Baju Melayu, which literally translates to ‘Malay shirt’, is a traditional garment worn by men particularly during major religious holidays in Malaysia. Typically worn during the Raya celebrations, Baju Melayu comes with a rich history and now has adapted many modern designs to fit the styles of today’s generations. Learn about everything you need to know about Baju Melayu below.

Types of Baju Melayu | What's the difference between Baju Melayu Cekak Musang and Baju Melayu Teluk Belanga? | Where can I buy Baju Melayu?


Everything You Need to Know about Baju Melayu

The Baju Melayu has been around for more than 500 years and was first made widely popular by the Sultan of Malacca named Tun Hassan Temenggong. There are actually two variations of the Baju Melayu which are known as Baju Kurung Cekak Musang and the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga.

The Malaccan Empire was known as the strongest in the region which stretched from Sumatra in the South and Thailand in the North. The Strait of Malacca was not only used by merchant ships, but it was also a cross-traffic barter trade as well as maritime trade. Traders from surrounding countries such as India, China, Middle East, and Europe were trading at this location.

Due to the arrival of foreigners, various fashion styles were also brought to Malacca. Sooner or later, it influenced the Baju Melayu, which is a combination of loose-fitting styles from the Arabs and Indians, while the trousers and pants were from the Mongols and Turks. It is also influenced by the Europeans based on their simple and elegant styles.

The evolution of Baju Melayu

During the Malaccan Empire in the 15th Century, it was said that the Malay men wore simple attires which resembled the outfits of Silat performers. The style of the attire was short-sleeved and tight-fitting.

It was not until Tun Hassan Temenggong redesigned the Baju Melayu by extending the overall length of the shirt dress. He also made it loose-fitting where the shirt dress widens all the way down along with the sleeves of the shirt. The purpose of the design was so that wearers were able to fold the sleeves up when it comes to having a meal. Although the modern-day Baju Melayu has been made accustomed to the newer trends, the cut remains similar to the original design.

Moral code of wearing Baju Melayu

There are actually certain traditional practices and ethics that need to be followed by Malays when it comes to wearing the Baju Melayu. If you take note of the Cekak Musang which is the name given for the shirt, you will notice that there are five buttons – two at the collar region and three on the upper body. The five buttons represent the five pillars of Islam which are Shahada, Salat, Zakat, Fasting, and Pilgrimage to Mecca, due to the fact that Malays follow the Islamic faith.

As a fashion style, the Baju Melayu cannot be tight-fitted due to ethical reasons. The reason being that when Muslims perform their Islamic prayers, they are required to bend and sit a couple of times. Other than that, the attire is a significant attire during major religious festivals such as Aidil Fitri and Aidil Adha.

Types of Baju Melayu

Baju Melayu has come a long way. Following the trend that changes over time, Baju Melayu is now available in a variety of styles and designs to fit every man’s fashion needs during Ramadan. Some Baju Melayu styles include Baju Melayu Moden, Baju Melayu Tradisional, Baju Melayu Hipster, and Baju Melayu Slim Fit.

When to Wear Baju Melayu

As a type of traditional wear, Baju Melayu is normally worn by men at weddings, formal occasions, festive celebration and religious events.

What's the difference between Baju Melayu Cekak Musang and Baju Melayu Teluk Belanga?

Baju Melayu Teluk Belanga features a blouse with a hand-stitched eel’s spine (tulang belut) round neck collar with a slit in the middle connected by a button. It is complemented by a kain samping under the blouse. History has it that the Teluk Belanga style was derived from Sultan Abu Bakar’s aides in commemorating the relocation of Johor’s administrative capital from Teluk Belanga in Singapore to Tanjung Puteri (known as Johor Bahru) in 1866.

On the other hand, Baju Melayu Cekak Musang is a delicate piece that is most recognisable with its 5-button raised collar top fastened together by dress studs or sitat. It is usually tucked in a songket or kain samping that’s worn around the waistline. Cekak Musang translates to fox’s leash in English. These days, not only is Baju Melayu Cekak Musang made for men, but there's also a variation designed for women too, which is known as the Baju Kurung Cekak Musang. The Cekak Musang outfit pairs well with loafers, gladiators, and sandals for men, whereas women can complement the piece with pointed heels, flats, and heeled sandals.

Where can I buy Baju Melayu?

During the holy fasting month, you can find Baju Melayu in most clothing stores in Malaysia. Alternatively, you can find Baju Melayu through online stores like Lazada, Shopee, Zalora, and Fashion Valet.

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