Indonesian culture through its distinctive traditional clothes

Indonesian culture through its distinctive traditional clothes

Indonesia is the largest island country in the world and made up of more than 17,000 islands. Over 300 ethnic groups in this country make its culture more attractive and appealing, as every ethnic group has its own clothing traditions, tastes in adornments and methods of making costumes.

As a result, the traditional clothing style is so diverse and unique that can only be seen in Indonesia. Let explore Indonesian culture through its distinctive traditional clothes.

Indonesian culture

Indonesia is the largest island country in the world

The arts of Indonesia is famous worldwide for their uniqueness. Some works of art are created in the Bronze and Iron Ages. The sculptures that illustrate the Buddha's are still in the 10th-century temples. And traditional clothes are still quite popular today such as sarong, kebaya, batik, etc.

Although there are so many different traditional costumes in Indonesia used by various minority ethnic groups, all of them possess some traits in common: bright and multicolored, flamboyant patterns and richly colored jewelry, and most importantly striking headdresses,...

The most popular traditional Indonesian clothes today are Batik and Kebaya. In fact, the origin of these kinds of clothes is mainly from the culture of Java and Bali and prominent with Javanese-Balinese culture. However, Batik and Kebaya have become the typical costumes of the whole Indonesia nowadays.

Indonesian normal costume

As the climate is so hot, Indonesians' favorite clothing styles are loose like sarong skirts and oversize shirts of light fabric. n normal days, you will definitely be surprised by seeing Indonesians wear modern clothes just like the western style. Man wear shirts and pants, even with a tie sometimes. Most women wear blouses, skirts or dresses. Favorite clothing styles of young Indonesian are simple like jeans and T-shirts.

National clothes are worn in official occasions and traditional ceremonies.


Indonesian male usually wears distinctive traditional clothes like sarong with the checkered pattern at home and also in public on Friday at the mosque. Sarong is colorful and is favored in Java, Bali, Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Indonesian culture

Javanese men in sarong, baju koko, and peci

If you visit Indonesia on special occasions like national ceremonies, you will have a chance to see a man in batik shirts and teluk beskap or trousers that are the unique combination of the sarong and Javanese jacket.

Women's traditional clothing - Kebaya

Indonesian culture

Indonesia's traditional dressing

While Indonesian man wears sarongs on formal occasions, Indonesian women wear kebaya on weddings, celebrations, diplomatic meetings, national events, etc. And many Indonesian women wear kebaya in every single day. Kebaya is a traditional outfit that was one of the Indonesian heritages from the 15th century. This costume has a long history and worn by various kinds of women from feminists of Indonesia, wealthy women when it becomes a fashion,... to sellers in the market.

Indonesian culture

Women wear Kebaya

Kebaya is a blouse embroidered and then worn with a sarong (or batik, wrap-around skirts) in colorful floral patterns. It is made from thin cotton, silk, nylon or polyester. Kebaya can be draped a long stretch over one shoulder. This traditional cloth is also used as a head scarf that seems very popular with backpackers.

Indonesian culture

Woman wearing a songket, a wedding dress of South Sumatra, Indonesia

Indonesian female is not forced to wear Muslim clothes but they want to dress discreetly to pay respect to Muslim people as the largest Muslim population is in Indonesia. Besides, kinds of short kebaya are still worn on the beaches. Kebaya is not the only women's traditional outfit, other garments are sarongs with floral patterns, ikats (made from ikat fabric) and songkets (handmade clothes woven in silk, and patterned with silver or gold threads).

Men's traditional clothing - Batik shirts

Any trip to Indonesia can not be completed without visiting a batik store or factory. Batik is a fabric dyeing process with the technique named wax resist. Indonesian has made batik over 1000 years, the first people who used this technique lived on Java.

The word batik is supposed to be derived from "ambatik" which means "a cloth of little dots". It is also said that batik has its origin from the Javanese word "tritik" that is a process of dying. There is even is famous Javanese phase of making batik is “mbatik manah” which has the meaning of “design a batik on the heart”.

Indonesian culture

Batik shirts is worn by many Indonesian men

It has the gorgeous patterns and different in various region. Batik is the main hand-dyeing technique that is used to make a great diversity of male clothes: from sarong-like skirts, shirts, to wrap-around clothes. Batik shirts are generally worn by Indonesian men, the sleeve can be long (on formal occasions) or short (on informal occasions). In addition to batik shirts, Indonesian males also wear a Muslim shirt named "baju koko" or "baju takwa" on religious ceremonies or special occasions. This kind of shirt is combined with sarong and peci to become a set.


Headdress is considered as the most important part of Indonesian folk outfits. Several popular headgears such as jamang (bride headgear), cunduk mentuk (golden flower hair adornment), jibab (veil that Muslim women use to cover all the neck and hair, only the eyes visible),...

Indonesian culture

cunduk mentuk - a kind of headgear

Another indispensable part of Indonesian traditional clothing is "peci" or also called "songkok" and "kopiah". It is a Muslim cap of men that is made from black velvet and worn with batik shirt on formal occasions.

If you are a fan of fashion, it is very interesting to learn about traditional costumes that will inspire your creativity and taste of fashion. With its distinctive traditional clothes, Indonesia promises to be a wonderful country for you to tick off on your bucket list.

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