We have a flurry of weddings to attend over the coming months, and the first one of the season called for fancy formal wear!
Who doesn’t love a good excuse to get properly dressed up for an occasion?
I wanted to share the most versatile formal piece in my closet that I have been able to use again and again for a multitude of different events (well ok, mostly to other people’s weddings actually) – my wedding dress.
If you want to check out my post specifically about how to create your own capsule of formal wear, read that over here.
As you can see, I didn’t opt for a white dress. While the 5 year old in me screamed DISNEY PRINCESS, I WANNA FLOAT LIKE CINDERELLA, realistic me wanted colour and most importantly, multiple wears. I turned to my half Chinese Malaysian roots to garner inspiration, and came away with my very own sarong kebaya.
A sarong kebaya is a traditional blouse-dress combo worn in many south east Asian nations. The blouse and skirt can match perfectly, or you can interchange them with other complimentary pieces. Usually as long as one colour is echoed in the opposing piece then you still look coordinating.
During one of my trips to Singapore I purchased the skirt and had it tailored. Of the ensemble it was the most expensive, but still considerably cheaper than a full blown conventional wedding dress. The top cost an equivalent of about $50 and is of a more modern Indonesian design. I’ve found that Indonesia is more adventurous with their kebaya fashion as compared to Malaysia and Singapore, which are either Peranakan inspired (a historic cultural combination of Chinese and Malay) or purely Malay (which is usually a bit more conservative).
To date I’ve been able to wear the skirt multiple times, and thanks to mum who has a few different kebaya tops hanging around over the decades, I’ve been able to make use of those and pair them with the skirt too. Rather excitingly I’ve also found my Grana racerback silk tank matches quite well too as the mulberry colour is contained in the skirt, and the pairing of a very modern top with the sarong is still successful overall, if a little casual.
Since the sarong is full length, these outfits really only work when the event being attended is classed as formal, so I’ve only really worn any versions of the sarong kebaya to weddings so far. But the formality of the long skirt and the lushness of the batik design mean I always have something to hand when the situation calls for it, without needing to go out and invest in a ball gown that would make even an ugly sister jealous.
Have you manged to upcycle or re-use your wedding dress since your big day?