Walking on Vietnam streets during the school year and you will likely witness dozens of beautiful Vietnamese girls gliding past on bicycles wearing pristine white flowing garments. It’s the Vietnamese national dress called Ao Dai. Most high schools and even a number of secondary schools citywide chose white ao dai as their female students’ uniforms as they want to educate and get all generations be aware of the beauty and meaning of it. Ao dai is often accompanied by a conical hat, and it has become an iconic symbol for Vietnamese culture.
Though some of my friends enjoy dressing their ao dai, which accentuates Vietnamese women’s grace, feminity and tactfulness, back then I personally found wearing ao dai every day to school highly inconvenient for commuting and outdoor activities while interacting with friends.
I feel that if school girls wear ao dai the entire week, they tend to be less appreciative of the national costume’s beauty and significance like I actually did. I even said to myself that I hate ao dai the most in the whole wide world. One of my teachers had a funny say about it, “you guys know, the ao dai when you wear it in cold-season, it’s cold, when you wear it in hot-season, it’s hot”. But who would know one day, I would love to bring that image to the world with all my pride.
Generally, the Vietnamese wear Ao Dai in special occasions. Depending on each event, designs and styles of Ao Dai range from simplicity to luxury. For example, Vietnamese high students prefer to wear Ao Dai with pure white or blue and simple garment while brides tend to choose the Ao Dai with sophisticated style offering a lovely and opulent look for their wedding photos. In the past, Ao Dai was worn by both men and women. Nowadays, the Vietnamese men only choose Ao Dai on some formal occasions like wedding or ceremony.