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Thua Thien-Hue Culture Department Officials Start Wearing Áo Dài to Work

Áo dài has become synonymous with the image of the Vietnamese woman, but what about its male version?

Starting in September, the Department of Culture and Sports of Thua Thien-Hue Province began a new policy requiring its civil servants and employees — both male and female — to wear traditional áo dài to work on the first Monday of every month and on festive occasions, Tuoi Tre reports. September 7 was the first day this initiative took effect.

Images of department officials in their traditional garb have surfaced online, inspiring many conversations amongst netizens about the use of áo dài as a work uniform, especially for male workers. Female employees are clad in purple áo dài and khăn đóng, an accompanying headdress, while their male counterparts wear cerulean áo ngũ thân and a similar turban in a dark shade of blue.

The majority of responses were delighted by the reappearance of áo ngũ thân and praised the department for doing its part in preserving past costumes. But some feel that the male costume is too festive and out of place for daily working tasks in an office.

Department Director Phan Thanh Hải told the newspaper in an interview that the áo dài policy is on a trial basis, and only applies to the department’s office workers. Those working in the field or driving are not required to wear a traditional outfit. According to Hải, the cultural department doesn’t have a commonly recognized uniform like their colleagues in the police or military, so picking the áo dài to do the job seems like a natural decision.

Previously, the department was tasked by the provincial People’s Committee to research and execute the project to establish Hue as “the áo dài capital of Vietnam,” so the new office policy seems like the logical first step in promoting the traditional outfit in the local culture.

Áo dài as work attire is not a novel concept in Vietnam, though it’s a new development for male employees. For decades, scores of teachers, flight attendants, tour guides and hospitality workers have been wearing the national dress for work.

[Photo via VTC]

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