While you might think Thai traditional dress is something only worn by Thai women for weddings or for tourist-related arts or cultural performances, that’s not true at all.
In fact, Thai traditional dress is worn in Thailand for many occasions — from weddings to family celebrations, from evening wear to dance and art performances and many other occasions in between.
Of course, in the 21st century, Thai traditional dress must also appear to be somewhat fashionable and modern, so that young modern Thai women will wear it.
That is why some of the country’s top designers have been ‘modernizing’ Thai traditional dress slightly, by using new fabrics, unusual colors and, of course, a slight adaptation of the traditional style.
What we as westerners know as Thai traditional dress or Thai national dress can actually be traced to Thailand’s current queen, Queen Sirikit, who in the 1960s had several designers, scholars and historians work together to create a variety of historically-accurate styles that were then worn by her when she traveled around the world with her husband, King Bhumipol Adulyadej or when meeting foreign dignitaries in Thailand.
This formal attire was so loved by Thai women, because Queen Sirikit looked so beautiful wearing it, that the styles were officially adopted by them.
Nowadays you will still see the Thai Reun Ton, the Thai Amarin style and all the other styles created back then at formal functions all over Thailand and beyond, and they’re worn by Thai women of all ages.
For a quick idea of some of the styles of Thai traditional dress, watch this gorgeous video from Penwhipa Wedding featuring popular, and very beautiful, Thai actress Yaya Urassaya.
If you are interested in wearing Thai traditional dress, you can get one made to measure at just about any tailor’s shop or dress makers in Thailand. They will even explain which style is worn for which particular occasion.