How to Wear or Wrap a Sarong
A Worldwide Fashion Trend
The sarong, as its most commonly known here in Southern California, is a large sheet of fabric that can be wrapped and tied around the body in numerous ways. Commonly sold as a simple beach cover-up in the States, the sarong is known all over the world as a staple of the wardrobe.
A Bit of History
In south and southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, the sarong (Malay for "covering") is worn commonly as the lower garment by both men and women alike. In Africa they're known as "kangas" (not the Winnie the Pooh character), and are often worn covering the entire body, two kangas covering the top and bottom halves, or even to carry babies in. In India they are worn by men and women alike, but women more commonly wear saris (sarees). In Sri Lanka, sarongs are a men only garment.
The idea of one piece of cloth being used goes back even to the Greek togas, popularized again by fraternities and fashionistas alike. It is a simple concept, and there are many ways of securing the garments from tucking it into itself, using pins, or belts.
How to Wrap a Sarong
Here are a few ways how you can tie a sarong.
First and easiest is the beach cover-up way--simply grab the corners of the longer part of the cloth, wrap around your waist and tie in a simple square knot (the kind you make when you first go to tie a shoelace). For extra security, double knot it and if you want to wear this style as a skirt you can pin the open edges closed so you don't have any Marilyn Monroe moments. For a sassier look, fold the sarong into a triangle before tying the ends together. For a shorter look, fold in half so the fringe is hanging at the bottom and then tie around your waist.
Another very simple, standard way is to wrap the sarong around your waist, and tuck it securely into itself. You can pin it for extra security. This provides more coverage than knotting.
These two types of ties can also be done around the chest, with the wrap coming just below the armpits. You can knot it leaving it open, or secure it with safety pins, or just wrap it twice around yourself and tuck it in (and maybe pin it for security). This can make a nice dress--nice and breezy for summertime.
Another method is to bring the sarong behind you, holding the corners of the long side on the top. Cross them in front of you and tie behind your neck. For an extra look, cross them in front and twist the corners around themselves once before tying behind your neck to make a sleeker look.
To go with a toga style, wrap the sarong around you and bring the ends under one armpit. Knot or criss cross there, then bring up and over the same shoulder and finish it off with a knot. Or for the look a la Katie Holmes above, just knot over one shoulder and pin below to keep it from flying open.
For a sort of poofy top look, hold the shorter ends in front of you, letting it hand long. Knot the top shorter ends, put your head through, knot the middle behind your back, and then secure the back with pins.
This can be done similarly holding the sarong with the long ends facing you. Fold it in half lengthwise, knot behind your back, then take the top layer and knot around your neck.
For an elegant look, wrap the sarong in front of you bringing the ends behing you, then twist the ends behind you and bring up and around your neck. You'll have to pin it to make it stay, but this can make for a very nice look.
Other very simple ways to use a sarong are like a shawl. Fold in half (experiment with the way you like best) and drape over shoulders. You can bring the ends behind your back and knot for a more finished look.
That's A Wrap
I could probably go on about the different ways, but those are the basics to get you started and all it takes is a little experimentation and imagination to go from there. Hope you enjoy wearing your sarong as much as I do!
Or check out my hub on How to Wrap a Sari