You’ve probably noticed how similar the clothes are worn by female members of the Thai Royal Family look. This is no accident – they (almost) always wear what are known as Thai dresses of royal endorsement.
This attire was a product of the efforts of Thai Queen Sirikit, who got engaged to Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1949 and married him in the Thai capital the following year. She served as regent when he entered the Buddhist monkhood for a term. As she fulfilled her duties exceptionally well, Sirikit was named official Regent of Thailand.
She always dressed in a stylish and elegant, yet modest manner, but she came to find out that her country did not have an official national outfit to represent it at an international level. When traveling abroad alongside her husband on official duties, the Queen decided to deal with the clothing issue and create an official national outfit for women.
When she came back to Bangkok, she started researching Thai traditional clothing and what the attire of members of royalty had been like at official functions in the past. With the help of a team of researchers and designers, Sirikit designed a total of eight outfits for official functions. Many of them shared similarities, incorporating fabrics and styles that were already representative of Thai people, but with different degrees of formality.
The Thai national costume was born in 1964. In English, it is referred to as “Thai dress that has been royally endorsed”, in Thai it is chut Thai phra ratcha niyom. For the sake of simplicity, the name is often shortened to chut Thai (Thai outfit).