As July winds down to its final days, everyone’s trying to squeeze the last few drops of summer laziness by hitting the beach for last minute vacations. Stores are offering up cover-ups aplenty, but what’s the point in buying a cheap and shapeless tunic when you can find plenty of more fashionable items for keeping modest?
Enter the pareo, the Tahitian equivalent of the sarong (Southeast Asian) or beach wrap (good ole US of A), the most versatile way to incorporate some style into a seaside stroll. They can be worn as a skirt, dress, wrap, and plenty of shapes in between. Check out the handy guide outlining the many ways to wear this functional and fashionable item. Pareos are by nature exotic in their appeal, but getting one with a batiked design makes it look even more authentic. Batik is a technique of dyeing cloth, which results in an antiquey, cracked surface as a result of using wax and then wax resistant dyes for this fractured effect. While many domestically crafted pareos use a batik-inspired print, rather than using the actual, labor- and time-intensive method, the effect is still “native island girl” nonetheless.
While pareos are worn almost solely by women here in the States, the original garment is more often worn by men, in the “skirt” style. Perhaps this follows the same “it takes a real man to wear a kilt” mentality, but pareos don’t look to be taking off in the menswear departments any time soon.
The best part about pareos is that you can use them to reveal or conceal as much as you choose. Another bonus? Pareos soften the more you wash them. When I fly out to Hawai’i, I always use pareos as a super snuggly blanket to stay cozy in arctic air-blasting airplane cabins. With their indigenous patterns, pareos are like an instant tropical getaway in even the coldest temperatures. Try that with your Snuggie.
As written for AskMissA.com.