Malaysian cultural outfits

Baju is the term for clothing in the Malay language. Since Malaysia comprises three major cultures: Malay, Chinese and Indian, each culture has its own traditional and religious articles of clothing all of which are gender specific and may be adapted to local influences and conditions.



Malay women wear a baju kurung baju melayu and baju kebaya


The Chinese women wear the cheongsam, a one-piece dress with a high neck, diagonally closed with small clips or toggles (fabric clasps). It can be fitted or loose, with side slits at the hem. The cheongsam is especially popular around the time of the Chinese New Year and other formal gatherings (the fourth and fifth women from the right in the picture above). Older well-respected women wear a samfoo, which looks like pajamas with a separate loose fitting top fastened by toggles and ankle length, or above the ankle, pants.


Indian women wear very colorful saris in a rich variety of bright and subtle dyes during ritual prayer in the temple and for everyday living (first and second women from the left in the picture above, and picture at the right). The fabric imported from India, made of the best quality silk is used in making saris. There are two layers to a sari: a long bright colored "dress" decorated with colorful beads sewn on it to make it look more attractive, and a wrap, a piece of straight fabric draped around one shoulder which ties across the body around the waist area. Women with a high standing will have their clothing made from gold and silver thread with elaborate beading.


Malay and Indian

For the Malay culture, the men wear baju melayu with a songkok or cap, on their head. Traditional clothing for men in Malaysia consists of a silk or cotton skirt and shirt with a scarf like piece of cloth tied around his waist. This scarf is sewn together at the ends and is traditionally called a sarong or a kain. Most of the clothing is made up of bright and bold colors. The man also wears a religious hat.

The Indian men wear Sherwani, Lungi, Dhoti and Kurta-Pajama.The Sherwani: a coat like garment fitted close to the body, of knee-length or longer and opening in front with button-fastenings. Below the men wear a garment for the lower part of the body, baggy and wide at the top tied with a string at the waist , and tight around the legs and ankles. elhi.

The Lungi: The traditional lungi originated in the south and today it is worn by men and women alike. It is simply a short length of material worn around the thighs rather like a sarong.

The Dhoti: The most ancient recorded Indian drape is a dhoti. They require a piece of cloth which seems longer and larger than what was worn in the past, but their pleating is often simpler, and they are not adorned with belts anymore. All dhotis begin with the same basic closing. It is the only drape that doesn't start from one pallav but from the centre of the upper border. The middle of the cloth is tied around the hips. Each end of the cloth is then draped around the leg on its side.

The Kurta-Pyjama: The Kurta or the top is a knee length colarless shirt which is adorned inmostly white or pastel colors. But today you will find Kurtas made out of the most wonderful and colorful of fabrics. Pyjama-are like loose trousers with a string tie at the waist. Traditionally white in color.

 The Chinese men wear silk blouses and silk jackets, samfu that hugs the body tightly and is made from one piece of fabric.


The classical everyday clothing for men in Malaysia is a short sleeved shirt worn outside the trousers, light-weight trousers and informally, sandals for comfort.


Baju Kurung Kedah – worn only by Malay women as a daily dress for married women. it is a shorter dress with three-quarter sleeves, so the wearer can move around easily.

Baju Batik – worn by men and women on a formal occasion. Usually colorful cotton printed in the batik or wax resist method of dyeing.

Baju Melayu – worn by Malay men, it does not have any buttons but has a special kind of button called a butang. The fabric used to make a baju melayu is made from either nylon, satin, or silk. Along with this is a songkok or kopiah, worn on the head. Songkok are generally a dark natural color, and the kopiah is a white color and represents purity.

Baju Kurung – a baju kurung is worn by women for occasions such as school (as a uniform) or to a wedding. It too is brightly colored and can come in a variety of different printed designs. It is a knee length dress with a full length sleeves.

Baju Kebarung – is a combination of the baju kebaya and the baju kurung. It is loose and almost reaches the ankles; it is not one of the traditional clothes of the Malay, but an adaptation.


"Customs & Traditions." Fabric Online. 6 Apr. 2007 .

"MALAYSIA." Seameo RSIP07. 6 Apr. 2007 .

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