Lao people wear a style of costume that is quite sparkling, colourful and diverse, and a pleasure to see on the Laos holidays. The traditional clothing is created with the help of the skilful techniques of embroidering and weaving used by the Lao women. Costume design also takes inspiration from the mythological and the natural world.
The diversity of the traditional Lao costumes varies with the different ethnics and regions, while also taking a certain degree of influence from their family and clan. For instance, the Blue Hmong women are likely to wear an outfit that consists of a black jacket with orange and yellow embroidery, while the Yao women favour the black jacket at a longer length and with red lapels. Also, the original costumes took a lot of inspiration from neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, as well as the past French occupation.
Many of the costumes are carefully created using distinct embroidery patterns and colours with materials like yarn and silk. According to the local Lao traditions, the preferred costume for the women is to dress stylishly in a skirt, blouse and scarf, while the men favour a shirt and peasant pants.
Virtually all of the minority ethnic groups throughout the country will design and wear a style of dress that is unique to their particular people.
Lao costumes for women
The type of clothing likely to be worn and seen on the Laos private tour is different in relation to the gender and age. Based on local Lao values and belief, the women are seen as mothers of the nation; this means they are expected to dress up presentable. Typical dress of the women includes a silk skirt (locally known as a Sinh), blouses, and scarves, while the hair is placed in a coil when attending traditional or important ceremonies.
The Sinh is seen as a traditional article of clothing and worn by the local Lao women. It is styled much like a tube skirt and manufactured in materials like cotton or silk. Also, the style of this garment makes it possible to wear in a variety of different ways. The Sinh can vary in its appearance to match the specific occasion as well as the local beliefs, social relationships and culture of the region and community.
The sinh outfit consists of 3 major parts: Phuen sinh, Hua sinh and Tin sinh
Phuen sinh – the Phuen sinh is the major component of the outfit and makes up the body part that is styled in two colours.
Hua sinh – the Hua sinh is usually tucked in and not seen because it is the waistband part.
Tin sinh – the sinh is the lower part of the outfit and makes up the hem. This area of the dress is richly detailed with intricate designs and details using embroidery
The Lao Sinh is created with a variety of designs and is easily made to match a specific event with the style reflecting the beliefs, social relationships and culture of a person’s local region and community.
Other costumes include the Suea pat which is a type of long-sleeved shirt that is designed without any buttons. This shirt is worn by wrapping the fabric in the correct position and using strings to tie the different panels together. A further option is the Pha Biang which is much-like a shawl-like garment and is wearable by both the male or female. It is typically made of silk and this long and wide piece of material is draped across the chest diagonally with one end passed over the shoulder and down the back.
Lao costumes for men
Different from the Lao sinh, the men favour the salong and are likely to be seen as the traditional costume when visiting the country on the Laos tour packages. This type of costume resembles the peasant pants and worn with a shirt. The salong is the preferred item for the important ceremonies or events, and can be accompanied with a pha biang (checkered shawl) and knee-length white socks.
The big pants that are worn are mostly in the Khmer style and traditionally the shirt has a Mandarin collar or is one of the Indochinese shirts.
The local women living in the villages are on the whole skilled at weaving. The weaving skills are passed from generation to generation with mothers instructing their daughters and nieces are a very young age. With the more proficient weaving abilities, the latest costumes are much more distinctive compared to the past when the men and women dressed quite similar with shirts and pants that had limited decorative features and no colours.
A lot of time and effort is put into creating the traditional costumes, especially for the wrap-around skirts (sinh) and salongs that are hand-made using a heavy plied silk for the various parts. Many of these are designed with delicate embroidery that is colourful and bright and certain to fascinate the gaze of the travellers on the Laos tours.
Today, there is plenty of local hill tribes; such as the Hmong that can be seen on the Laos travel who create their own traditional wear. The Black Hmong can appear quite distinct with their deep-indigo dyed clothing that consists of leg wraps, apron, sash and a jacket with embellished sleeves. Also, there is the flower Hmong with the bright costume that includes a varied range of gorgeous colours. Outfits are also finished with head wraps of colourful tartan or a beaded fringe trim that is placed around the chest or shoulder area.
A finishing touch for many of the costumes created for the different ethnic groups is to include decorative features like silver coins, embroidery, appliqué, or sequins. Most of the patterns used are created and woven exclusively to match the needs of the specific ethnic group.
Overall, a visit to a unique and interesting destination like Laos makes it possible for the tourists to really appreciate the beautiful clothes that are worn in the different regions throughout the country.