Phu is usually embroidered with imperial symbols such as the phoenix and includes an extravagant long flowing outer robe with large, wide sleeves. The robe having the same pattern as the dress is open from the collar down.
In the old days, "Yem Dao" was used to imply a typical Vietnamese undergarment worn by Vietnamese women from all walks of life. The origin of this unique costume is still unclear, but many researchers have shown that the first version of "yem" appeared in the 12th century under Ly dynasty.
It has long been said that Ao Ba Ba becomes a symbol of the gentle soul and the elegant beauty of Vietnamese women, especially in the Southern rural areas of Vietnam. Compared with other Vietnamese traditional costume, this special casual wear is assumed to be simpler and easier to make.
Travelling along Vietnam, tourists are likely to catch sight of local ladies donning "non la" (so called "conical leaf hat") and walking gracefully along the streets or sailing along wide rivers. In harmonious combination with Ao Dai- Vietnamese women's traditional dress, "non la" creates charming and romantic beauty leaving deep impressions on any tourists who visits this S-shaped strip of land.