The women’s blouses are called butterfly blouses, which suggests a desire to be as beautiful as butterflies. In some localities, they consider the blouses festival clothing because they are so carefully made and embroidered.

Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh, who works at the Bac Giang provincial museum, said “The full costume of a Cao Lan woman includes a long blouse, a brassiere, and a maxi skirt. They protect their legs with leg guards made of brocaded cloth. Cao Lan women always wear a headscarf.”

In the past, Cao Lan women used a 2-m long cloth to cover their heads and hair buns, with the two ends of the scarf having down to their shoulders. The blouse stretches to their knees and has no buttons. It is closed by a waistband, whose red and green stripes stand out against their indigo blouse. The blouse has a white hem embroidered with traditional Cao Lan images.

Artisan Trac Thi Ngon of Luc Ngan district said “Embroidery takes a lot of time. We must embroider traditional patterns like flowers in the front and a banyan tree and birds in the back. We weave fabric and make our clothes by hand. We don’t have sewing machines.”

When they attend festivals, they wear extra waist sashes to make that costume more elegant.  Mai Thanh said “Customarily, a Cao Lan girl wears a brassiere with two stripes at her wedding ceremony. Brassieres of remarried women don’t have stripes.”

The maxi skirt is made of 5 pieces of indigo cloth with an upper hem of a contrasting color. The lower hem is sewn with colored threads. Trac Thi Ngon said the clothes of a Cao Lan girl reveal her skill and aesthetic sense. Even today Cao Lan women continue to weave fabric and make their own clothes.