Monday, June 20, 2011

Sarong Ties

I haven't seen ANY women wearing sarongs around Mérida, but the 'dress code' is different here than at the beach.  Tourists use sarongs as swimwear cover-ups, so there are plenty of sarong vendors at popular beaches.

In Hawaii almost all women wear pareus or sarongs at the beach and for comfort hanging around the house.  In some parts of the South Pacific, like Fiji and Tahiti, the pareu is customary day and night clothing.  It was the 'uniform' at the upscale resort where I worked in Qamea, Fiji.  The owner wanted to maintain the 'Fijian' feel.....we weren't allowed to wear shoes on site either.  I'll never forget walking from our bungalow over to the main kitchen and dining room in pouring tropical rainfalls at night barefoot, squishing frogs all along the way.  There were millions of them, and it was particularly icky.  Oops, I digressed.

Men also wear a version of the pareu, called a lava lava.  My husband Jim believed "all men should be required to wear lava lavas; the world would be a happier place."  In Samoa, Tonga and Fiji men wear formal lava lavas.  The Customs Officials who greeted us as we docked our sailboat in Apia, Western Samoa, wore wrap-around belted style lava lavas made of trouser fabric.  We had to laugh when a gust of wind blew their 'skirts' up!  They were embarrassed and declined to step down into our boat, since there was a female aboard.  They just signed us approved and let us out of quarantine so we could run for a cold beverage and ice. 

I don't wear pareus outside the house unless I'm at the beach.  But I practically live in them inside the house.  Every now and again I find the below-pictured suggestions for pareu fashion.  Before I lose them again, I'm immortalizing them here and wanted to share these tropical tips with you. 

(To get a larger view, click on the photos and they'll enlarge full screen.)

a.  This is an easy tie but to me it feels like it's pulling me from the shoulder. It looks pretty good though, and is one you don't have to worry will fall off you at an inappropriate time.

b.  Most inexperienced sarong wearers only try the first part of 'tie b'.  If you gather up enough fabric you can make the first tie or twist and then it becomes a more formed dress, with the sarong tied in the back. 

c.  This is my favorite tie.  You need a large sarong (some are made of fabric not wide enough for some of these ties, those are used mainly as a skirt wraparound). After you have it folded in half width-wise, holding yourself directly in the middle, it helps to grab the bit just below your chin and use your chin to hold the center in place.  Then bring the ends together and make a knot.  The part you were guarding with your chin can be folded over the knot and looks like a bit of a collar or decorative neckline in front. What's great about this tie is that a pleat is formed in the middle, giving you excellent freedom of movement with plenty of security that this will hold. This is a formal Fijian dress.

d.  I've tried this tie and it always looks like I have on a saggy diaper.  I think if I were 20 and partying it up in Cancun I might have the nerve to go out like this, but I don't find it attractive or recommendable.

e. This wrap doesn't appeal to me, I'm not much into the caped look.  Still, it looks ok. Not one of my faves tho.

The ties below are Tahitian.  I've never tried this one, but I think you need a large sarong for it. You use it lengthwise, and all those little ties take away from your usable fabric.  I think it looks like a beautiful little sundress, and I'll let you know how it works out if I try this one.
 Tahitian pareus are often larger compared to Hawaiian or Samoan pareus..  I remember the pareus my husband brought me from Tahiti were a much wider fabric and larger.  I've been practicing this tie below, I think it looks great, but it's hard to pull the fabric and tie those knots just so, making the item appear more to be a sun dress than a piece of fabric I frantically tied.
Ok, don't laugh!  I made a little video of myself putting on a lava lava, skirt style, which is how I wear mine around the house most of the time.  Hold one tightly to your side, and wrap the skirt all the way around until you're out of fabric. Take the fabric you are holding and roll it into the part of the lava lava already sitting on your hips.  After you do several rolls, it's going to stay pretty well. (With a larger pareu you can often tie the ends together and you'll never fall out of that one!).  The last step is to grab the part of the pareu you left under the wrapping, pull it up a little and fold it over.  This is the same tie for men. 

The pareu, sarong, lava lava, whatever you want to call it gets my vote for coolest, most practical tropical wear.  You simply have to wear it in the right place at the right time to pull it off.


C-Notes said...

I love this! And I love wearing sarongs! I can't wait to don mine there - in the appropriate places of course!
When in Africa, women wear them very functionally. The women would help me to tie my children on my back when they were young. That was SO much easier than carrying them in hand.
I wear them around the house ALL the time and pretty much on any beach I travel to -Kauai, St Simons Island, Jamaica, Cancun, an soon Merida! ;)

Linda Dorton said...

C- Glad you like the post, We shall be meandering about the house pareu clad soon.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article Linda, I am enjoying your article. I am at work now, back to night shift and it's great. I am showing article to my co-worker and telling her about you and mexico. Think about selling this article!! More later, marsha

Linda Dorton said...

Marsha,I'm glad you enjoyed the sarong/pareu information. I appreciate the support.

Cheryl said...

I love the idea of wearing this at home. Something cool and soft but pretty. We hope to visit Yucatan soon with an eye toward moving there so I am reading and learning everything I can of day to day living. This was a biggie. Thanks.


Beryl Gorbman said...

That looks like a great thing to wear around the house. Can you buy light cotton like that in Merida? Can you give some of us a class? It is a lovely look.

Linda Dorton said...

I will show you my collection of sarongs - you can see which fabrics work best. To make one you would need a wide fabric, lightweight material, seam up the two cut ends, and voilá! As you know, the fabrics available in Mérida are terrific.

You still up north? Aren't there fabric stores with foreign styiles available? I remember seeing beautiful Hawaiian floral patterns but maybe I remember that from Hawaii. ha ha... Indian, Thai, Balinese, fabrics would be great to find. I'd bet if you asked the shopkeepers how much for a sarong, pareu, or sulu would get you just what you need.

I can show you ties I know. I use the most simple ties usually, except I love the one that becomes a strapless dress. You need a larger pareu for that. Believe it or not, they vary in sizes.

Class? Is there really interest? Coffee talk at least. Let's put it on our lists of things TO DO.