Bajukurung is a traditional Malay dress comprising a sarung, or a long skirt, and a long sleeved blouse. In the1950s, women would pair the blouse with a sarung made from kainsongket (a handwoven textured fabric with gold or silver threads) and accessorise with jewellery and a handbag before finishing off their look with bright red lipstick. This garment was initially worn for important functions but eventually became popular for daily wear.
The 1960s saw the translucent kebaya, or a slim fitting blouse, becoming popular among women while a corset was worn underneath. The figure-hugging outfit was usually paired with a sarung made from kainsongket or batik. Typically, it was custom-made to suit the individual. As a testament to its popularity, the era saw many actresses donning the garment in Malay films.
In the 1970s, thick fabrics became the material of choice for women while accessories such as chokers and trendy hair scarves were also incorporated into the look. Women began favouring loose and brightly colouredbajukurung in the 1980s, with shoulder pads giving them a sharper look. The 1990s saw figure-hugging kebaya paired with a corset making a comeback. Many of the designs featured beads or sequins.
In the new millennium, silk and French lace became some of the popular materials used in making the bajukurung and kebaya. A fusion of modern and traditional styles also emerged, such as peplum kebaya.