Traditional baju kurung gets makeover

Detailed: A tailor sewing beads and sequins on to a fabric. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

THE traditional Bruneian garb, baju kurung, has undergone a makeover over the years as women try to keep up with the fashion trend.

In the mid 1990s, most baju kurung would have embroidery or beadings, usually Swarovski crystals.

Most ladies would spend up to $300 just for a dress just to keep up with the trend.

"I used to spend more than $1,000 for my Raya wardrobe," said Rafidah Hamid a civil servant.

She added that the beadings would be heavy and oftentimes she would only wear her baju kurung once as most people would recognise the beadings.

The heavy beadings could be a nuisance especially when carrying a baby or picking food from the buffet line.

In 2002, more women opted for the simple baju opah, originally a Malaysian-style outfit. The baju opah is shorter than the baju kurung and has quarter sleeves.

Generally, some ladies would add a little beading on the cuff although some prefer to add more.

"The baju opah is more comfortable but it is also considered an official dress," said Maimonah Kassim, an officer from BSM.

The baju opah is still in fashion although most ladies still prefer to use the Malay kebaya or the nyonya kebaya, which became famous in the 1950s-1960s. The baju nyonya kebaya has made a comeback recently with some slight modifications like a corset and heavier beadings.

More recently, the cut has also changed from the mermaid cut to the fan cut and now the extra cut, or when more material is added to have a more flowing finish to the kain.

The cara melayu, the traditional wear for men, has also changed over the years although the difference can be seen in the cloth used. Instead of the usual satin, now men prefer to use Thai silk.

"It's more colourful as it has two tones and you look firmer," said Hj Kamal Ali, a teacher.

The Brunei Times


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