East meets West: Which fits you best
Finding your style in culture and time period
Everyone wants to stand out from the crowd, and using fashion is the easiest way to do it. As young people, we feel what we wear is the easiest to define us: our personality, our persona, our identity.
Fashion have been so condensed and many fashion houses have played with cultural pieces. In other words, fashion is like invention: it has went through trial and error to see if it “works” or not. Each cultural pieces are a fashion statement, and sometimes may cause controversies. But we are not here to talk fashion controversy and be fashion critiques, we are no Anna Wintours. We are here to find out which cultural styles fit into your daily fashion.
The Enigmatic Asian
Asia is home to many cultures, so colourful and full of flavour. Stereotyped as exotic and mysterious by foreigners, there are some truths to the cultural labels. Our fashion sense, influenced by our environment and our rulers, were handed down to us after many generations. Some were left behind, some we retained.
It is super hard for us to pick which cultural style that you may like since there are so many to choose from! Nevertheless, we have settled for three (unfortunately) cultural styles you may love.
Originated from Java, Indonesia, this artistic cultural piece made its way into the rest of South East Asia, influencing many of its neighbours’ fashion history. Batik uses a wax-resist dyeing technique applied to the clothes you are wearing. It is made either by drawing dots and lines of the “resist” with a tool called canting. The wax resisting dye will allow for the artists to selectively colour the cloth in one shade, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating the steps if more colours are involved.
Batik can be easily found in cultural shops across Malaysia. You will have no shortage of batik-styled, batik-influenced clothes to show off your indigenous fashion to your friends.
Ahh, Indian! So playfully bright and vivid in colours. The Indian culture did not just boast such incredibly rich food but also such beautiful traditional clothes. Like every culture we see, the Indian traditional clothes is inspired by its environment. Although its traditional clothes is the stereotypical saree, it may vary from region to region. It comes in so many styles and colours it is so exciting to just look at them! For example, northern and eastern Indian women may wear saree with choli tops and lehenga or a dupatta scarf, to resemble a gagra choli. Meanwhile, southern Indian women may wear just the traditional saree.
We don’t often see people wearing sarees as they are often limited to Indian festivals and weddings in Malaysia. Although most people will wear sarees as a piece of memory, fret not as there is the salwar khameez. Easier and lighter to wear compared to the saree, you can flaunt your vibrant Indian outfit in front of your friends and mates next time. There is nothing wrong to be proud of your heritage or your Indian friend’s heritage. After all, we are Malaysians, aren’t we?
Find your tailor to have your Indian traditional clothes made, or find yours at your nearest clothing shop.
No one wears cheongsams to work or college anymore, you may say. Let me stop you right there! Living in a country with so many different races, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a cheongsam outside of Chinese festivals and celebrations. Or traditional clothes for that matter. The cheongsam, like its Indian counterpart, differs from each Chinese region. It could be a full-length dress, or it could be just half that.
Head off to your nearest clothing store to get your cheongsam, or you may have it tailor-made to your personality at your nearest tailor!
Irrefutably, what many people don’t grasp was how it is so easy for us to just choose our heritage clothes to wear…as opposed to having to pick out a set of clothes to go, while worrying if we will fit. Show some love to our heritage, peeps!
The Ubiquitous West
Our modern day fashion sense has been largely influenced by the West. Walk out on to the streets, it is normal to see someone wearing a tee or a dress. Heck, it is even normal to see people wearing a jacket or a pair of jeans in such raging hot weather, you bloody heretic!
Since we have suggested three cultural clothes for you, we have decided to do a twist for your Western fashion. Instead of going which culture, we are going to suggest which time period you should try out.
The 80s may be over nearly 40 years ago but hey man you can be the hippiest hipster amongst your friends. Ripped jeans and plenty of laces, perm your hair and get a mullet. Throw in some high-waisted jeans and neon colours. Your parents would probably be proud of you for making a fashion statement.
If you are crazy enough to go Victorian era in terms of your budget and time investments, you probably should. You don’t necessarily have to wear the full-fledge Victorian era ensemble, but a resemble would do. Girls wear ruffles, laces, and long skirts; whereas men wear coats with tails, waistcoats, and shirts with ruffles down the front. It simply is outrageous! But hey, if you couldn’t outdo your classmates academically, you can at least outdo them in terms of fashion!
You can be an academic failure, but do not be a fashion flop! Impressions do matter.
This fashion suggestion may seem extreme at first glance, but it is practical. Invest some money in cowboy boots, denim pants, and cowboy hats, you are good to go! It may seem like cosplay to some, but it isn’t. There are more bizarre everyday fashion people wear and still not get judged for. As the clichéd saying goes: variety is the spice of life!
Have a bit of fun with your clothes. Spice it up and flaunt them. There is no harm in being different after all.