The word “sarong” usually conjures up images of a brightly colored wraparound skirt on some lean beach body, usually a girl. This is usually the case in most resort settings, especially in the tropics, where the sarong is part of customary garb.
In the tropics, you will find that the sarong has long been worn by both men and women and that the stereotypical beach body is more the exception than the rule. On many Pacific islands you will find the population wearing sarongs or pareos as a regular part of their dress. Men are often seen wearing a dark sarong with a light-colored button-down shirt for office wear. And many women wear the sarong with blouses or as dresses, regardless of figure.
Think, in this case, of Juanita Hall, who plays Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Bloody Mary is not exactly petite; she embodies the typical figure of more mature women in the Pacific islands, especially among Polynesians, with more than the usual curves. However, it does not dissuade them from wearing a garment that can be both loose and form-fitting at the same time, a garment that is solidly part of their culture and tradition.
The sarong’s versatility should not be limited by the impression that it is limited only to a small segment of the population of the world. Anyone can wear a sarong (in appropriate styles and venues, of course). If men can wear the sarong with their business shirts and even as a complement to their cutaway coats, then women can also use it for regular wear.
There are many fastening methods to use. One favorite is to tuck a loose end into a fold that will hold for much of the day, although a safety pin handy would be recommended. For color and texture, it can be as bright and multi-colored as one would desire, with some models bearing metallic threads as major accents to complement the rich hues of more formal variants. More casual sarongs will be of a lighter, beach worthy cotton or rayon, and may be batik, tie-dyed or printed.
Remember that the sarong’s versatility as a variable garment or accessory is complemented by the diversity of its wearers. Therefore, to any woman who wants to wear one but thinks it won’t suit her figure, here’s my two cents: wear it and rock it.