A Western Woman’s Look in Ao Dai


Below is a personal experience by writer Ngoc Hien:
I was at a Vietnamese wedding recently but saw only one ao dai. The interesting thing was. the wearer was a Western woman. I don’t mean to object to the fact that none of the Vietnamese women at the wedding wore an ao dai because each Vietnamese woman looked attractive in her Western dress or skirt.

Cultural exchanges happen two ways. If Western costumes make us look good, we should wear them. If a foreigner becomes more graceful in our Vietnamese ao dai, we’ll favour her wearing it. This is not strange.The interesting thing is that the ao dai has turned out to be very useful, for it can hide ninety per cent of the wearer’s physical imperfections. The two free-floating flaps will hide short legs or bow legs. You don’t have to worry if you have a large waist. In fact, a fat woman can use an ao dai to make her body look slimmer.

Western woman in the Vietnamese ao dai
Western woman in the Vietnamese ao dai

However, these advantages for Vietnamese girls may turn out to be disadvantages for Westerners. The reason is their shoulders. Some Western women’s shoulders are too large for an ao dai to hide. Ao dais look better on the slender shoulders of Vietnamese.

But there was no problem for that Western woman, whose husband was a Vietnamese photographer. He himself looked like a hippie with long hair and a beard. But his appearance didn’t reveal everything. He must have advised his wife to wear an ao dai to the wedding. Furthermore, while a singer crooned “Ha Dong’s Silk Gown,” he pleasantly explained to her the meaning of the song about the white ao dai she was wearing. Her gray eyes opened wide in delighted astonishment.

In spite of her large and strong shoulders, the Westerner was quite graceful in her ao dai , which was printed with bamboo leaves. Perhaps her ao dai was the only true and interesting thing to win attention from visitors at the wedding party.

When the party was over, a taxi arrived. The taxi driver opened the car’s door. Oh My! Before sitting on the car seat, that lovely young Westerner slightly lifted her ao dai’s back flap to one side as skillfully as any Vietnamese girl.