The traditional attire of the Vietnamese in the north is a pajama set for men. A robe, bra, and trousers for women, brown color is usually worn. In the south both men and women wear pajamas.
At present, the costumes resemble western clothing. Traditional costumes of the Vietnamese people tend to be very simple and modest.
In past times, there were strict dress codes. Ordinary people were not allowed to wear clothes with dyes other than black, brown, or white. Costumes in yellow were reserved for the King. Those in purple and red were reserved for high ranking court officials, while dresses in blue were exclusively worn by petty women officials. Men's dress has gradually changed along with social development. The traditional set of a long gown gave way to more modern looking suits, while business shirts and pants have replaced traditional long-sleeved shirts and wide pants. Traditional costumes still exist and efforts are increasingly being made to bring back traditional festivals and entertainment with traditional costumes.
Every ethnic group in Vietnam has its own style of clothing. Festivals are the occasion for all 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 its own characteristics. In the mountain areas, people live in houses built on stilts, wear pants or skirts, and vests with designs imitating wildflowers and beasts. In the northern uplands and the Central Highlands, the young women have made skirts and vests with beautiful and colorful decoration in a style for farm working and to travel on hilly slopes and mountains.
Vietnamese consider clean, well-pressed clothes to be important. Women usually don't wear skirts above their knees. It is not unusual to see men wearing their pajamas on the streets. It is acceptable for old men to wear their pajamas and sandals as their regular day-time clothes.
Fashion sense may stand out in this traditionally patriotic country, but it lights the way ahead for Vietnam's fledgling fashion industry, both domestically and if it is to attempt to make its mark in the global market for trendsetting fashion. The emerging industry is concentrated around Ho Chi Minh City with its growing population of trendy and relatively affluent urbanites. Critics say most designers here simply copy or improvise Western and Chinese patterns. But a band of young designers in the southern business capital is seeking to assert a separate identity with works partly inspired by Vietnamese traditions that are catching the eye of foreign designers.
In Vietnam as in the rest of the world, men are generally less fashion-focused than women, but even some young men are beginning to pay more attention to what they wear. Some are adopting a sort of American skateboarder look. And some, like their female counterparts, are dyeing their hair red I like to mix many colors because I want to have fun and create the image of a happy life." After nearly two decades of economic reforms, fun, and a happy life are becoming affordable for many Vietnamese people. "People have so far been used to wearing something that lasts long, synthetic fabrics, "Now the living standards are upgraded and people care about what they wear. It is a good sign of fashion. They realize that silk or cotton or linen is good and they begin to use many different kinds of material and colors.