The outfit known as baju kurung, worn by both Malay men and women, was originally called Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga. The baju kurung’s namesake was a place called Teluk Belanga, located in what was known then as the Republic of Singapore. It is also called Baju Kurung Johor and is used as a template for other subsequent baju kurungs.
The traditional Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga is worn with the hemline well below the knee. The neckline is round with a 5 inch vertical slit at the front and finished in herringbone stitching. The baju has one patch pocket placed on the left hand side. This addition is said to be influenced by traders from India. Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga for women is worn with kain sarung that is tied to form pleats on either side.
Another baju kurung that emerged around the year 1945 was the Baju Kurung Cekak Musang. This baju shares the same cutting as the original baju kurung except for its collar. This style of baju kurung has the stylish Mandarin-inspired collar, a vertical two finger breadth collar. This prominent collar comes with buttons ranging from three to five.
The male equivalent of Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga has a shorter hemline, stopping at mid-thigh. It also has three sewn in pockets; one over the left chest and the other two being placed at the bottom of the baju. Malay men would wear this baju kurung with trousers that are typically wider at the top and a short sarung wrapped around the hips known as kain samping.
The male Baju Kurung Cekak Musang is now known as the Baju Melayu. It has a shorter hemline than the female baju kurung but shares the distinctive collar. The collar comes with five buttons known as dress studs or kancing. This baju kurung is worn with Western-style trousers. For a more polished look, the Baju Melayu is also worn with kain samping. Nowadays, the kain samping is usually made out of songket instead of kain sarung.
Reference: 1. Rupa & Gaya Busana Melayu Edisi Kedua – Azah Aziz. 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baju_Melayu 3. http://www.thestar.com.my/travel/malaysia/2012/08/17/baju-kurung-still-a-popular-choice-for-many/