Dressed to impress, both young and old came out in droves at this year’s Sacramento Hmong New Year (SHNY).
I haven’t been to SHNY in years, so it was exciting to share the experience with my kiddos. We arrived around 10:30 a.m., but took forever getting dressed in the CalExpo Fairgrounds parking lot on Saturday. If you walked by a very loud group of people trying to get dressed in their finest Hmong clothes on Saturday, that was probably me and my family! My poor mom had to contend with dressing six of us, then herself, while we juggled my adorable two-month old niece in the freezing cold. It was hectic, but it reminded me of days gone by when my parents would drive my sisters and I to Hmong New Year after New Year starting in Chico and working our way down Northern California into the San Joaquin Central Valley and ending in Fresno.
Hmong New Year never ceases to amaze me. This year, there were many who came dressed in traditional garb (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE), but there were just as many who chose to come in more modern Hmong-inspired designs. I ended up taking tons of pictures and want to thank everyone who graciously let some stranger (me) interrupt their conversations and ball tossing so that I could snap their photo.
There were so many beautifully dressed men and women, but my pick of the day was this young woman in the black head wrap (second from the left). I was very excited when I saw her. She wore her Hmong clothes beautifully and was a stand out for me because you just don’t see women dressed in this traditional style with this head wrap anymore. It’s rare to find a Hmong woman wearing a headpiece that she wrapped herself or was wrapped by another for her. Now-a-days, many headpieces have been made into hats, one entire piece you just pop on your head. So, to find an authentic head wrap is pretty cool – but to find one in this style was truly amazing.
Her entire outfit was just lovely. I loved the plain black fabric used for her shirt and sev. Her traditional silver necklace and sash with the many rows of silver coins left me reminiscent of my youth. For me, all other outfits paled in comparison to this very understated one. Her bright and authentic Hmong skirt was a stand out against her black sev. She and her friends looked beautiful and like they were having fun tossing ball when I rudely interrupted them for a picture. Thank you for not turning me away!
Oh, and please excuse my daughter for photo bombing this lovely picture. She and my sister teased me horrendously for being what they called a “creeper,” just walking up to strangers and asking if I could take their picture. Obviously that would be inappropriate under normal circumstances, but Hmong New Year is different! Everyone takes photos of everyone else, it’s the thing to do, other than making new friends, eating some really good food, tossing ball, shopping all the vendors, and reuniting with friends and family of course. I thought about photoshopping her out, but let this be a lesson in photo bombing, if you do it, I will leave you in the picture.
Above: I loved the head pieces on these two ladies, but my favorite was how simple they kept it. In my day, women wore a lot of silver, which is no longer the case. Today, many wear just their silver necklace and one sash around the waist with only one or two rows of silver coins. As you can see, one of these beautiful ladies (right) chose to go without a silver necklace, which is very flattering with her Hmong outfit.
Above: These ladies looked amazing in their Hmong-inspired outfits. I’m a sucker for a really good coordinated group outfit. I’ve seen a lot of interest online in this specific and another similar design. Going with black fabric, instead of a patterned fabric, for the shirt and pairing it with a black skirt really pulls your attention to the embroidery on the arms and sev. The lightweight silver necklaces align with the simplicity and overall fashion-forward look of the outfits. The middle outfit is gorgeous. I love the red, orange, and yellow embroidery on the shirt and sev. The pattern is bold and stands out even from a distance.
Above: There were a lot of men dressed in Hmong clothes too. This couple was very stylish. The man is dressed in traditional Hmong-Thai clothes. A tell-tale sign of Hmong Thai-clothes men clothes is the short shirt. You’ll notice that it is embroidered starting below the neck of the front opening of the shirt, and the embroidered pattern runs along the entire bottom of the shirt and ends at the opening of the opposite side of the shirt. Hmong-Thai men also where the beautiful pink embroidery sash and the baggier (harem style) pants. The lady in this photo is dressed fairly similar to the photo directly above this one. She wears a black skirt and a sev with a similar embroidered pattern, however her head-piece, the opening of the shirt, and her silver necklace are different.
Above: I loved this outfit, but couldn’t get close enough to get a close up as she was surrounded by suitors! From a distance, the red looks like it may be velvet, but that is only a guess. I think that everyone that came across this woman did a double-take. Her headpiece was very impressive and her outfit is similar to those worn by ethnic Hmong in southwest China.
Above: I took this photo to show the many different outfits from behind. Take note of the different head pieces, sashes, belts, and skirts these ladies are wearing. Look at how the women wear their hair based on the head-piece they’re wearing. I also wanted to point out that hair matters, and doesn’t depend on whether you wear a head-piece, but rather on the style of Hmong clothes you are wearing. As you’ll notice, some have braided their hair down the back, or have partially exposed hair, while others have it tucked up into their head-piece.
Above: I saw these two lovelies from afar and had to make a run for it in my Hmong clothes and heels to catch up with them! This style is similar to the photo above with the lady wearing the red velvet-like outfit. I would say these outfits, including the headpiece and silver, are inspired by the ethnic Hmong of southwest China. Again, I love coordinated outfits and these two looked amazing.
We had a great time at SHNY and hope you did too. If you’re planning on going to Merced and Fresno Hmong New Years, I will see you there with camera in-hand!