Traditional Malaysian Outfits

Came across this interesting piece on traditional Malay outfits by accident while surfing the web today. The gorgeous illustrations alone were enough to compel us to reproduce the article on TaiTaiTwins. Perhaps a little bit of fashion history might help us understand and appreciate our rich and colourful heritage better. Cliche but true - we often don't know what we've got (and how good we've got it) till it's gone. 

August 31, 2013 10:00 AM
by Shea Rasol 

As we celebrate Malaysia’s 56th National Day this 31st August, Shea Rasol showcases some of Malaysia’s traditional clothing for women.

Busana Cik Siti Wan Kembang (Kelantan)

Named after the legendary Queen of the state of Kelantan, Busana Cik Siti Wan Kembang was worn by aristocrats during her reign from 1548 to 1580.
The main piece is wrapped around the upper torso like a kemban, and a wide shawl on the shoulders, accessories and jewellery complete the whole look. The dress is usually made of stiff songket material, interwoven with luxurious golden threads.

Nowadays, this attire is no longer worn by the Malaysian women because of its impracticality, but it still remains special and part of our rich traditional culture.

Baju Kebaya Labuh (Johor)
Originating from Johor-Riau culture, the Baju Kebaya Labuh is a two-piece outfit, usually worn during formal occasions. The initial design of the Kebaya Labuh can fall down to the ankles, hence the term labuh, which means long in Malay. But as time passes by, the top has been altered to end at the knees and is worn paired with a sarong with an open front slit.

It is also seen among the ladies of Malacca, Perak and Selangor, where women finish off the look with matching tiered-linked brooches on the frontal opening.

    Baju Kebaya Nyonya (Malacca)

The figure-hugging Kebaya Nyonya originated from Malacca, worn by the Peranakan people. Peranakans are the descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Malacca due to political and historical reasons, and married local women.

The outfit itself is innovated from the original kemban (a sarong wrapped around the body under the arms), an everyday outfit of local women back then. The adapted top of the Kebaya Nyonya is a form of acceptance towards the arrival of Islam in Malacca.

To this date, the Kebaya Nyonya is still around, and has been improvised in terms of fabrics used and the fastening enclosure of the kebaya top and sarong.

Busana Puteri Perak (Perak) 
Inspired by the beautiful styles of our late princesses, this iconic look of Perak’s princesses astonishes us all.

The original outfit consists of a top and pants with a matching songket waist wrap to end the look. The high collar is called cekak musang and remains unchanged with the current improvised baju kurung cekak musang and baju melayu.

Today, Busana Puteri Perak is usually a bridal costume for Perak-born women who want to relive and continue their tradition with the notion of being a princess for a day on her wedding day.

Baju Kurung  
Baju Kurung is a two-piece outfit, consisting of a skirt with side pleats and a tunic blouse worn by ethnic Malays. The Kurung speaks to modesty in a big way as it covers all parts of the body in a loose cut, with minimal figure-enhancing features.

This outfit is the most popular traditional clothing today, and is still everywhere in the streets of Malaysia, probably due to its fulfilment of the Islamic dress code.

It also ranges from a vast usage of materials and finishing, making it suitable for a luxurious look or a casual everyday look, however one wishes to wear them.

As Henry James said, ‘It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition’. Therefore, be appreciative of your cultural roots, for that is what makes everyone in this world amazingly unique.

Image source: Imageshack


Wishing you a Happy & Blessed Eid


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Sandra Bullock

Can't help but notice how fabulous Sandra Bullock's been looking lately. We're totally loving her outfit choices both on the red carpet and off.  To put it simply, we're absolutely inspired! (read: need.gladiator.heels.now) Her sartorial picks are trendy, yet age-appropriate and smouldering with sex appeal.  Currently busy promoting her latest movie The Heat, Sandra B. is certainly turning the style thermostat right on UP!