Recognised as the national symbol of Vietnam, today’s iconic ao dai has actually looked very different throughout the centuries, fusing Eastern and Western aesthetics. Though the ao dai is believed to have first made an appearance around 40 AD, or even earlier, the elegant style of dress really began to make its mark of Vietnamese style in 1744, when when the Southern Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat commanded people to wear a front-buttoned gown and trousers during his reign.
Though originally worn by both women and men, now the dress is most commonly worn by women and consists of a long, split tunic-like dress worn over trousers. Áo actually translates to “shirt” while dài means “long.”
See more about the ao dai’s fascinating evolution here!