Summer has officially started in South East Asia and what better way to welcome Mr. Sunshine than to dress for the season – South East Asian Style? Wait, What? South East Asian Style? Yes! SEA Youth Style! Our region is blessed with various fabric-making techniques and designs (read: batik, sinhs, thai silk, tinalak, ikat) that are without a doubt world-class and summer is a good time to showcase these regional assets and help make them relevant up to the present times.
So SEA gals, heads up! Here are some tips for summer dressing that incorporates the unique cultural elements of our diverse region.
If you’re into boho fashion (think Sienna Miller, Zooey Deschanel), this look will suit you. A neutral-colored outfit worn with fun and playful accessories gives off a cool and relaxed vibe. Maxi printed skirts like this are very common in South East Asia. They usually come as wrap around skirts or as free-size garterized ones. They’re very chic, modest and versatile enough to be used for morning or evening events. The crochet bag adds texture to the overall bohemian look. I would personally wear this for an afternoon stroll or some window shopping with my friends.
Summer classes might be a mood-breaker to some but on the bright side, it gives you the liberty to dress up in comfortable and casual outfits. Outfits change moods, so opt for fun ethnic patterns and bright colors to beat summer class boredom. If you need to follow a dress code, always go for clothing made of lighter materials. And do not forget to accessorize! You can find cheap fancy accessories almost everywhere in the region. You’re already doing school work so might as well look good and feel good about yourself.
If road trips or outdoor concerts are your kind of thing, be sure to beat the heat with light clothes, cool sunglasses, a roomy bag and sunscreen (must-have for summer). Channel the inner rockstar/hipster in you by wearing white statement shirts (I <3 SEA) and rugged denim cut-offs. Backpacks are also very convenient when going hiking or even for long walks. Now there are available backpacks that are made from ethnic fabrics (like batik, tinalak, malong). They are cheap, very fashionable and quite sturdy too. Complement your look with a straw hat and colorful accessories. Straw hats are everywhere in the region and adds a rural vibe to your look.
Family reunions and get-togethers (even alumni homecomings) are also very common during the summer season. Make sure to stand out by rocking statement pieces that are attention grabbing for all the right reasons (not Lady Gaga-like please). This embroidered jacket exudes South East Asian glamour and sophistication. You can pair it with dark pants or shorts and nice heels but don’t go crazy on the accessories. Make your makeup and accessories minimal as the jacket is already pattern heavy.
Stuck in the metro? Don’t fret! You can always add subtle summer-y elements to your attire even when your miles away from the beach (going all out on your summer look is always an option to let your bosses know that you badly need a vacation). A loose white blouse paired with beige shorts (Capri pants are also good) may look uninteresting but it can be enhanced by accessories. Printed scarves can be worn as headscarves to add color to this monochromatic look. A woven bag also adds a nice touch of summer flair together with layered bangles (sold everywhere in SEA) and fresh water pearls. Walk tall by wearing neutral espadrille wedges that lengthen your legs and improve your posture.
Make your beach trips and sea shore strolls more romantic by wearing feminine outfits. A simple white flowy dress can be transformed by this fun statement necklace (you can layer your existing jewelry if you want to). A roomy textured bag (made of fibers like abaca, buri, pandan) is not only fashionable but can carry all your travel essentials and last-minute shopping purchases. Feeling chilly? A tie dye sarong cover-up (a sari shawl for more formal events) always comes in handy and also gives that nice wind effect when taking pictures.
There goes my summer dressing tips for SEA gals. They’re comfortable, stylish and very affordable. Now before you dive into your next summer adventure, show some love to our multi-faceted region – make a SEA summer fashion statement and wear it loud and proud. HAVE A HAPPY SUMMER!