Traditional Singapore Costumes

Although Singapore has less than 4 million official citizens, it is divided into four main races, of which Chinese account for about 75%, and the rest include Malays, Indians and Eurasians. People of different ethnic groups wear their own typical costumes. Here we present the traditional costumes of Singapore.


Singapore Dresses

Singapore Dresses


Peranakan from Singapore

The traditional costume of Singapore is the Peranakan costume, which represents the combination of Malays and Chinese, combining the various cultures and races of the country and showing the characteristics of Singapore.


What is Peranakan

The Baba Nyonyas, or Peranakans, are descendants of the Chinese who settled in Malaya (modern-day Malaysia) areas such as Mantraje (Malacca), Manjapahit (Indonesia) and Sri Lanka (Singapore) in the early 15th century. They are descendants of ancient Chinese immigrants and indigenous Malays in Southeast Asia after their marriage. Most of them originated in Fujian or the Chaoshan area of Guangdong. They are called Baba Nyonya. Baba Nyonya is a transliteration, most of them born in Malacca, Malaysia. There are more in Penang and Singapore. The males are called "Baba" and the females are called "Nyonya".


Nyonya Traditional Costume

Nyonya costumes are based on traditional Malay costumes. In addition to traditional Chinese lace decorations, they are exchanged for low-cut Western-style cloaks.





Most Nyonya suits are made of light chiffon. The colors are not only traditional Chinese red and pink, but also auspicious Malay Turkish green. The decorative patterns are mostly Chinese traditional flowers, birds, fish, insects, dragons and phoenixes.


From 1910 to 1920, Nyonya costumes were not only changed through traditional Chinese hand embroidery and casting methods. Also, the lace of the Dutch West Indies clothing is decorated in the dress called "Kebaya". Baju Panjang replaced by Kebaya. The tailoring fully shows the waist and, coupled with the Sarong skirt, makes the young women more charming, elegant and virtuous at the same time.


Nyonya women begin to learn embroidery and rhinestone crafts from their childhood. Nyonya shoes (kasut manek) are pearl shoes handmade by Nyonyas in their spare time. The small colored beads are nailed to the slanted surface with thread, the pattern is very delicate, and the craftsmanship extremely complicated. Before getting married, the Nyonyas also make a few pairs of kasut manek shoes, and give them to their in-laws to show their virtue.


Malay dress

Malaysian men usually wear a type of Song Gu hat without brim on the head, a collarless shirt, wide sleeves on the upper body, and a sarong on the lower body. Malaysian women wear a wide shirt like a jacket on the upper body and a sarong on the lower body.


Song Gu hat

Song Gu Hat



The traditional wide shirt that Malaysians wear on the upper body is called Baju, a neckless dress with long sleeves. Baju's characteristics are long, wide and loose.


The clothes that Malaysians wear in their daily lives do not have much difference in appearance. In fact, there are differences. Malays wear the ankle-length Sarong. In addition to wearing sarongs, Malay women usually wear a thin scarf like cicada wings on their heads.


Malaysia and Singapore's national costume is the baju kurung, a traditional outfit. A Baju Kurung is a loose-fitting full-length dress, consisting of a blouse and a skirt. It is loosely translated as "enclosed dress". The term "baju kurung" is used to refer to both the male and female attire. Male costumes are known as baju melayu, and female costumes are known as baju kurung. The Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga and the Baju Kurung Cekak Musak both follow different fashion philosophies. Only the standing collar on the outfit's neck may be used to distinguish between these two, the former having no collar.


Chinese Qipao (Cheongsam)

The Chinese occupy 76.2% of Singapore's population. Therefore, the Qipao, a traditional Chinese costume, is very popular among Chinese women in Singapore.





This beautiful old outfit from Singapore is a wonderful alternative to contemporary clothing because of its exquisiteness. Additionally, it is thought that a person's cheongsam also reflects their cultural identity, social standing, and personality. Since the cheongsam's creation in China during the early Republican eras, it has enjoyed widespread popularity both domestically and abroad for more than 90 years. Nowadays its appeal is gradually expanding beyond socialites and wealthy women. Cheongsams are being reinvented by modern designers in new shapes and fabrics, and they are being reintroduced as the ideal attire for everything from casual everyday wear to respectable formal attire.


Family Dress

Although Singapore has the largest number of Chinese, it is always a multi-ethnic country. Therefore, when Singapore held the APEC summit in 2009, it specially designed a "national dress" that combined the characteristics of the traditional costume of Chinese, Malays and Indians.


Although the history of this costume is not long, the Singapore government is determined to promote it as the national costume of Singapore. The current Prime Minister of Singapore often wears this suit in public. During New Year's speeches throughout the years, Lee Hsien Loong likes to wear "family dress".


Family Dress

Family Dress


The familiar dress for men is a shirt for the upper body and long black pants for the lower body. The shirt, made of linen fabric, with a Chinese collar and long sleeves, is light and breathable. It generally has colors of red, green, and blue.


And the Singapore family dress for women is a blouse for the upper body and long black pants for the lower body. The blouse is made of high-quality Thai silk with bright colors, highlighting the beauty and elegance of women. The colors of the blouse are dark red or light red.


Both clothes have exquisite embroidered lace.

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