Before buying an Ao Dai, the traditional clothing of Vietnamese women, you should know a certain number of things.
One doesn't have to travel far in HCMC to see woman dressed in long, snug fitting shiny dresses. The form fitting but flowing ao dai (say 'ao yai'), worn over silk trousers, is said to flatter every figure. Ao dai translates to 'long dress'. According to one famous saying, the ao dai covers everything but hides nothing. As the Vietnamese national dress for women, the ao dai is heartily promoted by the national government. It is often called the ao dai Vietnam for patriotic reasons.
Getting the perfect fit requires each ao dai to be custom tailored according to an individual's measurements. Fittings are precise; one's undergarments and shoes are worked into the calculations. In Saigon ao dai can be created for both men and women though traditionally men wore the outfit less frequently, mostly at ceremonial events. The ao dai is comfortable to wear daily given its synthetic fiber construction and the cut of the design. Even the colour of the garment is symbolic. Young girls wear white; single older girls, pastels; and married women, deep rich colours.
There are several shops where you can buy an Ao Dai in Ho Chi Minh City. We recommend you the following:
Miss Ao Dai in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. This is also one of the best places to buy a souvenir from Vietnam.
Nagu in Continental Saigon Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City.
Gaya in District 2, the first International designer showroom in Vietnam.
Are you interesting in trying to wear an Ao Dai yourself? If you stay in Hoi An, you could register in the Ao Dai Photography Tour in which you are given the opportunity to try one and get professional pictures with them.