The Thai national or traditional dress is called Chut Thai phra ratcha niyom ชุดไทยพระราชนิยม in Thai which means ‘Thai dress of royal endorsement’. This kind of dress (chut Thai) is commonly worn on formal occasions as national costume.
Today we can distinguish between eight different styles of Thai national dresses.
They are said to have originated in the mid-20th century. In fact, when Queen Sirikit accompanied the King in state visits to Western countries in 1960, she realised the need for a modern Thai national costume.
Thus, Queen Sirikit had research conducted concerning historical records of royal dresses.
Consequently, eight official designs were developed and also promoted by Queen Sirikit herself.
I will focus on traditional Thai dresses for women, but of course there is also Thai national attire for men.
Chut Thai Chakkri
Chut Thai Chakkri is a very formal and elegant dress. This kind of garment is usually produced by using the Yok weaving technique.
A special feature of the Yok weaving method is that it creates additional thickness within the fabrics without adding extra threads.
In the Thai Chakkri style the Pha-Sin, that is the Pha-Noong or skirt, is a full length wrap skirt. This skirt has two pleated folds in front which are called Na-Nang.
Chut Thai Boromphiman
Thai Boromphiman is also a formal evening attire, it can be worn at formal ceremonies and royal functions.
The Thai Boromphiman comprises a long-sleeved, round-necked, buttoned blouse which is tucked beneath the ankle length Pha-Noong skirt with its front pleats (Na-Nang).
The blouse and the skirt are sown together so that they form a one piece dress. The Thai Boromphiman is made of brocaded fabrics in order to create a very luxurious appearance.
Chut Thai Siwalai
The only difference between this dress and the first two is that the Thai Siwalai has a shawl draped over the long-sleeved blouse.
This shawl is also called sbai in Thai. Thai Siwalai is also worn in royal ceremonies and other formal occasions.
Chut Thai Chakkraphat
First of all, it is important to mention that Chakkraphat means emperor in Thai language.
Hence, Thai Chakkraphat is an official and conservative traditional Thai dress with a shawl similar to the Thai Chakkri.
Nevertheless, it appears even more put together because the shawl is thicker, richly embroidered and decorated with beautiful ornaments. It can be worn in royal or national ceremonies.
Chut Thai Chitlada
Thai Chitlada is a daytime ceremonial dress. Hence, it is worn on formal occasions such as welcoming royal guests at the airport.
The Thai Chitlada can be worn with a long sleeved buttoned silk blouse. The skirt (Pha-Noong) is a casual wrap skirt that has a brocaded band at the hem.
It is not necessary to wear royal decorations with this style. However, the colour of the dress should be appropriate for the respective occasion.
Chut Thai Ruean Ton
The Thai Ruean Ton is the most casual style of all eight traditional designs presented here.
It is most often worn at non-official functions. For example, the ceremony of the conferring of royal offerings to the monks (Khtin ton).
The Thai Ruean Ton comprises a collarless buttoned blouse and a striped or plain coloured skirt with a patterned band at the hem.
This is sometimes folded to one side. The Thai Ruean Ton is a two piece dress which means that the blouse and the skirt are separate.
Chut Thai Amarin
The Thai Amarin or Amarintra is a beautiful formal evening gown. It is made of brocaded fabric and ornaments. The blouse is usually round-necked and the skirt is ankle length.
With this style, royal decorations are worn. The Thai Amarin is a dress for an evening dinner or the Royal Birthday Procession.
Chut Thai Dusit
Thai Dusit is the most Western style of all eight traditional Thai dresses presented here.
It is a wide necked and sleeveless brocaded dress. The skirt and top are sown together so that they form a one piece dress.
The Thai Dusit can be worn for evening ceremonies in place of a Western style dress.
For this kind of dress, Yok silk fabric is used. The Thai Dusit can be either worn with Thai or Western style jewellery.
I really enjoyed researching about Thai traditional dresses and since I have not been to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok, this place is on my top priority list next time I have the chance to go there.
Finally, I’d like to close this article with a picture of little me in a traditional Thai dress. This is probably the casual Thai Ruean Ton style.