Modest Fashion: Past and Present

Through the years, modest fashion has evolved into modern and practical everyday wear. Thanks to the international fashion brands and influencers, more women are now turning towards conservative clothing. Keep reading to learn more about this thriving industry and how it came to be what it is today.

Early beginnings

  • Let's first take a trip down memory lane of the two traditional Malay garments: the baju kurung and baju kebaya. The simple yet timeless baju kurung was inspired by the Arabic, Indian and European culture. Meanwhile, the elegant kebaya was first seen in Indonesia among the Portuguese women in the 15th century.

From the baju kurung and kebaya to baju kebarung

  • Throwing it back to the '50s, women traditionally wore the baju kurung for everyday use and special occasions. This type of garment was made of "songket" or "batik" fabrics to deliver comfort and elegance.
  • The '60s marked an iconic fashion era as the kebaya debuted with its figure-hugging bodice and is usually paired with a "sarong" or "kain panjang batik."
  • Next, we have the baju kebarung which is a hybrid of the baju kurung and kebaya. With a loose but comfortable cut, this fashion was very popular during the '90s as it had a modern twist to the traditional Malay costume.

Present-day modest fashion

  • Being in the 21st century allows more room for stylish and modest dressing in many, different ways. Modern fashion brands like Moon Ae-ra incorporates a minimalist and versatile look with their collection and is available in 4 colours. Check out for more.
  • With its Vietnamese-inspired culture and the classic Malay design, Moon Ae-ra's pieces allows you to stand out from the crowd as you rock the top or bottom part of the outfit separately or together.

From the tudung labuh to the turban

  • As the baju kurung and kebaya evolved, so did headscarf fashion. From the conventional tudung labuh, many women have discovered new and modern ways to cover up their hair.
  • The turban headscarf is an example of this, where women wrap them around their heads. Though it provides a certain amount of coverage, it’s not considered a hijab as the neck is shown. Nevertheless, its an innovative way to be fashionable, yet modest at the same time.

From custom-made clothes to online shopping

  • For decades, women get their Raya dresses custom-made from their favourite local tailors or even shop readily-available pieces from retail stores. Up to this day, clothes made by tailors are still in demand, but now, more customers are turning to online shopping due to a wider variety of choices and lower prices.
  • A survey conducted by Statista Research Department in 2019 shows a staggering 70% of the Malaysian respondents purchased clothes during Raya sales. Part of the online shopping trend can be attributed to desirable deals and huge discounts.
  • Moreover, with the ongoing pandemic, it looks like online shopping may continue to grow even more popular than ever.
  • We can agree that modest fashion has definitely come a long way; in terms of style, appearance, and versatility. The future of this industry looks promising as more women begin to appreciate and embrace the beauty of modest fashion.