The NAM Dress Shirt

This was the first dress shirt design I ever had, which inspired me to learn to sew and create my current wardrobe. It was a highly symbolic design with a distinct look and I finally got all the factors right to make it, from fit to craftsmanship to final design (from draft) to the matching buttons which I found quite serendipitously in Manhattan.

Before you can understand the symbolism of this dress shirt, you need to understand its inspiration, which was the flag of the Republic of Viet Nam (later known as South Viet Nam), where I was born.

6x4 Printable South Vietnamese Flag (High Resolution)The flag is yellow with three red stripes, as shown in the picture at right. The three red stripes represent the bloodlines of the three peoples of Viet Nam in the North, South and Central (stacked vertically to represent geography). But since we are one in being Vietnamese, we regard the bloodlines as flowing from a common heart.

On my dress shirt shown below, I took the second metaphor to align the red stripes vertically on the side of the heart.

NAM Dress ShirtOtherwise, the stripes met at the shoulder from front and back in a V bent, not straight. The angles of the yokes also bend like a V rather a right angle L, and the cuffs also come to a point like a V. All those Vs stand for Viet Nam.

I wanted a black background against which to highlight the red and yellow yoke. But instead of just going for simple black, I opted for a checkered black on black fabric which was symbolic of the rice fields that cover much of Viet Nam, especially southern Viet Nam.

Finally, by complete fluke, I found buttons which had a yellow background and three red stripes while shopping in Manhattan. I was just awestruck when I found them, knowing this shirt was a destiny needing to be fulfilled… and it has been!


This definitely gets a gold rating. I was a little sad my chest wasn’t big enough to have the stripes completely align with my heart, but I didn’t want to have smaller stripes. I have worn this where there were Vietnamese people only once so far, and had four ladies come up to ask me from where I had gotten it. Lots of others were looking and I knew they recognized it for the flag resemblance, though they probably didn’t get the V nor rice field symbolism. But that’s OK. I just hope they, and any others who don’t recognize the flag worn, still think it’s a nice dress shirt. It’s not everyday you see red, yellow and black worn as a colour combination. Unfortunately for me, with adidas being a huge global corporation whose logo is three parallel stripes, lots of people probably think I am wearing an adidas dress shirt when they see me in it. I can bet you adidas never made anything in red and yellow when they were based out of Viet Nam. Too bad they moved out cause their stuff made there have gone to crap since they’ve left Viet Nam. But in the same sense of the current Vietnamese government bullying against this flag, as they tried to ban it outside of Viet Nam with foreign governments and lost big time on that, you won’t see me wearing this any where near the country, either. Fastest way to get to jail, I can guarantee you that!

Please click here to see other fashion posts I have written, including garments made.

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