Jun 25, 2019

How Traditional Baro't Saya Filipiniana Dresses Have Changed for the Modern Age

Discover what Filipinos considered as fashion hundreds of years ago.

With August days drawing nearer and nearer, students, little children, and parents are probably racking their heads for what to wear during our Buwan ng Wika. It must be because of elementary school contests or requirements, but most Filipinos have donned on traditional-inspired dresses and consider August as the month that we have to wear them.

While the tradition of wearing Filipiniana during August may fade as we grow older, the uniqueness, authenticity, and timelessness of our traditional outfits are things that will always be etched in our culture. You see people cheering on and discussing Philippine representatives for beauty pageants and looking forward to what type of twist she'll add in her national costume. Seeing our senators in the Barong Tagalog is also a way of preserving our culture.

The style of the actual wide-sleeved traditional dresses may be different from what it used to be before, slight variations and changes made to cope up with the recent trend of comfort and individuality - and also with our country's hot weather - of the era. So, aren't you curious as to how our Filipinianas actually looked like before those slight changes?

1. Mestiza Dress or Terno

Before

Now

Characterized by huge sleeves that are likened to fans, these sleeves that we consider 'huge' today are actually quite smaller than what it used to be four hundred years ago. The traditional dress' sleeves flare a bit larger and end just right near our elbows - its huge frame almost becoming the size of the top itself. It was most probably due to how the wide sleeves could hinder some movements that it is now lessened a bit to end as a short-sleeved dress and the fan a bit smaller.

The materials like pina fiber from before is also now replaced with silk cloth, while pearls and sequins are what most people use to embroider a bit of style to the dress, just like on this modern white dress. Filipinas today have paired the wide-sleeved top with a body-hugging bottom, while some also opt for a flared out skirt. The wide sleeves were also added to jackets, and some daily office tops that can easily be paired with slacks or pencil skirts.

2. Maria Clara Dress

Before

Now

Popularized by Jose Rizal's novel, Noli Me Tangere, and one of its characters who wore it, the Maria Clara dress has its trademark of the top that is composed of a camisa and a panuelo, and a bottom skirt from a saya and a tapis. The camisa is actually a long-sleeved blouse made of pina fiber and is a bit see-through, but the real signature of the Maria Clara dress is the scarf which is worn over the long-sleeved camisa.

Although it was the fashion trend from a few hundred years ago, what most fashionistas model after the Maria Clara styled dress is now mostly just a scarf added over a normal outfit - but this still shows the regalness of Filipino traditional fashion. The Maria Clara is also another choice for our female officials in the government aside from the fan-sleeved Filipiniana, which we can usually see them wearing.

The Modern Trend

At the Miss Universe pageants every year, we see all the glamour of the Filipiniana dresses designed by Filipino stylists as they have become more modernized. Most of the dresses are adorned with embroideries with a hip-hugging style and floor-length saya. There's nothing like a new dress that will make our country's representative shine for its elegance.

While Filipiniana dresses are usually worn at big events and pageants, some casual designs were also created to suit everyone else. These come in handy for semi-formal parties, business events, weddings or dinners. Wearing one will surely make you feel simply dignified, trendy, casual and cozy because you're showing a part of your Filipino soul.

Here are some Filipino-inspired dresses you can check now. With an incredible sense of detailing, you'll get hooked on every piece.

VINTA Gallery Bouclé Terno USD 350 (approx. PHP 18,000)

VINTA Gallery CROP BARONG USD 95 (approx. PHP 5,000)

Kultura Raffaella Ladies Silk Cocoon Barong PHP 3499.75

Barong Warehouse Made-To-Order - Filipiniana Two-layer Gown 002 PHP 7187.05

Barongs R Us Filipiniana Gown #6017 USD 430 (approx. PHP 22,000)