The Timeless Sarong: A Journey Through Style and Function


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Sarong is a versatile, elegant piece of fabric that transcends culture and time. Our journey today takes us into the heart of this fascinating attire, its multiplicity of uses, and its significance across the globe. Let’s step into the world of the sarong, uncover its unique appeal, and see what top fashion designers think about this garment. 

What is a sarong?

A Sarong is a piece of cloth that is worn wrapped around the body, usually tucked at the waist or under the armpits. This versatile garment can be worn by both men and women.

The sarong is a traditional garment for many places across the globe, it is a common belief that its roots are found in Southeast Asia, but it seems like it would be difficult to trace the exact origin of this simple garment, as so many cultures have their own variations of it.

The sarong is fully adapted to Western fashion as a unique and handy piece of clothing, mainly used as a stylish and practical cover-up at the beach. 

It can be draped around the waist over a swimsuit or fashioned into a dress, skirt, or other types of attire. 

Regardless of how it is worn, the sarong is known for its comfort, ease of wear, and adaptability to different styles and settings

are sarongs in style in 2023

Are Sarongs in Style in 2023?

Last year Vogue announced that Sarong is going beyond the beach into the city, and the news is that for summer 2023, this trend will conquer new summits. 

The once-traditional garment has spread with new interpretations as many designers had at least one version of the sarong in their collection.

Exploring the runways, you can easily find inspiration for magnificent ways to style with Sarong on the beach, and off.  

Michael Kors took the resort style to its most classic chic with his highly tailored collection, taking evening & beach wear combinations to the most elegant edge of comfort. You’ll find items like sarong skirts in different lengths and styles as part of a tailored suit that is worn on top of a swimming suit, and the match is irresistible. Summer never looked that fine!

Altuzarra’s RTW spring-summer 2023 in New York gave new interpretations to the sarong skirts with familiar sarong-style motifs and colors. These brilliant outfits of 2 or 3 pieces with vacational prints make an excellent meticulous summer outfit.

Dsquared2 made justice by officially bringing the sarong back to men in the most exquisite way and a fantastic mix-match of colors & themes. If I had to choose this summer’s best fresh look for men, with no doubts, I would choose this collection. A must-see! 

We can’t talk about Sarong’s fashion without talking about it as beachwear. The obvious place to wear sarongs seems to take it to extreme minimalism this year. You’ll find lingerie-inspired beach outfits with super sheer sarongs, shimmer sarongs, and crochet sarongs, sometimes with huge holes. We can sum it up as the uncovering cover.

But with sarongs, you always have multiple styles in style, and with the abundance of patterns, colors, sizes, and styles of the latest collections, you can easily find the exact match that works for you. Looking at solid, bright-colored prints, romantic prints, big items or tiny, all designs and cuts, I see them all amazingly charming. 

It seems that with a sarong, it’s hard to go wrong!

yellow beach sarong

What is a Sarong Used For?

The sarong has soooo many uses, depending on the culture and context in which it’s worn. Let’s explore some of them:

The Traditional Use

In Southeast Asia, India, the Pacific Islands, the Malay Archipelago, (and many other places), sarongs are often used as regular everyday clothing. They can be worn by both men and women and are appreciated for their comfort and versatility. They fit the warm weather perfectly, they protect from the mighty sun, and they’re super easy to wear and take off.

The Ultimate Beachwear

Wearing a sarong when you go to the beach is a fun and easy way to style up with the best comfort. The sarong provides a quick and easy wrap to cover your swimsuit when you’re not in the water. Depending on the size of your sarong, you might even be able to use it as a beach mat to lie on.

Versatile Fashion

My favorite? Probably… (:

Sarongs can also be transformed into various types of clothing. With different ways of wrapping and tying, they can become dresses, skirts, shawls, head wraps, and more!

Ceremonial Use

In certain cultures, like Sri Lanka and Kerala, sarongs are often worn during special ceremonies or events. In Lampung, Indonesia, the Tapis (a type of sarong) was among the most luxurious textiles worn by the elite women during rites such as female initiations and weddings. 

Modesty Cloth

One of the things I really love about sarongs is that (most of them) are easy to carry and can be used for modesty purposes whenever you need it, making it a true travel essential.
The same holds true for a shawl, which I found to be really helpful while traveling in Asia.

Baby Cradle

In Singapore, many people use a Yao Lan, a baby hammock sarong. But be careful – lots of info online warns against leaving babies unattended in a Yao Lan, and some even say that it’s bad for child development. You can learn more about it here, and here.


In Southeast Asia, some sarongs are used as hammocks, but it really depends on the type of sarong you’re using. If you’ll use your light beach sarong as a hammock, you might ruin it and end up on the floor 😂.


A sarong can be quickly turned into a bag. Just tie the opposite ends together, and you have a makeshift carrier for your items. But remember, a sarong bag’s strength depends on the sarong’s quality and type. So, keep it’s better to keep the load light to avoid any damage. From clothing to bag, a sarong’s versatility never ceases to amaze!

Home Decor

Some people also use sarongs as a decorative item in the home, such as a tablecloth, wall hanging, or furniture cover.

What is Another Name for a Sarong?

The first trace of the term ‘Sarong’ was used in 1834, referring to the skirt-like garment of the Malay. According to, Arab & Indian merchant sailors brought the sarong to the Indonesian archipelago. But just like its brother, the shawl, it seems like the sarong has many interpretations and variations all across the world.

The term “sarong” originates from the Malay word “sarung” which means “sheath” or “cover”. However, as this garment is popular in so MANY places in the world in one form or another, it is naturally known by plenty of names across different cultures and regions.
Here are just a few examples:

  • “Pareo” or “Pareu” in Tahiti and other parts of Polynesia.
  • “Lava-lava” in Samoa and other parts of Polynesia.
  • “Kanga” in East Africa.
  • “Mundu” in Kerala, India.
  • “Saram” in Tamil.
  • “Longyi” or “Longi” in India and Myanmar.
  • “Pha Nung” in Thailand.
  • “Kain” in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • “Izaar” in the Arabian Peninsula.
traditional sarong

How is Sarong Made?

The majority of sarongs are crafted through a weaving process, made on a loom. This method interlaces two sets of threads at right angles to form the fabric. By manipulating the threads, different patterns and designs can be created, resulting in the diverse range of sarongs seen across the globe.

With the natural evolution of sarongs, you can now also find knitted, crochet, and lace sarongs commonly available.

The traditional sarongs were often made using cotton, but these days you’ll find sarongs made from every type of fiber, from synthetic to silk, cotton, and everything in between.

How to Wear a Sarong 

If you want to know how to tie a sarong as a dress, shirt, or skirt, in different beautiful styles, these comprehensive videos got you covered!

How to Tie a Sarong Into a Skirt?

Did you know that sarongs can easily turn into many different types of skirts?
Here’s some inspiration to give you a general idea, but you can even explore beyond!

How to Tie a Sarong Dress

This creative video made by ‘Diana said blog’, will probably answer all your questions about how to tie a sarong as a dress, enjoy!

How to Tie a Sarong Into a Halter Dress

There are a few ways to halter the sarong, here are a few beautiful styles you can easily achieve:

How to Tie a Men’s Sarong

How to Tie a Sarong With a Buckle

Are Sarongs Cultural Appropriation

In my view, no. Just like many other traditional attire, sarongs have naturally gained global popularity. I don’t see a problem wearing one.

Can you swim with a Sarong?

Yes, you can technically swim with a sarong, but it’s not usually recommended. It could be uncomfortable when wet and restrict movement while swimming. It’s better used as a cover-up before or after swimming.

white sarong wrap

Beyond Trends

To wrap it up, the sarong is a remarkable blend of functionality, tradition, and fashion. Its journey across cultures and time has only amplified its beauty, diversity, and universal appeal. With countless ways to wear and utilize it, the sarong transcends trends and proves that simplicity often holds the most value in fashion. Whether it’s worn, draped, tied, or wrapped, each fold of a sarong carries a timeless chic.


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