The Malaysian culture is extremely diverse; it takes different components of Singaporean, Malay, Indonesian, and Muslim traditions and mixes it into one. This is apparent in the country’s national customs and practices. One can easily see the influence of different cultures in food, architecture, and fashion.
Speaking of fashion, the national dress of Malaysia is the Baju Kurung, or sometimes stylized as Baju Kurong. It is worn widely throughout the country by people of Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Indigenous descent as it is one of the approved dressing for female civil servants and for the uniform of female Muslim students.
What is Baju Kurung?
Baju Kurung literally means “enclosed dress” in the Malay language. This type of traditional dress was popularized by Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor in the late 19th century. The Sultan’s mission was to create something that abides by the rules of their religion while still maintaining the aesthetic factor. It became more popular and prospered even more during the rise of Islam in Malaysia in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Baju Kurung is loose yet fitting but modern styles of Baju Kurung have started to emerge. This is to cater to the needs and demands of the younger generations who seek more self-expression in their attires. The Baju Kurung available these days are made with various materials. You can easily find Baju Kurung batik, Baju Kurung lace, or Baju Kurung cotton that are more comfortable and chic.
Different Styles of Baju Kurung
There are different styles of both traditional and contemporary Baju Kurung. Some of the most popular Baju Kurung styles are the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga, Baju Kurung Cekak Musang, Baju Kurung Kedah, Baju Kurung Pahang, and Baju Kurung Modern, or often spelled as Baju Kurung Moden.
Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga is one of the oldest styles of the traditional dress. The name is based on the Teluk Belanga area in Singapore that was previously used as the center of the Johorean Sultanate. This style was originally reserved for loyalties and blue-bloods but now it has become the most common traditional dress for Malaysians and Singaporeans.The Teluk Belanga Baju Kurung was then modified into Baju Kurung Cekak Musang with a standing collar and shorter blouse.
Pairing and Accessorizing a Baju Kurung
Because of its fit, you won’t be able to accentuate your curves or shape of your body with the Baju Kurung. For curvier ladies who wants to appear slimmer, opt for a peplum Baju Kurung in a darker color. Thinner girls should avoid wearing fluffy and extremely loose dresses so they won’t be drowned by the clothes itself. If choosing a contemporary design is not optimal, you can try adding flair by using pieces of jewelry. An embellished, jewel necklace or a pair of chandelier earrings can bring life into the drabbest Baju Kurung.