Modernizing the Barong Might Mean Putting It on a Woman

Modernizing the Barong Tagalog Might Mean Putting It on a Woman


June 30, 2018
Read Time: 5 minutes

Leave it to the ladies to breathe new life into this traditional piece



The Barong Tagalog is a staple most men only unearth from their wardrobes for key events like weddings and formal ceremonies. Well, not anymore.


In Keeping with Tradition

Borrow the look straight from the boys. You can make small, subtle variations in styling by substituting all the elements of the traditional Barong Tagalog ensemble with women’s pieces: a white tank stop instead of the standard white undershirt and black cotton skinny leg trousers instead of basic cotton dress pants. Tie the look together with a classic strappy heeled sandal et voilà.


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Starter Pieces:

MANGO Satin Lace Top, P1,495

RAM JEWELRY Carrie ll Ring, P3,430

STEVE MADDEN Black Single-Strap Heeled Sandals, P3,950

RELATED: A Tribute to Outfit Repeaters (Who Are Actually Doing Fashion Right)


Suit Up

Always loved the idea of women’s tuxedo dressing? Consider this a local rendition and an alternative to those long gowns or cocktail dresses at your next formal event. Here’s your chance to whip out your power heel, too.



Get the Look:

RIVER ISLAND Oval Rose Gold 90’s Print Sunglasses, P849

DOROTHY PERKINS Small Fit Black Arrow Poly Trouser, P1,195

ZALORA Navy D’Orsay Faux Suede Pumps, P979


Layer Your Pieces

A Barong dress or Barong Tagalog with a loose fit and relaxed silhouette is your best bet if you’re thinking of incorporating the traditional garment into your everyday wardrobe. Wear it over wide-leg trousers and throw on an oversized blazer. You can offset all the baggy elements with sleek sock boots for balance.


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Key Pieces:

ALDO Therrawien Necklace, P524

VERO MODA Gilly Blazer, P4,749

JOYSTYX Liza Sunnies, P349

O’NEILL Hard Rock One Piece, P3,990

SUPRE Wide Leg Jersey Pants, P1,350

PUBLIC DESIRE Danger Sock Fit Ankle Boots, P1,919

RELATED: 5 Women on The Ultimate Power Pieces in Their Closets


A Dressier Option

Here’s a new take on power dressing: A Barong dress is versatile enough to take you from days taking care of business to nights out for events. It’s a piece you can easily play up or pare down with different makeup looks and hairstyles.


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Complete the Look:

MAYBELLINE Color Sensational Powder Matte Lipstick in “Rosewood Red”, P299

PAPILLON CLUTCH Double Elegant Clutch, P1,461.75

NINE WEST Tornaydo Pumps P2,979


Now, Dress It Down

The great thing about the Barong dress is that much like its traditional counterpart, it comes in all types of cuts, shapes and fabric blends. Barong dresses in cotton or linen (compared to the pricier piña or silk) can easily mimic a t-shirt dress. Dare to wear a Barong with sneakers? You can take style cues from Krystal Menez.


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Shop Sneakers:

PUMA Duel X-Strap En Pointe Women’s Sneakers, P4,550

DC Kalis Slim S Shoes, P3,470




Pair It with a Long Skirt

In a Barong and a full skirt, the Filipina is a head-turner. It goes well with all styles, too, so you can go ballgown one day, serpentine the next.



Another Take:

RED’S REVENGE Mismatch Pearl Bar Bell Dangle Earrings, P499

ELLYSAGE Paneled Maxi Skirt, P2,799

VINCE CAMUTO Tiernan Heeled Sandals, P2,629


Try Something with a Cape Sleeve

An excellent way to pay homage to tradition is to stick to its distinct, conventional foundations (in this case, material, collar style, buttons and embroidery) and then play around with the other elements built on it. Cape sleeves, in particular, are unconventional but classy, dramatic but fun.



Shop similar pieces at Kultura Filipino.


Rock the Peek-A-Boo Bra

All that see-through material is an invitation to push the boundaries a little and have more fun with your style choices. Undershirts and tank tops are pretty predictable. Why not spin for a cute bralette?


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Style Guide:

SEEK THE UNIQ Hoja Pequeña Earrings, P2,500

SOMURA Black Bralette, P399

NAMI Ghost Ring Three-Piece Set, P1,790


What About a Bow Tie Sleeve?

Young Filipino designers, especially those with a storied history of working with silk, piña and other indigenous fabric, know how to marry the traditional with the modern better than anyone else. Cebu-based designer Hanz Coquilla, who is well-known in the Philippine pageant circle for his stunning ternos, is just one of them. If you’re looking to invest in a custom Barong Tagalog, look no further.


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Shop made-to-order Barong Tagalog styles by Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura.


RELATED: Style Tips of the Month from Actual Fashion Stylists



Art Alexandra Lara

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