Fashion and clothing in the Philippines


La Bulaqueña painting by Juan Luna depicting a woman wearing a traditional Filipino clothing.

Fashion and Clothing in the Philippines refers to the way the peoples of Filipino society dress up in instances such as while they are at home, while at work, while travelling, and when attending special occasions.


A sample of men's clothing from Mindanao during the late 19th century or early 20th century.

The clothing style and fashion sense of the Filipinos in the modern-day era has been influenced by their native ancestors, the Spaniards (the Philippines was a colony of the Spanish Empire for around 300 years), the Americans (the Philippines was a territory of the United States for about 50 years), and even the Japanese (Japanese soldiers occupied the Philippines during World War II), as evidenced by the chronology of events that occurred in Philippine history.[1] At present, Filipinos conform their way of dressing, in addition to the above factors, as a result of the influence of what is shown by the media on television, cinema, and fashion shows, among others.[1]

Apart from "colonial influences" and "media influence", the Filipino style of clothing had been dictated by the climate in the Philippines. With a tropical climate (dry and rainy seasons), early Filipinos - as well as the still extant tribal groups in the Philippines - wear colorful woven clothes, often with "intricate beadwork" and other ornaments. Other native clothing, during Pre-Spanish Philippines were the canga and the bahag. The canga is a type of a collarless shirt - which later became adorned with laces, trimmings, buttons, and a collar - was where from the Barong Tagalog evolved. On the other hand, the bahag was a type of loincloth or G-string.

Present-day Filipinos, due to climatic reasons, prefer to wear T-shirts combined with maong (jeans) trousers for men and skirts for women. The "jeans and T-shirts" combination was introduced to the Filipinos by the Americans.[1]

A common attire while at home are ordinary puruntongs (singular: puruntong, a type of pair of shorts or Capri pants) combined with sleeveless shirts or T-shirts. During the rainy season and cold evenings in December and January, some Filipinos wear hooded jackets.[1]

Evolution of Philippine Fashion

Archaic epoch (c.900 A.D. - 16th century)

During the archaic epoch , before the colonizers from Europe discovered the islands, the different tribes and kingdoms wore their respective clothing. The Filipino style of clothing had been dictated by the tropical climate in the Philippines, with a dry and rainy season. Early Filipinos - as well as the still extant tribal groups in the Philippines - wore colorful woven clothes, often with "intricate beadwork" and other ornaments. The men wore pants or a loincloth and usually went topless, as well as wearing tattoos symbolizing power and strength as a warrior, while women went topless or wore a robe-like dress

An ancient form of Barong tagalog in Boxer Codex (c.1500's).

Prior to the Spanish Era, the Tagalogs of Luzon already wore a garment that was a forerunner of the Barong Tagalog - the Baro.[2] Earliest reference to the Baro was in the Historical account of Ma-i (Pre-Colonial name for the Philippines) that the Filipinos wore a sleeve-doublet of rough cotton cloth called kanga, reaching slightly below the waist. It was collarless and had an opening in front. The doublets indicated the social status and badge of courage of a man, red was for the Chiefs and the Bravest, Black and White for the Ordinary Citizen. Their loins were covered with colored Bahague between legs to mid-thigh.

The Boxer Codex, showing the attire of a Classical period Filipino, made of silk and cotton.

The early pre-colonial clothing of groups such as the Tagalogs and Visayans included both the baro and saya made from silk in matching colours. This style was exclusively worn by the women from the upper caste, while those of lower castes wore baro made from pounded white bark fibre.

baro, and a floor length wrap around skirt. Women usually wore jewelry, such as gold necklaces and earrings, which symbolized wealth and beauty. In some tribes, women also wore tattoos signifying beauty, power and wealth.

Attire of a young woman.

In contrast, the Visayans wore clothes similar to that of Indonesians and Malaysians. They wore a robe called Marlota or jacket called Baquero without a collar that reached the feet. The robes or jackets were brightly coloured. The Tagalogs and the Visayans bound their foreheads and temples with long, narrow strips of cloth called Putong. Necks were covered with gold necklaces, and wrists with golden armlets called Calombigas - these had intricate patterns. Others would wear precious stones.[3]

A fashion for a royal visayans.

The usual male headdress was the pudong, a turban, though in Panay both men and women also wore a head cloth or bandana called saplung. Commoners wore pudong of rough abaca cloth wrapped around only a few turns so that it was more of a headband than a turban and was therefore called pudong-pudong—as the crowns and diadems on Christian images were later called. A red pudong was called magalong, and was the insignia of braves who had killed an enemy. The most prestigious kind of pudong,

when Humabon’s queen went to hear mass during Magellan’s visit, she was preceded by three girls carrying one of her hats. A headdress from Cebu with a deep crown, used by both sexes for travel on foot or by boat, was called sarok, which actually meant to go for water.[4]

The Islamic kingdoms in Mindanao specially the Maranao people have a fashion of a female which is a tubeskirt called malong—or a light blanket wrapped around instead. But more prestigious clothes, lihin-lihin, were added for public appearances and especially on formal occasions—blouses and tunics, loose smocks with sleeves, capes, or ankle-length robes.

Spanish Era: New Spain (1521 – 1799)

Filipino women's fashion

When the Spaniards came and settled in the country, the fashion changed drastically as the Spanish culture influenced the succeeding centuries of Philippine History. The Spanish dissolved the kingdoms and united the country, resulting in a mixture of cultures from different ethnic groups and Spanish culture.

Throughout the 16th century up to the 18th century, women wore a Hispanicized version of the Baro’t saya, composed of a bodice - called a camisa, often made in pineapple fiber or muslin - and a floor length skirt, while the men wore the Barong Tagalog, a collared and buttoned lace shirt or a suit.

Spanish Era: Spanish East Indies (1800- 1899)

Depiction of 19th Century family belonging in the Principalia Class wearing typical Maria Clara dress and Barong Tagalog

By the 19th century, due to the continuing influence of the Western culture and due to the rising economy and globalization and exposure from the European fashion scene, the women's clothing began to have a change, women's clothing has now full wide skirts that usually have long train rather than the simple floor length skirts, a bodice called ‘’camisa’’ which means blouse in English and a panuelo, a big square cloth folded triangularly and worn in the Philippines like a great ruffle or collar. The attire is composed of four pieces, namely the camisa, the saya, the pañuelo (a scarf, also spelled panuelo) and the tapis. The camisa is a collarless chemise whose hem is at the waist, and is made from flimsy, translucent fabrics such as pineapple fiber and jusi. The sleeves of the camisa are similar to the so-called "angel wings", or shaped like bells that have cuffs. The pañuelo is a stiff covering for the neck, which acts as an accent piece because of embellishments added to it. The purpose of the pañuelo is related to modesty, used to cover the low-necked camisa'. The saya is a skirt shaped like a bubble with a length that begins from the waist reaching the floor. These are usually comprised either of single or double sheets, called "panels" or dos panos (lit. "two panels/layers"); some examples are made out of seven gores or siete cuchillos (lit. "seven knives"). The tapis is a knee-length over-skirt that hugs the hips. Tapis designs may be plain, and is usually made of opaque fabrics such as muslin and the madras cloth, and also is used for the purposes of modesty as it keeps the lower torso from showing due to the thinness of the saya. Also, when going to the church or attending mass, the women usually wore a veil above their heads, similar to other Catholic countries at that time. The men also continued to wear but a more intricate version Barong Tagalog, a collarless shirt originated from the ethnic cloth called ‘’canga’’. Throughout the centuries the Barong Tagalog has evolved. Buttons and collars were added, as well as intricate designs on its pina fabric and laces. Underneath the transparent Barong Tagalog is the ‘’Camisa de Chino’’ a type of shirt, usually in white that said to have been originated from the Chinese.

The women wore this kind of fashion even when the Spanish Regime was finally overthrown and was replaced by the First Philippine Republic. Today, this type of clothing is now called as the ‘’’Maria Clara’’’ dress, named after the character of Maria Clara from Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere whom became a symbol of the traditional Filipino woman, which known as being modest, elegant and conservative.

American Era (1900s – 1920s)

Traje de Mestiza rose in popularity during the 1900s

When the Americans came and became the second country to colonize the islands, the fashion remained the same for the first five years of the 20th century. But it started to change and become more modern in contrast to the conservative style of the previous centuries as the Americans started to influence the modern Filipino culture.

The women now wore the ‘’’Traje de Mestiza’’’, the more modern version of the Maria Clara. It has now bigger sleeves and a narrower floor length skirt with a long train called saya de cola replaced the full wide skirt reflecting the Edwardian Fashion to the west.

By the 1920s, the style of the skirt still remained however; the Butterfly sleeves now replaced the "Angel Wings" sleeves and the big panuelo reduced its size. Some Filipino women who had lived in United States and in Europe wore the western 1920s fashion with loose dresses and knee length skirt.

Men wore the "Americana" the suit and coat worn in the West, mostly Americans (hence getting the name), replacing the traditional Barong Tagalog.

Commonwealth Era and Second World War (1930s – 1940s)

When the 1930s came, the exposure of Filipinos to the western culture resulted to the increasing of the influence to the young adults, teenagers and children’s clothing. Young women started to abandon the typical "Traje de Mestiza" and started to wear floral printed dresses with mid-calf length shirts. Though many women embraced the western ideals, the typical "Traje de Mestiza" isn’t fully gone. The elders and middle aged women still wear the traditional dress while the young adults considered it as a formal dress for events such as carnivals. In 1930s, Philippines is famous for its beauty pageants and carnivals that draws tourists from around the world, and results into influencing the fashion and beauty standards of the Filipino women. The women wore more elaborate and intricate dresses. The ‘’’Traje de Mestiza"’ is still popular to the people through the 1930s. Men’s fashion remained the same as they continued to wear the "Americana" suit.

When 1940s came, the Philippines saw breaking out of World War II resulting to the shortage of tailoring shops, clothing boutiques and dressmaking factories as the country was occupied by the Japanese Empire. The austerity era started when the rations were implemented and the women wore more simple clothing. The ‘’terno’’ gradually disappeared and stopped being manufactured. Only the older people wear their old ‘’terno’’ dresses. Clothing boutiques only sold monochromatic dresses, mostly in dark tones. The shirtwaist dresses of the previous decade also became popular in the 1940s with a simpler look. The men’s fashion still remained unchanged but became a more casual as they seldom wear the coat. During the mid 1940s, the clothing boutiques, tailoring shops, and dressmakers stopped operation as the final chapter of the World War II occurred in the Philippines. The capital city of Manila was bombed and was left 80% destroyed and was considered being the second most devastated city in World War II, next only to Warsaw.

After the war, most of the people either lost their clothes or couldn’t find new clothes. In 1946, the country tried to live in a normal life once again but the lack of dressmakers made the fashion of the 1930s and early 1940s remained popular for the rest of the decade.


The Filipiniana/Terno gown, the modernized Traje de Mestiza rose to popularity as a formal attire during latter half of the 20th Century.

When the decade started, the country saw the rise of economy once again giving opportunities for people to have more necessities and live in the normal life. Women remained wearing the 1940s fashion during the first five years of the decade. In the late 1950s, women started to wear colorful dresses and with floral prints. The style was inspired by Christian Dior’s ‘’New Look’’ collection, characterized by a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, pointed bust, small waist, and rounded shoulder line. Summer and Day dresses became popular, as well as the pencil skirts and cardigans.

Men’s fashion changed slightly as the men started wearing youthful clothing such as sweaters, colorful printed polos, pants and flannels. ‘’Chinos’’ became popular as well as white tee shirt, tartan plaids. The drape cut suits remained popular.

The Barong Tagalog became popular once again to be worn as a formal wear, popularised by the then President Ramon Magsaysay. The Ternowas rarely worn by young women everyday however was still worn at formal events such as galas, national events, government parties and film festivals.


When the 1960s entered, most of the styles from the late-1950s still remained however, due to the rise of British pop culture that spread in United States and other parts of the world, fashion started to change. A new kind of dress invented by Mary Quant, called the miniskirt, mini dresses started to become popular and mod style fashions also emerged. Hair became very stylish as the hair were styled bigger and higher with the use of hairspray. By the mid 1960s, the hemlines became shorter and the clothes became fitted.

Men's fashion is continued to a more youthful vibe as they started wearing polos and pants, replacing the suit and coats. Suits and Coats were only worn during events and by the older men as well as the Barong Tagalog.


Due to the Hippie Culture in late 1960s which promotes Peace and Love, many Filipinos also embraced the culture and continued until the early seventies. At the same time, the rise of Filipino Nationalism began and both movements influenced the way people live and dress. Early 70's saw women started to abandon mini dresses for a more modest clothing such as maxi skirts. Vintage clothing from the Victorian Era of the west also became popular as long sleeves, laces, and collars became popular in dresses. Bell Bottom pants started to become popular that would continue to the rest of the decade.

Men also wore Bell Bottoms often in bright colors, similar to the women. Also, Turtle neck also became popular as well as sweater vests, colorful bright patterned polos and pants .

By the mid 1970s, men started wearing t-shirtss replacing the formal look with a more laid-back look. Denim jeans also started to emerge, as well as sweatshirts.

When the Disco culture emerged, the bell bottoms became a staple. It came up with different bright colors, as well as the polos and scarfs. Women started wearing sequined dresses, mostly in miniskirts and bell bottom jeans. T-shirts also became popular for women and the footwear called bakya became popular.


Due to the power dressing movement, women usually young adult women also started to wear clothes with shoulder pads while teenagers started wearing neon colored clothes. Miniskirts also came back in popularity. Hairstyles were also emphasized as most women had their hair curled.

Men's fashion had a shift as they started to wear brightly colored t-shirts or polo shirts and denim jeans for a casual look, throwing away the more formal look. Teenage boys also wear pastel and neon colored jackets, polos, pants, short shorts and t-shirts. Converse All-Stars was also popular among the teenagers.

Sportswear also became popular for everyday clothing. Leggings rose to popularity as well as jogging pants, headbands and legwarmers.


The 1990s fashion was a laid back version of the 1980s fashion. This decade saw the beginning of the influence of rock music to mainstream fashion. Men started to wear dark, simple and mostly oversized clothes, moving away to the brightly colored clothes of the 1980s. Women also wore loose, simple and casual clothing such as oversized shirts, denim shorts, denim jeans, simple blouses and sneakers. Skirts weren't as popular as denim throughout the decade. Men's hairstyles also changed as they made their hair longer for the first times since the decade of the 1970s. Also, a hairstyle called cachupoy was considered popular among teenage boys. It was a straight hairstyle that has a middle parting at the center, most teen celebrities have that kind of hairstyle.

It was also the decade where people from all social status wear the same clothes, having a hard time distinguishing who was from the upper class or from the lower class as everyone opted for a simple, laid-back style of dressing.


The 1990s fashion remained popular during the early years of the first decade of the 21st century. 2000s fashion was considered a mash up of different styles. In the first part of the decade, the concept of innerwear as an outerwearwas popularized resulting to having spaghetti strap clothes become popular in the mainstream. Men still followed the 1990s fashion with hip-hop inspired of clothing wearing cargo pants, oversized T-shirts.

By the mid 2000s, colorful clothes began to rise again. Men started wearing flannel and checkered polos. At the end of the decade, people saw the mixture of clothing from uggboots worn with short shorts and t-shirts to dresses worn over with leggings.


Due to the development of social media, many Filipino women and men were exposed to different styles. Also due to the rising economy of the country for the first time since People Power Revolution as well as constant building of shopping malls and shopping centers, many Filipinos began buying more clothes.

Early 2010s began with a continuation of some of the late-2000s fashion however in 2011, a change began as people started to move away from the rock influenced 2000s fashion and create a more distinctive 2010s fashion. With the rise of social media, most of the women began wearing a tumblr inspired clothes. Also, women became interested to the fashions in 1960s and began replicating those styles. Men also began wearing preppy clothes inspired by the British boy band One Direction who rose to fame in 2010. Skinny jeans proved to be popular among the men and came up with different colors as well as the shorts.

In 2013, skater skirts became popular among teenage girls and they started wearing more feminine clothing.

When the mid 2010s entered, women began wearing more modest clothing as the fashion brands started to market 1950s and 1960s inspired clothing. Denim pants was replaced by skirts and leggings. Men began to wear more formal clothes.

Dresses replaced the casual t-shirts and jeans worn by the women while Chinos replaced the denim pants worn by men.

Traditional Clothing by Regions

Ethnic Clothing are worn by the members of different ethnic tribes around the country before the Spanish colonized the islands. Today, they are still often worn during gatherings, festivals, and for cultural shows.


Igorot Ethnic Outfit

The Igorots are indigenous people from the Cordilleras. They are known for wearing a piece of clothing with intricate patterns woven by their own fellowmen. The men's clothing consists of red loincloth called "wanes" with tribal patterns, tattoos which is a symbol for bravery, and colorful bead necklaces. Women's clothing are usually similar to men's except that the women wear wrap-around skirt or called "lufid" and usually topless. In some parts of Cordilleras such as the Igorots in Benguet, women wrap their breasts with a very detailed wrap-around clothing.


Baro't Saya

The traditional Baro't Saya was worn by the lowland people in whole of Luzon. It includes the blouse called "baro" and a skirt called "saya". Today, the dress represents the rural life in the Philippines


Maria Clara Dress

Being the capital and also located in lowland are of Luzon, Manila people often wore more elaborate version of Baro't Saya with wide full skirts rather than the simple skirt. Throughout the 17th-18th century, these clothings also became popular to the upper and middle class Filipinos from other parts of the country, mostly urban areas such as Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and many more. Today, it is now known as the Maria Clara gown and it represents the Spanish colonial history of the country as well as the aristocracy of the Filipino people. During the American period, the design drastically changed from a wide full skirt to a more modern look and then again changed into the current Filipiniana popularized by Imelda Marcos in the 1960s. Men wore Barong Tagalog but with also a more elaborate and intricate designs.


Kimona and Patadyong

In the islands of the Visayas regions, the Kimona represents Visayan clothing. Most Visayas lowland people wear the typical Kimona, a blouse matching with a knee-length skirt. Kimona is typically a transparent piece of clothing made of pineapple fiber while the skirt is usually either floor-length or knee-length printed with the Patadyong pattern, hence getting the name Patadyong skirt. The dress is often accompanied with a handkerchief called tubao and is often placed above the right shoulder.


In Mindanao, majority of the people are practicing Islam, therefore following the Islamic culture. Women wear a hijab, a long-sleeved top and a floor-length skirt, while men wear polos and pants together with a hat called taqiyah.

Women's Clothing

Baro't Saya (literally "Shirt and Skirt") is the Filipino style of Women's clothing. Traditionally, it is composed of a blouse and a long skirt with a "panuelo". The upper class women wore more elaborate baro't saya sewn with beads and has colorful designs. The skirt is also wider than what lower classes wore.

These types of clothing that are "simple yet functional" that have both indigenous Filipino qualities and Spanish influence started to become prominent during the 16th-century in the Philippines.

Such clothing, through the innovation of modern-day Filipino fashion designers, can be worn in the Philippines for formal occasions and office uniforms. These "national clothes" can be made from materials such as piña, jusi, abaca, and Mindanao silk.[1]

Men's Clothing

Barong Tagalog is a clothing worn by the Men. Originated in Luzon, this clothing is made of pineapple fiber and is actually transparent, an undershirt has to be worn together with a black pants. The "coat" or "suit", locally known as the "Amerikana" or "Americana" (literally "American") was another type of clothing introduced to the Philippines by the Americans. Worn with a tie, it is used for formal occasions.[1]

Fashion designers

Filipino Designers are considered as the best fashion designers in Asia having designers reach the international fashion scene. Notable Filipino fashion designers include Pitoy Moreno (the "Fashion Czar in Asia"), Inno Sotto, Rajo Laurel, Beatriz Tesoro, Christian Espiritu, Auggie Cordero, Monique Lhuillier, Ezra Santos, Mich Dulce, Francis Libiran, Oliver Tolentino, Josie Natori, and Michael Cinco. Moreno was known to design and create dresses for Philippine First Ladies, other famous women in the Philippines, Asia, the United States and Europe.[1]

Popular brands

Bench, a Filipino clothing brand.

Filipino brands

Philippine brand clothing that are popular in the Philippines include Onesimus, Penshoppe, Loalde, Kamiseta (literally "T-shirt"), Maldita and Bayo.[1]

International brands

Signature brands from abroad that are popular in the Philippines include Giordano, Levi's, Nike, The Gap, Banana Republic and Guess.[1]

See also


External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.