No more than a decade ago, the barong Tagalog was a staple at the workplace and in formal events. But over the years, men have favored the suit, leaving the the traditional Filipino garment to collect dust in their closets.
While the barong has earned a rep for being old-fashioned and scratchy, when worn right, it is comparable to the suit in terms of style and sophistication. “The barong Tagalog has gone through transformations in fashion. To wear the barong means having a sense of patriotism and elegance with a touch of class,” says Roland Magalang, executive vice president of men’s tailoring shop Bergamo.
Here, the expert shares a few tips on how to wear the barong to earn serious style points.
1| Always Look For Quality
Pure piña fabric is still highly preferred for formal barong Tagalog shirts. But if you’re wearing a barong to the office, Roland advises to choose breathable yet sturdy fabrics such as linen or cotton. “A huge no to polyester. Additionally, jusi-silk and piña-silk office barong shirts have now been recently accepted in the workplace, but only go for the short-sleeved versions should you go this route,” he says.
2| Go For A Slimmer Silhouette
Gone are the days of loose and ill-fitting barongs that look lousy and sloppy. As Roland says, “Today’s bespoke barong Tagalog is dapper and slimmer in cut, maintaining a classic design but with a modern twist.”
3| Stick To A Simple And Classic Design
For Roland, you don’t need much to nail a classic and elegant look. “The keyword there is simplicity. The barong Tagalog doesn’t need much embellishment. Stick to intricate, tone-on-tone designs and avoid heavy and extravagant embroidery.”
4| Pick Muted Colors
While the formal barong Tagalog is best seen in its natural color, the office barong has slightly more range. As Roland recommends, “For the everyday barong, stick to muted, earthy colors and avoid loud, bright hues.”
5| Don’t Forget The Camisa De Chino
The barong Tagalog, by nature, is meant to be worn in tropical weather. It follows that the camisa de chino worn underneath should be lightweight and breathable. Go for a long-sleeved camisa de chino for a streamlined look—a short-sleeved one shows your arms and looks tacky. Bergamo makes extra-fine cotton camisa de chino shirts to pair with a piña barong Tagalog. For the polo barong, choose an undershirt that looks the least obvious and will not peek out from underneath the barong. Also, avoid tank tops.