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Classical Ladies' Fashion Design and The Society Changing (9): Thai Lan Na

Updated on March 11, 2014

Thailand has over 30 ethnic groups, and thus has various traditional costumes. The most representative and popular female traditional costume is the tubeskirt and short, sleeveless bodice or shirt with a long sabi across the shoulder in the left. The name is Lan Na, and the whole design shows the heavy feeling of a tropical country and a holy place of Buddhism.

The tubeskirt started to be popular in the Dynasty of Ramah Sixth (1910-1925). It is actually a piece of cloth stitched both ends together with broad brims. Originally, it was worn by folding together with hands: first put on the tube, then use right hand to pull the cloth to the right side, then the left hand press the cloth against the waist tightly, and the right hand pull the cloth to the other side, then fold it into the skirt at the waist. Or make it backward. Nowadays, the skirt is made in the form of ready to wear and elegant with ornamental belt.

Thailand Buddha
Thailand Buddha | Source

The top part of the traditional costume is generally a short shirt or a tight bodice. The shirt is commonly in the same cloth material and the same or matched color with the tube skirt. They join together at the waist. The most obvious speciaty of the shirt is that it has only one sash on the left shoulder in general, and a long ornamental cord from the back across under the arm in the right and the top shoulder in the left falling down on the ground, which is called sabi. The one-sash shirt and the sabi are actually evolved from the clothes in Thai Buddhism. Nowadays, sabi is sometimes fixed at front chest or on the shoulder, hanging or floating in the back, as a decoration. The top part can also be a tight sashless bodice, only covering the middle breast area, a simple dress fitted with the tropical climate. Besides, Thailand society has been influenced greatly by western cultures since the late 19th century when Bankok dynasty carried out westernalized reform. In the early last century, British and France made it be a buffer country between Burmur and India, for which Thailand became the only country in south-east Asia that was not colonized by western nations. During the second world war, Thailand used to be occupied by Japan. Therefore, this currently popular dress is also branded with western style, i.e. women often wear classical shirt in western style to go with the tubeskirt, especially those classical shirt with lace, embroidery, or flouncing, etc. When Thai women wear Lan Na, they usually lift hair up, and colorful and showy jewelries are necessary, including hair pins, earrings, necklace, arm decorations, bracelets, and even a tiara, which make beautiful Thai women more brilliant.


The material of Lan Na can be various, such as satin and cotton, but Thai silk is the most popular. Traditional Thai silk is hand-woven produced from cocoons of Thai silkworms, and considered as one of the finest fabrics in the world. Thai silk has vibrant lustre with a sheen of two color blends: one is for the warp and another one for the weft. If you hold a piece of such a silky cloth at varying angles against light, you will observe color changes. The unique lustre together with those unique decorations especially reveal the charm and enchantment of Thai women, while the simply slim general design show delicacy and grace of oriental ladies.

Thai Lan Na is beautiful and elegant, showy but decent. Like Indian saree, it reflects a special feeling of ethics in Buddhism. In reality, it is a fruit of the integration of climate, culture and belief. Lan Na has relatively short history of development, and so has considerable taste of modern fashion. Even so, however, it can be rarely seen in present life with westernization sweeping across the whole world, but as formal dress in special occasions.


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    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 5 years ago

      Yeah, I feel in the same way. Thank you, Parker.

    • JSParker profile image

      JSParker 5 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      What gorgeous dresses! Very interesting hub. I voted "beautiful".

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 5 years ago

      Thank you for the comment, Freya. They are all beautiful dress.

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 5 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      This is very lovely hub indeed. I see the similarity between Thailand and Indonesian culture in traditional Fashion design. They are very beautiful.

      Thank you, Hui.

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 5 years ago

      Thank you for reading it, vocalcoach. Really my pleasure that you love it.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      This is a lovely hub. I enjoyed it so much. Very good writing and interesting to read. Voted up! Have a great day.