The importance of wearing traditional clothing are endless, but the most important aspect is to stay connected to your own culture. On the other hand, there is a certain aesthetic appeal that traditional clothing gives and you can definitely look stylish in it. Read on to learn about the traditional clothing from Southeast Asian countries.
The most common type of traditional Muslimah wear, baju kurung is versatile as it is suitable to be worn during festive seasons, formal events or as an office attire. Perhaps one of the more popular choices for Muslim women, the outfit is meant to be worn loosely which gives it a modest look. It is known as the official dress for many Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. For the Malays, the baju kurung has its own unique distinctiveness that represents grace and tradition which dates back to the 19th century. Traditionalists prefer designs from the East part of Peninsular Malaysia, where batik and other hand-crafted fabric are prominent.
The Malay attire is believed to have been initiated around 700 years ago and was introduced by the Sultan Muhammad Shah of the Malaccan Empire which is known for their rich philosophy in dressing. The Sultan wanted Malays to have their own natural identity through the way they dressed. Originally, the baju Melayu was short and snug but was eventually modified with the consent of the Sultan. The traditional wear is not only represented as a symbol of national identity but also to cover the intimate parts of a Muslim man.
Referred to as "dress of the tagalog", the Barong is typically worn by Filipino men during formal occasions. Generally, it is made with natural fabrics such as Jusi, Pina, Abaca, Oganza, and Pina-Jusi. There are various variations of the Barong Tagalog, where it can be long or short sleeved with different collars, colours, embroideries, appliques or paintings.
The most widely recognized Vietnamese traditional clothing is known as the Ao Dai, which is translated to flowing tunic. It has been worn by women for many centuries, however, men also do wear it but only during traditional ceremonies. Other than the generic long gown, with slits at both sides, there are actually various designs of this traditional wear. The four-part flowing tunic usually has two equal front flaps that can be tied. On the other hand, the five-part flowing tunic has an additional small front flap that can be buttoned onto the right side of the dress.
Baju kebaya is said to have been brought by the Arabs and is typically made of gauze-like material, batik, and embroidered with different patterns. After the introduction of cultural assimilation which lasted for hundreds of years, the outfit was accepted as the locals’ traditional wear. The other variation of the baju kebaya is the Nyonya kebaya which is often associated with the women of the Peranakan community. The outfit is often paired with beautiful beaded slippers known as “kasut manek”. The modern day baju kebaya has evolved in many ways and can also be worn with everyday casual wear such as jeans!