The Barong Tagalog exhibits the loose, long lines of its Chinese sources, the airy tropical appearance of Indo-Malay costume, the elongated effect of Hindu dressing, and the ornamental restraint of European men’s clothing.
Visitacion R. de la Torre, 1986
The Barong Tagalog – The Philippines’ National Wear
I can’t remember the last time I wore a Barong Tagalog. The weddings I have attended over the last couple of years have all required me to be in a suit. Don’t get me wrong — I love wearing suits. But when it comes to formal occasions such as weddings in the Philippines I’d rather be in a Barong Tagalog.
Unlike suits you only need one Barong Tagalog. I’ve never had a reason to have a new one made until I got the news that my sister was getting married. And as I need only one Barong Tagalog it had to be embroidered and tailored by the best. The embroidered piña fabric will be coming from Lumban and will be cut and sewn by White Planes Workshop.
For a tailored garment such as the Barong Tagalog to fit well the undergarment must be tailored too. The camisa de chino, which literally means “Chinese shirt”, is the undergarment worn underneath the Barong Tagalog. You can buy one off the rack but the poor fit, slightly odd look of being cut in half and visible arms doesn’t appeal to me.
I wanted an old-school look that didn’t cut my body in half (akin to a Mao suit). The answer was a tailored camisa de chino with long sleeves designed to be worn untucked. White Planes Workshop used what seems to be rayon for my camisa de chino. It is lightweight, smooth and cool to the touch making it perfect for wearing underneath a Barong Tagalog.
I recently fitted my tailored camisa de chino and I’m happy with how it turned out. The armholes need to be raised and the body a tad shorter but overall the fit is good. I agreed to leave the biceps as is for now but they can be taken in after I have the first fitting for my Barong Tagalog.
Note the pins on the shoulders of my camisa de chino. This indicates where the front embroidery will start.