Ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese long dress

Nha Trang Travel Blog

 › entry 122 of 126 › view all entries
Students in ao dai

Of countless styles of costume and dress all around the world, few seem so impressive, graceful, and elegant as the ao dai - the traditional Vietnamese long dress. Silky wide pants reach to the soles of the feet and often brush the floor. The body-hugging top flatters every figure and also flows to ankle or floor level. Its sides are slit well above the waist to provide comfort and ease of movement. The striking design dates back to the mid-1700's and has been modified over the years by varying sleeves and necklines or printed materials.

The ao dai is commonly worn on formal occasions and by many office secretaries, hotel receptionists, waitresses at finer restaurants, and by dozens of other business representatives. Their color is indicative of age and status. Young girls and high school seniors wear pure white to symbolize purity.

High school students
Older girls, unmarried, wear soft pastels. Married women can be recognized by bolder, brighter colors.

I reckoned no other photograph would be more symbolic of Vietnam than a pretty girl in a pure white ao dai. I found two high schools in Nha Trang where the seniors wore them only on Mondays. The 06:30 session let out at 11:30 when those students would be done for the day. Others began classes at 12:30. While sipping iced coffee from across the street, I was able to photograph the finishing class at one location then go to the other to catch the arriving students. Even after several weeks I never got the photo I was looking for since none of the stylish students wore the traditional cone hat. Instead, the graceful dress was most often topped with a baseball cap or motorbike helmet along with a protective face mask.

sarahsan says:
A baseball cap! I guess time is changing there as well! Too bad about the traditional cone hat.
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012
sylviandavid says:
They do look so cute .... I wonder if you caught them on a rainy day if you would see the cone hats?... loved the pictures: especially the boy in green and girl... (I bought a cone hat in yangshou china. I wore it but when I tried to bargain with the locals they wouldn't budge on prices.... so I put it back at the motel....)
Posted on: Jan 07, 2012
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Students in ao dai
Students in ao dai
High school students
High school students
Riding to class
Riding to class
Going to class
Going to class
Flexibility of an ao dai
Flexibility of an ao dai
At the school
At the school
Waiting for a ride
Waiting for a ride
Waiting for class
Waiting for class
High school students
High school students
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85