For centuries, the Barong Tagalog has been the signature traditional outfit of Filipino men. But time has passed, and this national attire has already evolved.
It has always been the Barong Tagalog for men and Baro’t Saya for women in the past. However, the current generation values self-expression and freedom in all aspects of their life. Just as how this traditional clothing speaks a lot about the Philippines’ history, the current trend with the barong also tells the present era’s story. And if there is something that people nowadays have been giving more significance to than in past generations, it would be diversity and acceptance.
(Barong for women being paraded | Source)
How the Barong Tagalog Has Evolved
Many Filipinos grew up observing how the Barong Tagalog is only worn by men, and the new variation for the opposite gender is perhaps the latest major modification. Even so, the standard barong, which you know and have seen for years, has also bypassed various generations, and it has been altered countlessly.
(A modern barong for women | Source)
Fashion evolves following current circumstances
The Barong Tagalog expresses a lot about the Philippines’ history, especially during the Spanish colonial era. Back then, the attire was heavily influenced by the privileged and educated men in the society called the ilustrados. Therefore, the clothing was tailored to make the wearer look sophisticated.
However, as years passed by, the design has continuously changed with the instigation of other foreigners. When the country reclaimed its freedom from the colonizers, the barong followed a flamboyant style, and thus, diverse colors and adornments were added. And more recently, barongs are more reserved in appearance, as they are usually worn in official and formal events.
Currently, the traditional attire continues to revolutionize as it persists in matching the modern generation’s situation. People no longer aim for freedom from the invaders but from the society itself, precisely its old customs that impose individuals to conform to the image expected from them. And one of the best examples is how women are scorned when they wear outfits that are unladylike in the public’s eyes.
(Numerous women are wearing barong outfits | Source)
Historical fashion also adapts to survive
In every country, the culture is passed on by manifesting them in the way of living. That way, the traditions are not recalled by memory but by experience, which is far more effective. The Barong Tagalog is the Philippines’ national costume, and it plays a significant role in their past. Therefore, its legacy shall never fade away for years, or else a part of the Filipino’s identity will also vanish. That is why even if the attire’s distinguishing characteristics remain, the presentation and design should adapt to the current trends for the barong itself to not be forgotten.
The colors and the embroidered patterns are now more diverse in order to appeal to all ages. Despite so, designers still make sure to reflect the country’s history in the designs so that its cultural significance can still be preserved. In that way, when the trends change in the future, barongs can be modified again while still retaining the national attire’s distinctive traits.
(A colored barong dress with intricate embroideries | Source)
Why the Barong for Women Became a Trend
Now that you know that the barong isn’t how it used to be, it is time to find out what led to the change in the trends. The modernizations and alterations in the design included the changes to make it suitable for ladies to wear. In the present, the barong for women is no longer ridiculed for its nonconformity but praised for its unique and all-embracing approach to traditional fashion.
(A barong dress with floral patterns | Source )
Current generation break gender norms
Long gone are the days when women were restricted to wear only skirts. Now, androgynous fashion is a trend, and society is gradually becoming open to people wearing clothing for self-expression.
The traditional gender roles have been the primary influence of fashion for years in all parts of the globe, and the same goes for the Philippines. It cannot be denied that there is a prejudice for women wearing clothes that doesn’t conform to society’s standards and preferences. However, the current generation is bolder in standing up to these restraints and is instead more driven to try out unconventional styles.
(Barongs being worn by both genders | Source )
Women wear barong for self-expression
Conservatism is the accepted norm, and while there are people who have reserved tastes, not everyone is the same. Each individual has unique preferences and circumstances that they are comfortable with, which brings the discussion to expressing identities. And one of the best ways to display self-expression is through fashion.
As every aspect in the life of the people in the current generation gradually adapts to the increasing acceptance of diversity, fashion also does the same thing. That comprises modern garments, as well as traditional, including the Barong Tagalog.
( A short-sleeved crop top barong for women | Source )
The Barong Tagalog has characterized the Filipino’s past, and it is now time to imprint this generation’s marks on the traditional fashion statement. Women’s national clothing is no longer restricted to Baro’t Saya and Traje de Mestiza or the Maria Clara Filipiniana. With the new wave of barong for ladies, they are given more choices to flaunt their culture, freedom, and identity.