By: Flow Quesada
The Barong Tagalog and Filipiniana are traditional Filipino clothing that have truly endured the test of time. They date back to the pre-colonial era, but they remain a significant part of Filipino history and culture today.
Although the barong and filipiniana were the Filipino’s everyday wear in the pre-colonial and Spanish colonization period, they are no longer as commonly used in modern times. Despite that, you can still have opportunities to wear the traditional Filipino clothing and be proud of your heritage.
So, when is it a great time to wear traditional Filipino clothing? And, what style would be suitable for certain affairs?
When you’re attending a wedding
When you’re going to attend a Filipino wedding -- whether it’s a friend or family member’s wedding, or even your own -- the dress code is one of the top concerns. What should you wear? Is there a theme or a color palette to follow?
As with any significant occasion, it ultimately depends on the couple it celebrates. When in doubt, wearing a barong or filipiniana is always the best option.
There’s a spectrum of styles and colors to choose from if you want to show a bit of creativity. But if you want to stick to the classics, go for a cream jusi Barong Tagalog paired with neutral or dark colored trousers.
Although barongs are usually preferred by men, that has significantly changed in today’s generation! There are also barong dresses for women who would like to attend a wedding wearing the traditional Filipino clothing.
Maria Clara dresses -- also sometimes referred to as filipiniana dress or traje de mestiza -- have become popular among brides who want to celebrate their Filipino heritage on their big day.
There are also Filipiniana wedding gowns today that have been given more modern and adventurous twists for brides who want to bridge tradition with current trends. Don’t forget the wedding veil to complete the look!
When you’re invited to a religious event
Besides weddings, wearing a barong or filipiniana would also be an excellent choice when attending other religious events such as a Christening.
You would want to dress appropriately for the occasion, but not as formal as what you’d wear to a wedding. You can get creative with your style and wear a colored Barong Tagalog for men or a vibrant filipiniana for women.
When you have a formal event
Formal events such as inaugurations and award dinners would, of course, have a formal dress code. Whether you’re a guest or the host -- or maybe even the guest-of-honor -- the best choice would be the classic, white or cream Barong Tagalog for men, or the barong dress or filipiniana terno for women.
If no official dress code was given, you can jazz up your outfit by sporting a black or colored barong instead.
When you’re going to a business conference
When you’re going to a formal business event or conference, you would want to blend in at such affairs. Thus, bright colored barongs and filipinianas are not recommended.
Opt for a high-quality, right fitting, white or cream Barong Tagalog with the traditional white camisa de chino as an under shirt. The filipiniana terno or barong dress would also be suitable for such events.
If the business event will be attended by international guests and delegates, that also makes it a great opportunity to show off your traditional Filipino clothing and heritage!
When you’re going to work
Thanks to innovation and the creativity of the Filipinos, wearing traditional Filipino clothing is not reserved for just religious occasions or formal events.
The office barongs for men have become the unofficial uniform of corporate employees. They’re made of jusi, jusilyn, linen, or gusot mayaman, which give a comfortable twist to the traditional Filipino clothing. Office barongs are often short-sleeved so they’re comfortable to wear even during hot and humid days.
When you just want to be stylish
Any day is always a great day to proudly wear something that reflects your Filipino heritage. Even if there’s no significant occasion, some people like to wear a camisa de chino or a modern, short-sleeved barongs to places such as the beach or to a casual family gathering.
The Filipino saya, bolero, and filipiniana terno have also gone through innovation to give the traditional Filipino clothing a modern twist. Today, they can be worn as a statement piece for casual outfits.
If you want to deviate from the traditional Filipino clothing, there are other ways to show your Filipino pride! Shirts and other apparel such as caps and hoodies with Filipino-inspired designs are making waves for being stylish outfits that you can wear on casual affairs, yet still be proud of the Philippine culture.
Beautiful traditional hand-embroidery and weaving are not limited to barongs and filipinianas. The intricate craftsmanship has also made its way to face masks. You can wear protective clothing while still staying stylish AND being proud of your Filipino heritage.
Barong tagalogs and filipinianas today are available in various styles and colors to suit different occasions. These traditional Filipino clothing have become staples in every Filipino's wardrobe.
They’re versatile and comfortable formal wear that make great outfits for several significant events. Not to mention the artistry that goes with every piece, to make them stunning, wearable works of art.
The Barong Tagalog perfectly balances elegance and simplicity with the intricacy of embroidery and weaving -- which makes the garment even more marvelous.
Some would even have their family name embroidered on the Barong Tagalog, making it even more valuable. They make perfect heirloom garments when properly maintained, and can be passed down to generations upon generations.
There have also been revivals of the traditional Filipino clothing to make them suitable for casual wear as well. It’s the unassuming demeanor and subtle elegance the barong exudes that make it timeless, yet leave enough room for innovation.
The barong may have gone through centuries of evolution and modifications, but no doubt that its historical importance remains up to this day.