Do you want to know more
about fashion, then this is the place for you.
Male Peranakans in the past wore the
Kain pelekat as casual attire. In case you didnt already know, the Kain
pelekat is a type of Indian cloth made of cotton about 2m long and 1.2m wide. It is a
cotton sarong in a checked pattern of muted tones (this type of cloth is also worn by
women in Medan and Penang). It is woven with a central panel in the patterns and a border.
The cheaper ones were made with synthetic yarn.
Nyonyas are considered
to be one of the most elegant dressers in South East Asia. There is more to Peranakan
dressing than just a long blouse over a long skirt. Nyonyas wore sarongs with various
styled blouses as a 2-piece ensemble known in Malay as the baju panjang which
consists of a long tunic worn over a sarong. Wealthy towkays' wives usually wore a
neat-fitting garment that enveloped them from head to foot. And, in order to make the
garment look neat and stiff, this long sleeved tunic would usually be starched. Fastened
with brooches (kerongsang), the tunics are worn with colourful sarongs.
Did you know the sleeves of the tunic are exceptionally tapered
to show off any bangles or jewellry worn by the Peranakan women.
Here is a little history for
your information. Early tunics were made of cotton gingham in a small check. This usually
came in a sombre brown or reddish brown a sharp contrast to the colourful tunics
and sarongs worn by the rich women.
Do not be mistaken that
Peranakan dresses revolve around the baju panjang! Peranakan women too wear stiff
organdie dresses only when entertaining guests or venturing out of the house. However,
these ladies wore only an inner blouse with sarongs at home. This fashionable blouse is
hip-length and called a "short dress" in Hokkien. The Vshaped neckline of
the baju panjang would reveal the inner blouse and its high collar. Complete with a large
square hankerchief (saputangan/setangan), youre all set to paint the town!
did not lay stagnant. Eventually, at the end of the 1920s, Nonyas wore a much shorter
kebaya that ended around the hips. Her body hugging kebaya was secured with three
brooches, all of which are joined to form a chain. Today, Peranakan fashion is at its peak
again especially since fashion themes are based on a fusion of east and west. Peranakan
cloth too is an exotic fusion of Malay and Chinese cultures where fabric patterns are
large and striking and the hues are attractive and vibrant.
6 of us in Baju Kebaya
|"The feeling is
undescribable." - Jeanette
|"I felt like a
Peranakan." - Junting
|"The patterns and
designs are unique." - Layshan
|"I felt that I have to
try to look feminine to match the baju kebaya." - Siew Men
|"I did not
feel comfortable in it. Imagine! The nyonyas have to wear this everyday!" - Peiyu
the baju kebaya is so tiring. I have to maintain a good posture and be careful of my
movements." - Ellince.