From beachy cover-ups to cool party dresses, no garment has more versatility and vivacious style than the sarong. Easy breezy, and forever flowing, these often bright and beautiful fabrics can be found in many different cultures and have been around since ancient times. The history of the sarong can be traced back to Java in Indonesia. What started as a simple cloth wrapped around the body evolved to host prints and motifs that captured the stories and heritage of the culture. Many cultures also choose to wear the sarong, and the name itself comes from the Malay word for sheath. It can also be known in Southeast Asia as a surong, and in India, you may hear it called a Dhoti or, in Africa - a Kanga. Today, the sarong or similar style of the garment can be found across the globe and is always a firm favorite item to stash in your vacation bag. Whether you are looking for an easy-to-wear sarong for swimwear cover-up or want to wear it maxi skirt style or as a beach dress, we have tons of sarong options on how to style your favorite swathe of fabric.
Why Wear a Surong?
There are many reasons why sarongs are the perfect solution when it comes to style, versatility, and even for helping keep covered in the sunshine. Sarongs can be used for a variety of reasons - whether you want to wear them in lieu of beach towels or if you are looking for something cool and easy to throw on in the sweet summer months, there's always room for a sarong. Here are some of the popular reasons why people choose to wear their favorite sarong.
Versatility and convenience
One of the best reasons to wear sarongs is because they are truly a convenient bit of kit and are highly versatile to boot. As they come crafted from oversized swathes of material, you can alter them to suit whatever design you are looking for. From mini skirts to maxi skirts, dresses, and even a hair scarf - there are endless possibilities when wearing a sarong. As a beach accessory, a sarong is also an amazing choice as it's lightweight, easy to pack, often quick to dry, and can double as a picnic blanket.
Fashion and style
Sarongs are also a truly stylish choice when it comes to casual wear. A wide variety of colors, prints, and motifs - not to mention knot styles to shift their shape, drape, and design to suit the occasion or body type - all of these facts make sarongs a fabulous choice.
Some cultures will also choose to wear a sarong for reasons around modesty or to cover up in hot and humid climates. The lightweight nature and the swath of fabric wrapped around you can keep harmful UV rays at bay all while keeping the body cool as the sarong drapes rather than clings.
How to Choose the Right Surong
Finding the right sarong depends on many factors - including why you are buying a sarong and what you want to do with it. Consider first the size and shape of your sarong in comparison to your own body shape. You want to make sure you have enough material without getting drowned out. Those who are petite may want to opt for a shorter sarong that will help balance their frame. However, as sarongs can be tied and knotted, and wrapped, you don't need to get too caught up in the exact right size.
Another option to consider is the color and pattern you want. Beach vacays call for sarongs or beach wraps with playful, colorful prints and shades that suit the sand, sea, and sun vibe. For those wanting a more versatile sarong to wear for more formal occasions or to dress it up away from the beach - pastels, neutrals, and the right accessories can work a treat.
The material also matters in your sarong style - for hot countries - cotton sarongs, bamboo sarongs, and other lightweight materials can work as a treat when it comes to temperature control. Natural fibers are always a good choice as they are usually better equipped for welcoming air circulation. Silk and satin are also smooth materials that may also be a beautiful choice for those wanting a more elegant finish to their sarong.
Different Ways to Wrap a surong
There are many different ways to wrap sarongs, and whether you are looking for a quick cover-up on the beach or at the pool or seeking sarong styling for a night out on the town - here are some of the different ways you can wrap your sarong.
The Basic Wrap
- Bring the sarong behind your back
- Hold the top edge at your waist
- Take the two corners and tie in a basic knot on your hip
The Halter Dress
- Bring the sarong around your back
- Hold it so the two ends of the fabric are under your arms
- Wrap each end across the front of your chest, and each end meets behind your neck
- Tie a double knot to hold it secure.
The Side-Slit Skirt
- Wrap the sarong around your hip
- Tie an oversized knot where the fabric meets on the other hip
- If you want a shorter skirt, you can fold your sarong into a smaller triangle before wrapping it around your hips.
The One-Shoulder Dress
- Wrap the sarong around your back and loop it under one arm.
- Tie the ends in a double knot above the other shoulder.
- Take the excess material around your waist and knot it at your side.
The Scarf Wrap
- Fold the sarong in a diagonal half so it forms a triangle
- Hold the sarong close to your chest and knot together at the nape of your neck
Behind the back
- Wrap the sarong around you in the basic wrap style.
- Take the two corners and tie a knot behind your neck.
- Take the other two corners around your waist and tie a knot at the bottom of the back.
Styling Tips for Surongs
Styling your sarong is sure to be simple. As one of the most versatile garments out there, you can easily dress it up or down depending on the occasion. Sarongs are often called on to be go-to vacation pieces - thrown on over swimwear or used as a wrap skirt on the beach. But you can also wear tubular sarongs or halter sarongs as an elegant beach dress or on warm summer nights with the right accessories. Of course - comfortable beach style calls for your sarong to be paired with sandals and minimal fuss. If you want to elevate your perfect beach look - wedges, strappy sandals, or even espadrilles will work with your sarong. You can also look for statement jewelry - big hoops or women's earrings, crystal necklaces, gemstone jewelry, etc. to add another dimension.
Sarongs don't have to be stand-alone when it comes to wearing them. Experiment with layering your sarong. You can wear it over swimwear, of course, but then also over tank tops or under cropped denim jackets. If you have a bold print you love, wear your bright sarong over leggings or tie it as a tubular top, or shoulderless wrap over harem pants for a hippy vibe. You can also pair sarong skirts with eastern womens tops for a coherent look.
In terms of color and style, sarongs make for a practical beach accessory but can also stay stylish. Look for contrasting bold block colors when pairing with swimwear, or opt for softer pastel shades or neutrals for a more balanced look.
The Surong as a Shawl or Head Wrap
Sarongs can also be used as a shawl thrown casually over the shoulders. This look works wonders when it comes to wearing a dress on a night out and wanting something lightweight to keep the evening chill off. In this case, a classy neutral-colored sarong would keep things simple, or you can look for a fringed sarong or sheer sarong for a femme edge.
Get creative with your sarong and tie it as a head wrap. There are many ways you can wrap it around your head - either by tying it in turban fashion, or if you have a small square sarong, you can twist it into a headband or use it to tie up your ponytail if you have long hair.
Side Slit Dress
The side slit dress is one of the most popular methods for that beautiful beach wardrobe. Here's how to nail it:
- Take the sarong behind your back with the top edges placed under your arms
- Meet the two top corners at the front of your body (above the bust)
- Cross both corners over your chest and tie a middle knot.
- Gather the excess material on one side of your waist and also knot here.
- You can adjust the length and fit by rolling or folding the fabric, and you can secure the dress with a butterfly clip or safety pin.
Factors to Consider When Tying a Sarong
When choosing how to tie your sarong, you may want to take body type into consideration. Of course, tie it however you feel comfortable and in whichever style you please, but if you are looking for ways to accentuate certain body types, these tips could help.
- Pear shape - tie a side knot at the waist to cinch in the waist and draw attention to beautiful curves.
- Apple shape - the halter neck tie can elongate the upper body and bring a balanced silhouette.
- Rectangle shape - gathering excess fabric at the waist and creating an oversized knot can bring volume into your shape.
When dealing with excess fabric in your sarong, you can experiment with knots. Double knots, oversized knots, and even multiple knots can help to deal with excess fabric, and draping and folding the fabric can keep a sleeker appearance.
Left Shoulder or Right Shoulder?
You can tie your sarong either on the left shoulder or the right shoulder, depending on your personal preference. Some cultures believe that draping the sarong over your right shoulder signifies festivities or a celebration.
Beach Vacation or Casual Look?
Beach lovers will adore the sarong, especially when wanting an easy breezy coverup from the sun or when padding from street to sand to sea. A wrap-style skirt is a great option for your beach vacation - paired with a floppy hat and sandals. For a casual look, the halter dress wrap or side split dress paired with a thin belt or waist tie will accentuate that gorgeous goddess look.
Surongs for Men
While synonymous with women's fashion and real beach wear, sarongs can also be worn by men and are a common occurrence in many male wardrobes across a multitude of cultures. In Southeast Asia and especially Indonesia, batik fabric sarongs are often worn by men. Some cultures in Malaysia also wear sarongs paired with a traditional shirt called a Baju Melayu. Some countries in the middle east also wear sarong-style fabrics (especially in Oman and Yemen).
Caring for Your Surong
Caring for your sarong will depend on the material, so always be sure to read the care instructions as your first point of call. One of the best ways to wash your sarong is through handwashing, and again - depending on what dye has been used in creating your sarong, you may want to keep the water cold. Always try and avoid harsh chemicals and instead use a tiny bit of mild dish soap to remove dirt. Let your sarong air-dry away from direct sunlight, as this may cause the coloring to fade.
Where to Buy a Surong
There are many places to buy sarongs and many different styles to choose from. One of the most popular places to find an amazing array of surongs can be when online shopping. As you don't need to try a sarong on, you have the freedom to scour the world wide web until you find a company and a color that you love. Remember to consider material, length, and width, and also to think about finding online retailers or small-scale businesses whose values align with yours.
Sarongs are so much more than a stylish piece to pack for the beach. Rich with cultural relevance, ever versatile, and able to be worn and celebrated in numerous ways, everyone needs a sarong in their life. Play around with wraps and simple knots, and let your sarong style run wild.
What is the point of a sarong?
Sarongs can be used for a multitude of reasons. You can wear them as dresses, skirts, scarves, and tops, or you can use them as beach blankets, cover-ups, towels, sun protectors, and more.
Why do girls wear sarong?
Girls wear sarongs for many reasons. Sarongs are one of the most versatile and fashionable choices you have. By tying knots in different ways, you can transform your sarong into a long tie skirt, mini skirt, sarong dress, and more. They are also breathable and breezy and keep you covered from the sun.
Which country is famous for sarong?
Many countries and cultures utilize the sarong, but Indonesia is one of the most famous for its different styles of sarong for different ethnic cultures. You can also find sarongs in countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Can you get a sarong wet?
Yes, you can get a sarong wet without problems usually - which is why many people pack a sarong in their beach bag. Depending on the material, your sarong may take some time to dry and may not be as absorbent as a towel, but water shouldn't damage it.