Kebaya is a traditional blouse worn by Indonesian and Malaysian women made from sheer material and usually worn with a sarong, batik, or other traditional knitted garment such as a songket with a colorful motif.
Kebayas are believed to originate from China hundreds of years ago. They then spread to Melaka, Java, Bali, Sumatra, and Celebes. After hundred years of acculturation, the garments have become adjusted to local customs and culture.
The different types of nyonya kebaya
On the island of Java before 1600, kebayas were sacred clothing to be worn only by members of the Javanese monarchy. During the period of Dutch control of that island, European women began wearing kebayas as formal dress. During this period, kebayas were transformed from only using mori fabric to using silk with colorful embroidery.
A similar garment called the "nyonya kebaya" was first created by the Peranakan people of Melaka. They wore it with a sarong and beautiful beaded shoes called "kasut manek". Nowadays, the nyonya kebaya is going through a period of revival, and is also becoming popular among non-Asian peoples.
Apart from traditional kebayas, fashion designers are looking into ways of modifying the design and making kebayas a more fashionable outfit. Modified kebayas can even be worn with jeans or skirts.