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In general, Vietnamese clothing is very diverse. Every ethnic group in Vietnam has its own style of clothing. Festivals provide an opportunity for the various ethnic groups to wear their favorite clothes. Over thousands of years, the traditional clothing of all ethnic groups in Vietnam has changed, but each ethnic group has separately maintained their own characteristics.

During the Nguyen period - the final dynasty in Vietnam, young women wore light brown-colored short shirts with long black skirts. Their headgear consisted of a black turban with a peak in the front. To make their waist look smaller, they fasten a long piece of pink or violet cloth. On formal occasions, they wore a special three-layered dress called an "ao dai", a long gown with slits on either side. The outer garment was a special silk gown called an "ao tu than" which was brown or light brown in color with four slits divided equally on its lower section. The second layer was a gown in a light yellow color and the third layer was a pink gown. When a woman wore her three gowns, she fastened the buttons on the side, and leaved those on the chest unfastened so that it formed a shaped collar. This allowed her to show the different colors on the upper part of the three gowns. Beneath the three gowns was a bright red brassiere which was covered the woman's neck.

Together with �ao tu than�, there�s an indispensable thing - �non quai thao� - a flat palm hat with fringes. Yet the women in the North loved to wear brown shirts, whereas in the Central and South provinces, women usually wore black, middle- buttoned shirts. By the end of Tu Duc�s dynasty, a special shirt called �ao ba ba� was introduced in the South. Bibliographies described that men wore brocade or gauze-made gowns, crepe turbans, and buffalo-leathered slippers.

Up to the beginning of 19 century, women in all parts of the country knew the value of cosmetics. In 1935, �Le Mur� long dress appearance was a remarkable event. It was a mandarin collared, puff-sleeved dress. At first, the �Le Mur� dress had several features borrowed from European dresses current at that time, and was considered the most modern fashion. Over time, the traditional "ao dai" has gone through certain changes. Long gowns are now carefully tailored to fit the body of a Vietnamese woman. The two long slits along the side allow the gown to have two free floating panels in the front and at the back of the dress. The floating panels expose a long pair of white silk trousers.

An elegant looking conical palm hat, which is traditionally known as a "non bai tho" (a hat with poetry written on it), is worn as part of a woman's formal dress. This traditional conical hat is particularly suitable for a tropical country such as Vietnam, where fierce sunshine and hard rain are commonplace.

To make a conical hat, a hat maker chooses young palm leaves and lets them be dried under the sunshine. Attached beneath the almost transparent layers of dried palm leaves is a drawing of a small river wharf. Below the drawing, there is a piece of poetry to be recited by the hat wearer.

Under the effect of social development, Vietnamese costume has gradually changed. In 1945, women started wearing black trousers and brown short shirts. European fashion influenced men clothes. The traditional set of a long gown and turban gave way to more modern looking suits, while business shirts and trousers were replaced traditional long sleeved shirts and wide trousers.

In recent years some foreign fashions have been introduced to Vietnam; it�s now easy to find young boys and girls in Western-style clothes imitated international music bands in big cities. Daily costumes of the Vietnamese people tend to be very simple and modest. Men wear shirts, trousers. Young women wear shirts with  trousers or skirts. However, the traditional "ao dai" remains preferable to women in both urban and rural settings. Traditional costumes still exist and efforts are increasingly being made to restore traditional festivals and entertainment, which incorporate traditional costumes.

 
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