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The city of Jakarta and its native Betawi culture is famous for many things from ondel-ondel puppets to Kerak Telor snack and tanjidor music. Kebaya kerancang, also known as kebaya encim, is the culture’s indigenous clothing that is seeing a resurgence in popularity among youths due to its versatility and colourful motifs. 

Kebaya encim is an assimilation between Betawi’s love of vibrant colours and the Chinese’s creation of intricate patterns. In Peranakan context, the word “encim” means a married woman, and they often donned the clothing to beat the tropical heat. The amalgamation is unique in its pointed and embroidered front hem with lots of little holes as part of the lace design, and is worn with vibrant-coloured batik sarong or songket.

Today, kebaya encim is an essential part of one’s cultural identity that has been adapted to modern times. Due to its breathable nature, the young generation love to mix it with popular contemporary accessories or even pair it with jeans. To make sure it’s suitable to the event’s mood and to show respect to the occasion, Mien R. Uno has the TOPP rule, which stands for time, occasion, place and personality. “The way you dress should reflect your taste, style and personality,” she said. “For example, if you’re into minimalist style, add one or two bold accessories to make a statement and keep the rest of your look simple.”

Many stores now sell kebaya encim and the stalls at Thamrin City and Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta have many surprises to be found and often are budget-friendly. Uno refers to the Mitra Hadiprana Boutique Mall or Didiet Maulana’s for the high-end ones made with different fine materials and exquisite details.