Traditional Laotian clothing arose centuries ago and spread through the major ethnic groups, specifically the Lao and Hmong. Colourful patterns and bright colours remain popular for traditional clothing styles, though modern, Western-style dress now dominates everyday city life in Laos.
Men in Laos traditionally wore simple trousers, shirts and vests. The Chinese-style shirt with large sleeves and buttons is typical among traditional Laotians. Also, a brightly coloured band or sash at the waist is popular for both men and women.
Both traditional Lao and Hmong outfits emphasise bright pink, yellow or blue colours. Lao dress tends to be more form-fitting, with a sarong and top, and emphasises elaborate, embroidered designs. In contrast, Hmong dress includes patterns of dangling beads on skirts, long-sleeved tops and broad, round hats.
Laos is also known for its silver jewellery. Broad, woven cuffs remain a popular style among the Lao, while the Hmong favour elaborate, woven necklaces in the shape of an inverted pyramid as well as large, dangling earrings.
Traditional to Modern
With Western influences and factory production, most Laotians wear Western-style clothes for daily professional and private life. Nevertheless, traditional Laotian clothing remains common for special occasions such as weddings and Lao New Year. In addition, many groups in remote communities, such as the Mien and Akha, tend to wear traditional clothing on a daily basis.