When one needs to wear traditional Malay clothing, one can always rely on a set of Baju Kebaya. This Southeast Asian traditional staple can be worn to weddings, graduations, and other formal occasions. Baju kebaya is most popular during Ramadan celebrations, where people gather in open houses and enjoy feasts to celebrate the Islamic new year. Read the guide below to know more about baju kebaya.

What’s a Baju Kebaya? | Where can I buy baju kebaya in KL?


Everything You Need to Know about Baju Kebaya

What’s a Baju Kebaya?

Baju Kebaya, or simply known as Kebaya, is a traditional attire worn by women throughout Southeast Asia. The earliest type Kebaya is believed to be originated from the court of the Javanese Majapahit Kingdom and the word itself derived from the Arabic word abaya which means clothing.

Before the 15th century, Baju Kebaya was reserved only for royals, aristocrats, and nobilities. Lower-class citizens and peasants walked bare-chested during this time. Afterwards, when the Portuguese women adapted the Kebaya after they stepped foot in the country.

Although the Kebaya is technically the national attire for Indonesia, you can find women wearing Baju Kebaya in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, southern Thailand, Cambodia, and the Southern Philippines. There are regional and international variations like the Kebaya Kartini, Kebaya Jawa, Kebaya Kutubaru, Kebaya Bali, Kebaya Peranakan or Nyonya Kebaya, and Kebaya Sunda.

Elements of Baju Kebaya

The traditional Baju Kebaya is comprised of three components: the blouse, the brooch, and the skirt. The blouse is typically made from semi-transparent cotton, lace, silk, brocade, or velvet embossed with elegant embroidery. The blouse is then fastened by a brooch, or kerongsang, to secure the centre flaps of the blouse due to it having no buttons.

The brooches are then divided into two types: the kerongsangibu (mother piece) and kerongsanganak (child piece). To wear a traditional Baju Kebaya, you usually need to fasten it with one mother brooch and two child brooches. The former tends to be heavier and larger than the latter. They are often made from gold or silver and can symbolize one’s wealth and nobility. Villagers and peasants would only fasten a traditional Kebaya with safety pins or peniti.

Lastly, the skirt, known as kain or sarong, is a piece of long, unstitched fabric wrapped around the hips and secured with rope (tali). The skirt is then held in place with a belt (ikat pinggang) that can also serve decorative purposes. In Indonesia and Malaysia, women would substitute the skirt with hand-painted silk and lace batik with gold threads.

Variants of Baju Kebaya

Wearing Baju Kebaya modern tend to be easier than wearing the traditional counterpart. You don’t need to fasten the blouse with brooches or the skirt with ropes. The Baju Kebaya modern can also be altered depending on one’s needs; many Indonesian graduates would often wear tailor-made Kebaya in various designs to their convocations. In Malaysia and Singapore, other than the Baju Kurung, modest women would wear Kebaya Muslim to formal events paired with their hijab. Most Muslim brides nowadays would wear Kebaya modern instead of the traditional wedding custom set attire. The wedding Kebaya mixes the classic Baju Kebaya with a modern and slightly Western, silhouette.

What is baju kurung kebaya?

Baju kurung is referred to as Malaysia’s traditional dress while kebaya is most commonly referred to as Indonesia’s traditional attire. In our country, the trend is to incorporate different and new designs into the traditional baju kurung. There are some designs that incorporate the kebaya style, creating a hybrid baju kurung kebaya that’s suitable to be worn to all kinds of special events.

Where can I buy baju kebaya in KL?

When the holy month is approaching, many offline and online stores will start carrying a variety of baju kebaya. Online, you can check stores like Zalora and Fashion Valet for a wide selection of baju kebaya tradisional, baju kebaya moden, kebaya songket, baju kurung, and more.

Buying Baju Kebaya online is now easier than ever with iPrice Malaysia. Here, you can compare prices from our online partner stores and get the best bang for your buck. Represent that Southeast Asian pride by wearing Baju Kebaya now!