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History of Áo dài

Pronounced "ao yai" in the south, and "ao zai" in the north, the costume has had a short history relative to the country and people of Vietnam.
Early versions of the garment date back to the early 1700's, and were influenced by imperial Chinese garb of the Qing dynasty, known as Qipao. Unlike its cousin the qipao, which is a tight fitted dress with slits on both sides (in its modern reincarnation), the áo dài is a looser tunic, which even in its tight-fitting form is still left wide and flowing at the bottom. Furthermore, the slits of the áo dài extend above the waistline, revealing a slight glimpse of the sides of the midriff.
The costume has faced countless modifications throughout the centuries but its basic form consists of a long flowing gown with a slit on both sides, often with a high fitted collar, worn over long silk pants.
Some historians have suggested that the áo dài was an evolution of different influences from many directions, including the ancient four-flapped tunic áo tứ thân, one of the other more well known (and much older than áo dài) traditional Kinh costumes.

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