What Are Some Traditional Filipino Dress Styles?


Quick Answer

Because the Philippines is an archipelago of thousands of small islands that house a wide variety of different tribal cultures, there are many different styles of traditional Filipino dress for both men and women; two of the most notable traditional garments are the terno, a dress worn by women, and the barong tagalog, a tunic-like shirt worn by men. Though most Filipinos wear standard modern clothing in daily life, certain special occasions and formal events see residents of this nation wear these and other traditional garments. Women often wear a modernized version of the terno popularized by Imelda Marcos in the 1970s and '80s.

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Full Answer

The modern terno looks like an evening gown, but it has several structural elements that mimic the traditional terno. One of the most iconic features of the traditional Filipino terno is its butterfly sleeves. The traditional version of the garment also has a long, loose skirt in an A-line shape; both of these features are represented in the modernized version.

The terno's design was heavily influenced by invading colonial forces, including Spain. Though the barong tagalog dates back to pre-colonial times, it too was likely influenced by occupying colonizers. For example, the sheer nature of the garment may be attributed to the fact that Spanish colonizers wanted to be able to ensure that Filipino people were not carrying concealed weapons.

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