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Vietnamese Teacher Wears Ao Dai To Work, Reviving A Centuries-Old Tradition For Men

Vietnamese teacher wears ao dai to work

A few months ago, photos of Vietnamese men wearing ao dai to work in Hue sparked online debates on the revival of the ao dai-wearing tradition among Vietnamese men. Netizens also suggested that more companies and schools in Vietnam promote ao dai wearing among men to help preserve the tradition.

While the idea of men wearing ao dai to work sounds like an innovative idea to many, it’s a daily habit and nothing new for some. For university professor Ho Minh Quang, ao dai has been his everyday office wear for the past decade.

He’s been wearing ao dai to work for the past 10 years

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Image adapted from: Nguyễn Ngọc Yến

On 5th November, a photo of a Vietnamese teacher wearing ao dai while teaching in class was shared on Facebook group Cháo Hành Miễn Phí by user Nguyễn Ngọc Yến.

The teacher in the photo is Professor Ho Minh Quang, Head of the Faculty of Eastern Studies at The University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, where he teaches Sino-Vietnamese characters as well as the cultures and histories of Asian countries such as China, Japan, and India. 

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Image adapted from: Anh Stela

According to the source, even though ao dai is not the university’s compulsory dress code, Professor Quang wears ao dai to work on a daily basis to preserve traditional culture.

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Image adapted from: Anh Stela

As if a man wearing ao dai is not impressive enough, Professor Quang completes his fashion statement with a silk headband, wooden slippers, and a paper fan for a full-on traditional get-up.

Vietnamese teacher wear ao daiProfessor Quang sharing the stage with the Ambassador of Thailand at an educational event
Image adapted from: Khoa Đông Phương học – Trường ĐH Khoa học Xã hội và Nhân văn TP.HCM

Netizens are impressed with his unique work wear

The photo of Professor Quang in ao dai quickly garnered attention from local netizens, earning over 21,000 likes at the time of writing and over 800 comments praising his unique sense of fashion.

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Image adapted from: Cháo Hành Miễn Phí 

“Wow. He looks so cool.” Facebook user Phan Kim Thanh commented. 

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Image adapted from: Cháo Hành Miễn Phí 

Facebook user Minh Châu commented on the post, “I had the chance to meet and talk with him. He’s very cute. Because he’s in charge of researching and teaching Vietnamese history, he’s very passionate about Vietnamese traditional garments and always wears ao dai to work.”

Vietnamese male students discuss the idea of wearing ao dai to school

While a number of men across the country endorse the idea of wearing ao dai, many falter at the idea, especially high school students who must follow their schools’ dress codes.

Actress Kim Xuan
Actress Kim Xuan raised the unique suggestion during a meeting with Marie Curie High School students
Image credit: Kim Xuan Chau

In a recent statement that soon went viral, local actress Kim Xuan suggested educational authorities to consider having Vietnamese male students wear ao dai to school.

She proposed having male students wear ao dai to school every Monday while attending their weekly flag-raising ceremony. While her suggestion was well-meant, it has sparked heated debates among male students and parents.

Vietnamese teacher wear ao dai
Vietnamese teacher and students during the French colonial time
Image credit: Chương Trình IPL

While some are excited to see the revival of tradition since ao dai was Vietnamese male students’ nationwide uniform a century ago, many have expressed concern. 

Vietnamese school girls in ao dai
Ao dai has long been synonymous with girly fashion and feminine looks
Image adapted from: Báo Khánh Hòa

With the overwhelming popularity of Western daily wear in Vietnamese schools, persuading male students to switch to ao dai will be a daunting task. Even though ao dai was historically worn by men and women, it has taken on feminine connotations that not every man might be keen on, and can be impractical for all genders during hot weather. 

Vietnamese teacher wears ao dai to work everyday

Professor Quang is a shining example to his students about representing our culture through the simple decisions we make in everyday life, such as fashion. He could have chosen more convenient and popular Western-style clothing to wear to class, but he chose the elegant ao dai that’s made him a respected cultural ambassador instead. 

Besides special events such as Tet, we can all try to don an ao dai on more everyday occasions to represent our cultural heritage and identity.

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Cover image adapted from: Anh Stela and Anh Stela

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