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Batik | © artethgray/Flickr
Batik | © artethgray/Flickr

How to Wear Batik, Indonesia's Traditional Fabric

Picture of Edira Putri
Updated: 5 September 2017

Tourists may know batik as a textile adorned with exquisite patterns. But for locals, batik is a generations-old craft and tradition cherished in everyday life. Many Indonesians wear batik as a prized fashion item for formal and casual occasions, not only out of respect, but also because it’s beautiful and versatile. Here’s how you can wear batik, Indonesia’s traditional fabric.

Batik Outerwear

Batik makes a great layer, thanks to its lively patterns. From formal blazer to laidback kimono cut, you can fancy a fashionable outerwear from your traditional batik fabric. Wear it over tank tops or plain shirts.

Batik Shawl

Simply wrap the fabric over a plain dress or top to make your outfit pop with vibrant colors and patterns. The ethnic feel will instantly transform a simple outfit into a more charming look with calming boho feels. You can wrap the fabric on your back with both ends hanging in front of your body, or tie the ends in front of your chest or stomach.

Batik Skirt

You can sew a pretty batik skirt or simply wrap the traditional cloth around your waist, twist it on the side, and tuck the end to your waist or hook some safety pins to put it together. Once you master the art of wrapping batik cloth on your waist, you can experiment with different lengths, layers, and asymmetry.

Batik and traditional kebaya top

The traditional kebaya top is probably batik’s most natural match. Kebaya is a traditional blouse from ancient Java, with ornate lace or embroidery. It is usually combined with long batik skirt or wrap.

Batik couple attire

Batik’s charm doesn’t only look good on women. You can make a man’s shirt and a dress or skirt with the same batik cloth to make a matching outfit for couples, or even for the whole family.

Batik Accessories

Beyond fabric and clothing, you can also find the traditional pattern in accessories —bangle, necklace, clutch, and more. You can wear batik accessories with modern attire as a statement item.

Still in the spirit of Dirgahayu Indonesia, we love this Kirana & Morocco clutch from @senimankain 💕 (📷: @senimankain)

A post shared by Indonesia Fashion & Style (@indonesiaonstyle) on

Batik Dress

The traditional fabric is versatile enough to be sewn into all kinds of dresses, from maxi to mini and everything in between. With a minimalist and trendy design, the traditional batik can look much more modern, which is perfect for formal or even casual occasions. The lively colors of batik are also ideal to make avant-garde, extravagant dresses for your special event.

Dressed up in @batiktjetje ❤️🖤💚 #potd #ootd #batiktjetje #batikdress #womencollection

A post shared by Stephanie Gunawan (@stephaniegunawan2310) on

Batik boho pants

The ethnic pattern of batik gives it a calming feel that makes it a perfect material for boho pants. You can make or buy batik loose pants that are not only comfortable, but also pretty charming. If you pair the pants with a semi-formal top and heels, you can even get a formal look. That’s how versatile batik is.

Batik on denim

Some people are reluctant that batik can be an everyday casual outfit. If you have a simple batik top, try matching it with a denim pants for a casual look. It works!

Batik x Black

Black is probably the safest color to mix with any kind of batik pattern. If you’re not sure how to match your vibrant, colorful batik, simply pick a black counterpart and you’ll never go wrong. Plus, it looks super elegant.