Baju Baju Baju

6:22 PM

Clothing in Malayisa, like most everything else here depends a lot on people's ethnicity.
Day to day wear is similar to the US.. Teen fashion in particular is very similar, and shops like Forever 21, Cotton On, and Abercrombie are popular here as well. A typical outfit would be jeans and a t-shirt or nicer blouse.\ The Chinese and Indians tend to show more skin; the Malays generally cover up a bit more, wearing mostly long sleeves and long pants. Some Malays wear the tudung (headscarf) but this is a personal choice and there are no laws that require Muslims, or non-Muslims to wear it. Some people, especially in the older generation, still wear traditional clothing all the time, see below for what this looks like.
Around the house is a different story. Most people go home, change out of their school uniform, and put on comfy lounge-wear type clothes. At first, I'd always put on jeans after school, but they aren't comfortable at all. So now I keep it casual in comfy clothes.
 Actually, now I usually just end up wearing my pajamas around the house during the daytime...Comfy, indeed.
Traditional wear is where things get really interesting. This varies drastically from race to race, so I'll break it up that way. (Please enjoy my modeling as well...)

For women, traditional clothing is usually the baju kurung or baju kebaya. The baju kurung is a knee length loose-fitting dress with long sleeves. Underneath is a floor length skirt. These come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and some include embellishments like sequins, beading, or sparkles (no complaint on my part...) Yes, this outfit is rather hot! Most people usually push up the sleeves to their elbows, a necessity while cooking or else your baju kurung will be up to its elbows in smelly fish juice or sticky coconut milk. 
Baju kebaya is a shorter blouse with a similar long skirt. The blouse  is usually tighter than the flowiness of the kurung. Finally, we have the baju kebarung, which is an ankle length dress with long sleeves.
The material for these outfits varies from set to set. Silk, cotton, and polyester are the most common as they are rather lightweight.
Some people wear the tudung with this outfit as well. The tudung style also varies, some people wear the longer style which extends to the waist, while others wear tudungs that just cover the chest and shoulders. Tudungs can be very gorgeous, some of the materials, colors, and embroidery I've seen on them are so intricate and well-crafted.
For men, traditional dress is the baju melayu. This is a colorful silk suit with fabric wrapped around the area from the navel to the knees. Worn with this is the songkok, a hat that is usually black or another dark color.

Me and others in baju kurung, me in tudung
my friend Rachael in baju kebaya

Me and my LP's sister in baju kurung

Men in baju melayu. Found this pic on google and I'm still cracking up
The Indian traditional attire in Malaysia is very similar to the Indian attire in India. In fact, a lot of the material that shops use here is imported from India. 
Many women wear the saree. This is a blouse that covers the chest, a petticoat, and a swath of fabric that is draped around the body. Many sarees are beautifully embellished and handmade. Sarees are literally folded around the body in some sort of pleated matter, a skill that Indian women make look so easy but has me confused in about 5 seconds. 
Punjabi suits are also very popular. These are knee length dresses with pants worn underneath. Some punjabi have long sleeves, some short, and others are tank top style. Usually a scarf or shawl is worn in a variety of different ways. Again, they are beautifully vibrant. Walking into a Hindu temple is like walking into a rainbow with all the different colors and fabrics.
There are also other types of dress for women. Pattu Pavadai, a shirt and long skirt are common for younger girls along with Ghagra Choli, a skirt and blouse set that is almost like a modified sari.
With the Indian dress, accessorizing is key. A penjabi or saree is not complete without tons of sparkly bangles, shiny earrings, and gold necklaces. Many Indian women (and one 15 year old YES scholar cough cough) have their noses pierced and have special nose rings for nice occasions. 
Most men usually just wear a nice silk shirt and slacks. I haven't encountered this yet, but the traditional Indian menswear is called the kurta. It's a cotton knee length shirt and pants that tie around the waist and ankles. 

Pattu Pavadai



fancy punjabi

-Thanks to Rachael for this info, she's staying with a Chinese family-
For women, the traditional dress is called Cheongsam. It is a short silk dress that usually hits around the knees. The neckline is similar to that of a turtleneck, it has a high collar and ties across the front of the chest. Usually there is a slit in the collar. It is usually short-sleeved or sleeveless. Seems to be a common theme here: the colors of the dress are vibrant. Usually there is embroidery on the dress. Originally, most of the dresses were red with embroidered dragons or peacocks, but designs have changed over time.
Men usually wear a top that resembles the cheongsam. It has similar ties in the front. They usually wear nice pants and some sort of sandals.
I've only stayed with a Chinese family for one night so I haven't had much exposure to this yet! If anyone wants to add something to this, feel free!


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  1. You have me dying to wear all these clothes. Are you still taking sari orders? ;)

  2. i came, i fed, i conquered

  3. Hannah sayang,Chinese women traditional dress is called cheongsam, not cheongasm :) hey, u r too cute in tudung it :)

  4. Hi Hanna!!it's nice to read your is so awesome!!actually...i want to correct something about what you've said about is a must for muslim women to cover their hair in front of ajnabi..maybe you dont know what ajnabi is but you can ask your host family about, that's why many malay women wear tudung to cover their head and hair. for those who didn't wear tudung, it means that they are not religious enough


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