Vietnam fashion in the 1980s

By Y Ly   December 16, 2016 | 02:08 am PT
Only rich kids could afford to break from the minimalist style that dominated in the post-war era

Life in Vietnam during the 1980s was known as Thoi bao cap, the Subsidy Period, which came after the country gained liberation in 1975. Basic necessities were all in very short supply and only available using government ration cards and stamps.

In the wake of the war, fashion was certainly not a priority for most Vietnamese folks, whose minds were occupied by daily necessities like rice, meat and condensed milk.


Fashion designer Vu Viet Ha said that before 1986, the notion of fashion was very blurred in Vietnam.  The most common outfit for both men and women was a loose shirt and baggy pants.


Black and white were the two main colors. In the picture are northern women wearing casual clothes in 1976.


The middle and upper classes had more choices with light orange and brown tones. Fabrics with floral patterns, lace and polka dots were used instead of plain material.


In 1982, a new craze inspired by foreign music bands in the 1970s, swept over the northern region: T-shirts and baggy jeans. At that time, only well-off families could afford these trendy items.


When the winter arrived, the berets came out to compliment the cotton jackets.


Most of the winter clothes were made by local textile companies or traditional villages.


In terms of footwear, there was nothing more than wooden shoes and sandals. 


Fashion designer Vu Viet Ha said that costumes from the south seemed to be more stylish and modern than in the north. Apart from loose shirts and baggy pants, girls from wealthy families could pick up shirts with lotus collars or vintage dresses matched with watches and pearl necklaces.


One of the typical outfits among southern women was a silk shirt, black silk trousers and a conical hat.


A woman watering flowers on Nguyen Hue Street, Saigon in 1984.


Wedding outfits were fairly limited: the traditional ao dai for women and black suits for men. From 1984, brides from wealthier families started to opt for A-Line wedding dresses made of satin.


Affected by fashion trends from other countries, women often favored one-piece swimsuits.


Popular hairstyles were naturally long hair for northern women and curly or wavy for southern women.


A hair salon on Dong Khoi Street, Saigon in 1983.

Photos courtesy of Michel Blanchard and others 

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