Looking for a kebaya blouse or a sarong...or both? Read my list of must-go places to pick up the best of Peranakan fashion in Singapore. Make sure you have a solid breakfast - there's so much to try on!
If you're just a kebaya beginner, or perhaps want to ease yourself into the world of batik and embroidery, I recommend that you chat to Della Ong of Little Nyonya Batik. Della's friendly and calming personality will quickly put you at ease as you check out her tastefully decorated boutique near Newton. Della sells rayon sarongs, which have a wonderful drape and are extremely flattering. She has a range of entry level and mid level kebaya, as well as ready-to-wear sarong and a vivid range of men's batik shirts. By appointment only or shop online.
Next stop - East Coast Road at Katong! Rumah Kim Choo is the place for the widest selection of kebaya - many of them created by fashion designer and boutique manager Raymond Wong. A man of discerning taste, Raymond specialises in custom made kebaya and can even incorporate Swarovski crystals and beads. Raymond also offers lessons in beading so you can create your own slippers or a purse - sure to be a family heirloom in the making!
Rumah Bee Bee is just next door to Kim Choo, so you can also see their offerings. They also have beautiful belts and kersosong rentai (three-brooch pins) to help keep everything in place...I especially love the Peranakan tiles on the front of their shophouse - another favourite topic of mine!
There are so many places to jalan jalan...(Malay for 'taking a stroll'), so you may well have to make a separate visit to another great place in Singapore - Arab Street. This part of town is also filled with yummy food and historical architectures.
Kiah's Gallery is where like to visit first. It's always lovely to chat with the wonderful Madam Yati Hairi, who is always incredibility patient when I try the whole shop on! She also sells batik clothing for men and women, and can tailor-make to your needs.
Next is Toko Aljunied on 91 Arab Street. Aside from sarongs, you can also buy a kebaya blouse to match. They have a gorgeous array of glamorous things - I recently bought here some kerosang rentai (attached three brooch set to secure the kebaya together). They also sell some nice batik table runners and napkins.
Grandma came to visit recently and bought my little nyonya her first sarong kebaya. I think my little girl was pretty pleased!
If you're after something cheap and cheerful, Habib has lots of nice sarongs. I like to buy ones from here to decorate my apartment. The children end up tearing them off the sofa anyway and cuddling up with them (the designer look only lasts so long).
Shopping is hungry work - head to Zam Zam's and something to keep your strength up! There's always roomy baju dresses to be bought nearby if you pig out on too much murtabak, prata and kueh sweets! I've got a couple that I run down to my local market in I must admit!