Classic Thai costumes


The Lanna area or the northern part of Thailand is rich in culture and this can be glimpsed in their way of dressing. Lanna, which is home to numerous ethnic group produce a wide array of cotton and silk textiles. Each ethnic group weaves distinctive patterns for regular as well as for ceremonial attires. One of the most outstanding is “Phaa Sin” (tube skirt) which is produced by the “Thai-Yuan”, the largest ethnic group that has originally settled in Lanna. Phaa Sin is the traditional lower garment worn by women of various ethnic groups. It consists of three sections- Hua Sin (head or top), Tua Sin (body or midsection), and Teen Sin (foot or border). The three sections of the Phaa Sin are either woven into one piece of clothing with differing patterns in the three sections or are made of two or more pieces of clothes sewn together. Aristocratic ladies usually wore the Phaa Sin, which is a simple garment, one meter long, gathered and folded at the waistline, then secured with a belt. This was then combined with a Sabai, a long piece of plain pleated or pattern silk about 30 centimeters wide that was worn above the waist and draped across the chest, falling casually over the left shoulder. This kind of garment has become the unique identity of the Thai-Yuan ethnic group. Phaa Sin comes in many forms and style that makes it suitable for different occasions. The court ladies in the royal compound of the Queen Chao Dara Rassamee of Chiang Mai during the reign of the King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) of the Chakkri Dynasty were fond of wearing the Phaa Sin. Here are some of its variations:

Thai Chakkri
Thai Chakkri is a formal and elegant wear, made by applying the “Yok” weaving technique. Yok creates additional thickness within the fabric without adding supplementary threads. Often a touch of gold or silver colored threads are added in order to make the fabric look more expensive. The costume is finished with “Phaa Sin” a full length wrap-around skirt with two pleated folds in the front, called “Na Nang”.

Thai Boromphiman
Thai Boromphiman, a formal evening attire, is comprised of a long-sleeved blouse which is either buttoned at the front or at the back. The blouse is tucked beneath Phaa Sin with its front pleats. The fabric is brocaded to create a luxurious look and feeling. The collar of the blouse is round-necked. The skirt’s length runs around the ankle. The skirt and blouse are sewen together like one piece of dress, the style of which is suitable to a tall and slender wearer. It can be worn in either formal or semi-formal occasions such as the royal functions. Decorations are usually worn as highlight.

Thai Sivalai
Thai Sivalai, a formal evening dress, is quite similar to Thai Boromphiman, but it has an over-theshoulder shawl. It is normally worn during royal ceremonies for formal functions.

Thai Dusit Thai Dusit is a wide-necked and sleeveless brocaded dress. The skirt and blouse can be sewn together. It can be worn during the evening in lieu of western-style dress. The Yok silk fabric is normally used. Either Thai or western accessories can be worn.

Thai Chakkraphat Thai Chakkraphat is a Thai dress with a shawl like Thai Chakkri. However, it is more conservative and considered for more official gatherings. The upper part has a pleated shawl covering a thicker shawl with full embroidery.

Thai Amarindra Thai Amarindra is an evening attire made of brocaded fabric and has not need of a belt. The blouse can be wide and round-necked. The sleeve length sits just below the elbow. The beauty of this dress is its textile and accessories. Usually used for an evening dinner or at the royal birthday procession.

Thai Chitlada Thai Chitlada is a daytime ceremonial dress. It can be worn with a long-sleeved silk blouse. Considered an informal attire, it can be worn to welcome royal guests at the airport. There is no need to add any royal decorations although the color and style should be appropriate.

Thai Ruen Ton Thai Ruen Ton is the most casual of all the styles. It comprises a horizontally or vertically striped silk pr plain-colored Phaa Sin with a patterned band at the helm. The collarless blouse that goes with it is separated from the ankle length skirt. It is suitable for casual and unofficial functions such as Kathin Ton, the religious ceremony of conferring.