Mo Lee Shows Jacket Trim on a Hmong jacket Mo Lee Shows Panel Mo Lee's son in Hmong hat Pachee and Chrissy Pose in Hmong clothing Mo Lee Shows Panel Chrissy in Hmong clothing Mo Lee begins to put sash on Pachee Chrissy Lee in Hmong Hat Pachee Adjusts Hat

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Hmong Fashion Show

Back in Laos, the Hmong wore what we would think of as “fancy” clothes. Drawning of a Hmong woman's headdress, by JeremyThey wear them to eat, sleep, and even work. Today [in America], however, they only wear them at Hmong New Year’s. Traditional Hmong clothing has many intricate patterns and designs. It is very colorful. Back in Laos, women wrapped a three-yard long cloth around their heads like a turban. But today custom has changed, and [the hat] is already wrapped and glued. Usually women also wear a skirt and a sort of apron that goes over it. They also wear a shirt and a beaded vest.
–Izzy S.

Back in Laos, the Hmong wore traditional clothing every single day. In America, the Hmong only wear it for special occasions like funerals and the New Year. Traditional clothes are very colorful and bright. The boys’ clothes include: a hta with a coin in the tassel, bright vests and pants with coins, too. The women’s clothes are basically the same except they wear skirts, bright headdresses, and NO coins.

Traditional Hmong clothing goes a lot farther than a suit and tie, or a kilt. It is mostly about needlework, and it is made very well. The boys’ clothing is mostly pants with decoration; some even have coins sewn on. The coins show how rich you are. The pants are normally silky and look really comfortable. They range in color from black to pink and orange. Normally, the shirt matches the pants. Hats are small like a yarmulke with lots of decorative designs.

Girls wear silky pants, or a decorative skirt with a sort of apron over it. They also wear long shirts and decorative wrapped hats.

At the United Hmong Community Center our class saw lots of Hmong people wearing Hmong clothes. There are many kinds of traditional clothes, because there are many kinds of Hmong people. Each group has different clothes and its own way of wearing them.

At the Hmong American Association there was a shop that sold traditional clothing for all types of Hmong—striped, flower, Chinese, White, Black, Green, and Blue Hmong. There are different special clothes for men and women. Nico tried on a girl’s hat, but he didn’t know it was for girls!

Boy and girl clothing have different designs, so if an American boy accidentally tried on a girl’s clothes, the Hmong would laugh...

One of my favorite things to see (and put on) was Hmong traditional clothing. When I wear them, I feel more Hmong than American. You should try them!

It was a Hmong Fashion Show.... When I put on a colorful beaded suit and a turban...I felt Hmong.

Drawing of a traditional Hmong costume, by Sarah M.We were given a presentation on Hmong clothes. A woman named Mo Lee dressed her son, her daughter, and another Hmong girl and dressed them up in beautiful Hmong clothing. She put a circular embroidered hat on her son. He said he was hot in it. Next she put a Green Hmong skirt on her daughter. The top of the skirt was white, and on the bottom were designs with people, like a story cloth. Then she put a hat on her daughter. The hat was like a crown, except that in the back there was an opening that closed with velcro. Pink pom poms ran down it. This is only one of many different kinds of girls’ hats. After that, she dressed another girl in White Hmong clothing, which included black pants with a beautiful bright green sash. The pants had shiny spots on them. The girl wore a round purple hat.
–Izzy L.

Mo Lee got out a bunch of traditional clothes. She showed us the steps of putting them on, using her two eldest daughters. They said afterwards that they wouldn’t like to wear [those clothes] all the time, because they were heavy and hot. They said American clothes are light and comfortable.

Traditional Hmong clothing is very pretty, but all the Hmong I’ve seen wearing it say it is very heavy. Most of the fancy Hmong clothes for dancing have large coins on them, so whenever people move they make jingling sounds.

Moms have to make new traditional clothes for [each] New Year, because [their children] get bigger and bigger.

[The Hmong say] that if girls don’t have a lot of nice clothes when they go to the Hmong festivals, it means that their mother is lazy...

Each piece of the exquisite pandau has a name. My favorite is called a xe, pronounced "shay.” It’s like a very thin apron, only much prettier. Xe’s are mostly for women.

Each Hmong group has a different kind of traditional clothing. Some of them wrap a headdress around their heads, others put on hats. Hmong traditional clothing usually has beads and coins on it. On the back of the jacket there’s a rectangle if you are a girl. It’s very easy to tell the difference between a boy’s bottom and a girl’s bottom—the boys wear pants and the girls wear skirts. Some girls wear pants, but they have two aprons, one in back and one in front. If you have a skirt you only wear one apron in front. One way to tell if a Hmong is a boy or girl is to look at their waist. If the tie is in the front, it’s a boy. If it’s in the back, it’s a girl.
–Sara K.

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