In Ann Marie Leshkowich’s article, The Ao Dai Goes Global: How International Influences and Female Entrepreneurs Have Shaped Vietnam’s “National Costume” discusses the history of the ao dai and how it has changed itself over time. When I was reading the article, and read the words national costume, I thought that ever ethnicity had one that came from the roots from their culture. I did not think that there were other influences from other cultures woven into the threads that created them. She writes, “charting the ao dai’s distant and more recent history provides and instructive example of how global processes construct supposedly local cultures” (Leskowich 89). Which in this case, she goes on and describes that Confucianism has a strong authority over how the ao dai was constructed with it’s long sleeved, long dress over pantaloon construction. Or as my Vietnamese housemate describes it as, “fancy silk pajamas”.
In the article featured in talk.onevietnam.org called Ao Dai: History and Significance in Vietnamese Culture, Isabella Nga Lai talks about the anatomy of the ao dai, and where it is worn. Many women wear it for special occasions, such as weddings and holidays. Lai believes that, “this dress is a national symbol of femininity”. And I would have to say; the body hugging tailoring and the use of soft colors depict the social construction of what feminine is.
Be Green Update: I am having terrible withdrawals, I see all of these ads on TV saying how they are opening Black Friday at 8pm now, and these door buster deals will go quick after the first 4 hours of this epic event. I am trying really hard not to buy anything at all, and these TV ads are shouting my name! But so far, so good, I have not bought one piece of clothing since this whole experiment began, and I’m even donating some of my old clothes that I don’t even wear anymore, so I can make my half of the closet more organized.