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Thai traditional costumes, Bangkok National Museum

Traditional Thai clothing is called chut thai (Thai: ชุดไทย), which literally means 'Thai outfit'. It can be worn by men, women, and children. Chut thai for women usually consists of a pha nung or a chong kraben, a blouse, and a sabai. Northern and northeastern women may wear a sin instead of a pha nung and a chong kraben with either a blouse or a suea pat. Chut thai for men includes a chong kraben or pants, a Raj pattern shirt, with optional knee-length white socks and a sabai. Chut thai for northern Thai men is composed of a sado, a white Manchu-styled jacket, and sometimes a khian hua. In formal occasions, people may choose to wear a so-called formal Thai national costume.


See also: History of Thai clothing

Portrait of Siamese State Official, one of portrait paintings collection in The Portraits of Periodical Offering of Imperial Qing by Xie Sui, 18th century painting in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
Du Royaume de Siam by Simon de La Loubère shows a Siamese official wearing lombok and chong kraben and a traditional Thai house

Historically, both Thai males and females dressed themselves with a loincloth wrap called chong kraben.[1]: Note 10  Men wore their chong kraben to cover the waist to halfway down the thigh, whilst women wore their chong kraben down the waist to well below the knee.[2] Members of the nobility wore silk robes called khrui and a tall, pointed hat called lomphok in attendance of royal affairs. Bare chests and bare feet were accepted as part of the Thai formal dress code, and are observed in murals, illustrated manuscripts, and early photographs up to the middle–1800s.[2] Prior to the 20th century, the primary markers that distinguished class in Thai clothing were the use of cotton and silk cloths with printed or woven motifs, but both commoners and royals alike wore wrapped, not stitched clothing.[3] Traditional Thai attire changed significantly during the Rattanakosin period.[citation needed]

Prior to the 1700s, Thai men and women both kept their hair long. However, following the Burmese–Siamese wars of 1759-1760 and 1765–1767 and repeated Burmese invasions into Ayutthaya, central Thai women began cutting their hair in a crew-cut short style, which remained the national hairstyle until the 1900s.[4]

From the 1860s onward, Thai royals "selectively adopted Victorian corporeal and sartorial etiquette to fashion modern personas that were publicized domestically and internationally by means of mechanically reproduced images."[3] Stitched clothing, including court attire and ceremonial uniforms, were invented during the reign of King Chulalongkorn.[3] Western forms of dress became popular among urbanites in Bangkok during this period.[3] During the early–1900s, King Chulalongkorn encouraged Thai women to wear long hair instead of traditional short hair which later became a trend during the reign of King Vajiravudh along with wearing pha sin (ผ้าซิ่น), a tubular skirt, instead of the chong kraben (โจงกระเบน), a cloth wrap.[5]

On 15 January 1941, Plaek Pibulsonggram issued a Thai cultural mandate to modernize and Westernize Thai dress, by deeming the long-practiced customs of wearing underpants, wearing no shirt, or wearing a wraparound cloth, as forms of inappropriate public attire.[6]

Traditional costumes

Chong kraben

Main article: Sompot Chong Kben

Chong kraben or Sompot Chong Kben (Thai: โจงกระเบน Thai pronunciation: [tɕoːŋ.kra.beːn]) is a lower-body, wraparound cloth. It is synonymous with the Khmer sampot. The sampot is a long, rectangular cloth worn around the lower body. The traditional dress is similar to the dhoti of South Asia. The chong kraben resembles pants more than skirts. It is a rectangular piece of cloth measuring three meters long and one meter wide. It is worn by wrapping around the waist, stretching it away from the body, twisting the ends together then pulling the twisted fabric between the legs and tucking it in the back of the waist.

Pha nung

Main article: pha nung

Thai women wearing pha sin dress for Rocket Festival, Roi Et

The pha nung (Thai: ผ้านุ่ง), also known as pha sin (Thai: ผ้าซิ่น) or pha thung (Thai: ผ้าถุง), is a long fabric worn around the waist that resembles a long skirt.[7] [8]

Thai girls wearing northern Thai pha sin


Main article: Sabai

Thai women wearing sabai, Jim Thompson House

Sabai (Thai: สไบ Thai pronunciation: [sa.baj]) or pha biang (Thai: ผ้าเบี่ยง Thai pronunciation: [pʰâː.bìaŋ]) is shawl-like garment, or breast cloth. Sabai can be used by women or men. The sabai is also known as a long piece of silk, about a foot wide, draped diagonally around the chest by covering one shoulder which its end drops behind the back. Sabai could be worn around the naked chest or on top of another cloth. The practice of wearing sabai along with Victorian clothing was a common practice during the reign of King Chulalongkorn and lasted until the reign of King Vajiravudh when Westernized clothing became more fashionable. The wearing of sabai as daily wear was officially banned by Plaek Pibulsonggram during Thailand's clothing reform.

Suea pat

Main article: Suea pat

Suea pat (Thai: เสื้อปัด Thai pronunciation: [sɯ̂a.pàt]) is a long-sleeved shirt with no buttons. It is worn by wrapping the right side of the front panel of the shirt over the left side of the front panel, and the two panels are tied together via strings. Suea pats are typically worn by northern Thai women

Raj pattern

Main article: Raj pattern

King Chulalongkorn wearing the raj pattern costume, consisting of a white Nehru-style jacket with five buttons and a chong kraben.

Raj pattern refers either to a Thai men's costume consisting of a white Nehru-style jacket with five buttons, a chong kraben, knee-length socks, and dress shoes (Thai: ชุดราชปะแตน, RTGSchut ratpataen) , or to the specific form of the jacket itself (Thai: ราชปะแตน, RTGSratpataen). It was worn chiefly during the late-19th and early-20th centuries by government officials and the upper class in Bangkok, and nowadays is used in select circumstances as a national costume.

Pha khao ma

Pha khao ma (Thai: ผ้าขาวม้า Thai pronunciation: [pʰâː kʰǎw máː])) is a versatile plaid fabric woven for centuries in Thailand. It serves numerous purposes, including being worn as a waistband by Thai men, used as a handkerchief, fan, or head covering to protect against the sun, and even used as a makeshift cradle or to carry goods. The cloth's practicality and sustainability have attracted the attention of designers in the fashion and interior design industries.[9] The word Khao ma is derived from the Persian word Kamarband, meaning waistband or belt.[10] This cloth has become an omnipresent item in Thai society. Its recognition as a national cultural heritage in Thailand and nomination for UNESCO World Heritage status in 2027.[11]


Tabengman (Thai: ตะเบงมาน Thai pronunciation: [tá.bēng.māːn]) is a traditional Thai cloth that originated during the late Ayutthaya period. It consists of a piece of cloth that covers the chest and is tied behind the neck.[12] It remains an important part of Thailand's cultural heritage and history, and continues to inspire contemporary fashion designers and artists. It has been featured in national and international events,[13] and the clothing worn by the main character in the 2021 Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon, which is inspired by traditional Southeast Asian cloth including Tabengman.[14]


Banong (Thai: บานง Thai pronunciation: [bāː.nōŋ]) is a type of blouse traditionally worn by women in the southern border provinces of Thailand, including Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat.[15] It has a collar and is cut in front, with a folded placket all the way to the hem. The fabric used to make Banong is often thin and sheer, and may be embroidered with patterns on the hem. It is typically worn during religious and cultural events like weddings, funerals, and dance performances. The name Banong comes from the word Bandung in Middle Malay, which refers to a city in the west of Java Island, Indonesia. While Banong is popular among Thai Muslims in the southern border provinces, it is also worn by Thai Buddhists and Thai Chinese in the region.[16][17]

Formal costume

Main article: Formal Thai national costume

This is an example of the formal Thai national costume.

The formal Thai costume, ชุดไทยพระราชนิยม (RTGSchut thai phra ratcha niyom, literally, 'Thai dress of royal endorsement'), includes several sets of dress, designed as the Thai national costume at formal occasions. Although described and intended for use as national costume, it is of relatively modern origins, having been conceived in the second half of the 20th century.

See also


  1. ^ Singhalampong, Eksuda (March 2019). "Picturing Femininity: Portraits of the Early Modern Siamese Women". Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia. 3 (1): 49–75. doi:10.1353/sen.2019.0003. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b Terwiel, Barend Jan (2007). "The Body and Sexuality in Siam: A First Exploration in Early Sources" (PDF). Manusya: Journal of Humanities. 10 (14): 42–55. doi:10.1163/26659077-01004003.
  3. ^ a b c d Peleggi, Maurizio (2010). Mina Roces (ed.). The Politics of Dress in Asia and the Americas. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 9781845193997.
  4. ^ Jotisalikorn, Chami (2013). Thailand's Luxury Spas: Pampering Yourself in Paradise. Tuttle Publishing. p. 183.
  5. ^ Saruta (10 September 2002). "Women's Status in Thai Society". Thaiways Magazine. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  6. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 58, Page 113. January 21, B.E. 2484 (C.E. 1941). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  7. ^ James C. Ingram. Economic change in Thailand 1850-1970. Stanford University Press, 1971, p. 10 By
  8. ^ Thepthong, Phitsanu (17 February 2020). "Pushing 'phasin' to the fore". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  9. ^ Multi-Purpose of Thai Loincloth "Pha-Khao-Ma" (PDF), October 31, 2017
  10. ^ Pha Khao Ma, the Multi-Purpose Loincloth, December 22, 2015
  11. ^ Pha Khao Ma: The checkered cloth woven into Thai culture, March 10, 2023
  12. ^ Saharat Techanubal (2018), THAILAND FASHION CENTER (PDF) (in Thai), p. 14
  13. ^ "นิโคลีน" นุ่งโจงห่มตะเบงมาน โชว์ความฮึกเหิมก่อนบินประกวด "มิสเวิลด์ 2018" (in Thai), November 2, 2018
  14. ^ The Rise of Ethnic Minorities in Films, August 15, 2022
  15. ^ Banong บานง อัตลักษณ์ความเป็นพื้นถิ่นในวิถีมลายูสู่วิถีแบรนด์บานงจังหวัดยะลา (in Thai), September 2, 2022
  16. ^ "บานง" เครื่องแต่งกายของสตรีไทยมุสลิมชายแดนใต้ (in Thai), retrieved March 30, 2023
  17. ^ การแต่งกายสตรีภาคใต้ชายแดน บานง (PDF) (in Thai), retrieved March 30, 2023

Further reading