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Description: The traditional Vietnamese woman's dress, the ao dai is considered by Westerners to be one of the most elegant and feminine national costumes in the world. Over the last thirty years, the ao dai has undergone many changes. French influence has contributed to its present uncluttered, flowing charm. Unlike the tight-fitting Chinese cheongsam, which tends to restrict movement, the Vietnamese ao dai, with its close-fitting bodice, free-flowing front and back panels, and long black or white silk trousers is a delicate and airy garment. Though these long, flowing panels are something of a hazard when riding a bicycle or sitting side-saddle on a motor scooter, Vietnamese women consider that the ao dai's advantages far outweigh its drawbacks - especially when it comes to hiding unshapely legs, thick ankles, or knobby knees.
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