The kebaya, worn by women for all religious ceremonies and weddings, comprises a long, fitted blouse made either of semi-transparent lace with a corset worn underneath, or of a sheer cotton decoratively embroidered. This is worn over an ankle-length kain (a long, wide rectangular length of fabric, tied at the waist) or a sarong (a rectangle of fabric with the ends sewn together to form a tube), often with high-heeled sandals.
Hair is sleekly pulled back, flowers are worn in the hair, and the finishing touch is a sash that’s fixed around the waist. Different traditions dictate how the sarong and sash should be tied.
Like the women, men also wear a kain or sarong – often in browns and blacks or muted tones – with a sash, tied to create folds at the front, along with a shirt (normally plain in colour) and a head-dress called an ‘udeng’.
Different kinds of fabric indicate the wealth and status of the wearer. Batik is the most popular for sarongs for both men and women, but ikat is also worn. Sometimes the men also wear a ‘kris’ or specially crafted silver dagger, as part of their ceremonial dress – the kris is believed to be sacred, having magical powers.