Yếm

Yếm refers to an ancient Vietnamese bodice used primarily as an undergarment that was once worn by Vietnamese women across all classes. There exists a modern variant called "áo yếm", but the historical garment was simply called "yếm".

It is a simple garment with many variations from its basic form, which is a simple, usually diamond or square-cut piece of cloth draped over a woman's chest with strings to tie at the neck and back.

History

No one is sure of its origins, although a similar garment called tù dōu (Chinese: ) also existed in ancient China. The "yếm" has always been an essential part of the "áo tứ thân" costume worn by northern Vietnamese women. Unlike other Vietnamese clothing that helped to segregate the classes, "yếm" were worn as an undergarment by Vietnamese women of all walks of life, from peasant women toiling in the fields to imperial consorts.

Different types

While it was worn across classes, the material and colors used to make yếm varied widely based upon the person's rank and the occasion. Commoner women usually wore yếm in simple blacks and whites for day to day use, whereas during special occasions they could opt for more festive, brighter colors such as red and pink. Indeed, much of Vietnamese poetry has been dedicated to the beauty of women in their "yếm đào", or pink bodices.

While the bottom of the yếm are v-shaped, there were different styles for the top of the garment which covered the neck, the most common two variations being the rounded neck or the v-shaped neck style.

Some types of yếm have a little pocket within, where women often used to store a little musk or perfume.

In modern Vietnam

As westernization inevitably reached Vietnam, by the 20th century women increasingly abandoned the yếm for the western bra.

Fashion designers, in their constant quest to revitalize interest in traditional costumes as well as reinvent the latter have created many new collections of yếm. The modernized form of the garment is slightly different and is called "áo yếm" rather than simply "yếm", the latter referring to the historical garment. Áo yếm has proven to be quite popular with young women, perhaps due to its similarity to the western halter top.

ee also

*Áo dài
*Áo tứ thân
*Áo bà ba
*Vietnamese clothing
*Culture of Vietnam
*History of Vietnam

External links

* [http://www.vietnam-culture.com/articles-102-10/Ao-yem-and-its-history.aspx History]
* [http://www.vietnamjournal.org/article.php?sid=138 Vietnamese Traditional Costumes and Fashion]
* [http://www.quehuong.org.vn/vi/nr050307131435/nr050307110202/nr050307152729/ns051208140218]


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