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Thai dresses at Erawan National Park | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
Thai dresses at Erawan National Park | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

A Brief History of Chut Thai, Thailand's Traditional Dress

Picture of Kelly Iverson
Updated: 16 February 2017

When travelers envision the Land of Smiles, many of them unknowingly picture Chut Thai: Thailand‘s official national dress. Here’s a brief history of this stunning attire.

Thailand did not always have a traditional costume. In 1960, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was traveling through parts of Europe, as well as the United States. Queen Sirikit, who was accompanying the monarch on state visits, decided Thailand needed a formal outfit suitable for these meetings and gatherings around the world. There was just one problem: no one had established one yet. Shortly afterward, she worked to come up with different designs. The country finally established its traditional dress in 1964, which came to be called Chut Thai (Thai dress or outfit).


Chut Thai, the traditional dress of Thailand | © ken shirakawa/Flickr

Types of Chut Thai

There are eight different types of Chut Thai outfit for women and three for men, known as phraratchathan. One of the most stunning designs is Chut Thai Chitlada – a single-colored, long-sleeve jacket that buttons to one side, paired with a full-length skirt of a similar or matching hue.


Thai dancers in national dress | © Courtesy of Pixabay

The other styles for women are Chut Thai Amarin, Boromphiman, Dusit, Chakkraphat, Chakkri, Siwalai, and Ruean Ton. Though the designs may have similar make-ups, each one is different to the last. Some are paired with shawls, ornaments, and patterned fabric, while others are accompanied by statement jewelry or large headpieces.


Thai dresses at Pratunam Market | © Kelly Iverson

Chut Thai today

Visitors to Thailand will be lucky if they see someone wearing the national dress. Each design is worn for different reasons and special occasions, from wedding ceremonies to royal functions and national celebrations. The costume may be worn at upscale salons and massage parlors, as well as certain restaurants, especially those serving high-end Thai cuisine. Some stunning examples can be found at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.


Vibrant colours and rich textures | © Kelly Iverson