Unraveling the Sarong

Wearing a Sri Lankan Sarong; pic by Munir

Lately I’ve been growing increasingly fond of wearing the sarong. I should be surprised because a few years ago i was confident i would never take to the loose wrap around with the tendency to sneakily unravel itself whilst you are asleep.

The sarong is a versatile garment. its easy to put on and take off, it does the job in preserving your modesty (an important factor in Muslim households), it looks decent when properly worn and it manages to do all these things while affording you a great deal of ‘freedom’ and air down there at the same time.

According to wikipedia, sarong wearing is on the drop in Sri Lanka. Apparently there is a strong stigma of it being the attire for the less educated, lower social classes attached to it. Most urban men therefore only wear sarongs for convenience at home or as a night garment. But it is also making a comeback as a fashion statement. At least it did a few years ago, when there was a upsurge of batik/printed sarongs worn to parties all over the place. The craze has died down somewhat i think. But I’ve noticed ordinary people wearing the sarong a lot more in public lately. I put it down to an increased sense of national identity.

Young people are yet to take to the sarong in a big way. Its popular among a few of the new age hipster crowd as a garment to wear when lounging about in expensive cafes but it is still by and large impractical for everyday use. If you’re taking the bus and have to walk around Colombo then wearing a pair of pants is much more practical. Pants were developed with one thing in mind; practicality for Western living. And most of our living originates from the West; from our houses to the way we travel to the way we eat and, consequently, dress. At least, thats a theory of mine.

Anyway, sarongs developed mostly in the Mid East and Asia pacific regions of the world as far as i can discern. The Scots had the kilt but thats not exactly a sarong is it? more of a masculine skirt. Probably more suited to bloody battles on cold winter mornings etc. But in the Mid East, Africa and the Asia Pacific one can see a strong sarong element across various nationalities’ native dresses. Was that sentence correctly constructed? ok nvm. So i guess we evolved our grass skirts in an expansive manner while in Europe they preferred a more compact constriction. But in saying that i’m presuming I know a lot about the origins of pants.

Its all very confusing really. But the phenomenon of skirt like gear is not restricted to our immediate global vicinity either. In fact, looking at what i know of our historical dress codes from all the movies I’ve seen its becoming obvious that men all over the world have started off wearing some form of skirt. Take the Red Indians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Japanese etc etc. The fiercest warriors of countless civilizations have always preferred a skirt. This knowledge has the potential of liberating thousands of henpecked males worldwide forced to let their wives wear the ‘pants in the relationship’ by the realization that wearing the skirt while your wife hogs the pants is probably the more masculine thing to do anyway. Introspection in this area is probably strongly discouraged by the female psyche in such instances.

But all this digression is besides the point of my post. Which is basically about the sarong. And how I’m beginning to like wearing it more and more. I might even start rocking one in public very soon. Be very afraid.

  1. You’re not going to be wearing a sarong tomorrow for the cycling thing, are you? (Please say no).

  2. fuck man i love sarongs…they’re one of the greatest things ppl came up with:-) i would only wear sarongs if i could…they’re the most comfortable thing ever…

  3. i dont see why its such a huge issue to wear a sarong in public…some ppl have actually asked me why i’m wearing a sarong:-s sheesh…why the fuck are you wearing pants? they serve the same goddamn purpose…wear sarongs wherever the fuck you want man…its sad what toffee nosed, confused sri lankans have done to the sarong…

  4. John said:

    would have been useful if you’d actually put up a guide on how to wear the damned things. When I first saw the picture I went “yesss!” Tried to wear a sarong for about a week, did not go too well :/

    • Whacko said:

      PB – No unfortunately, cylcing with a sarong is still a skill to be mastered

      Drifter – yeah, i gotta get me one of em orange ones like urs soon 🙂

      John – just click on the pic it’ll take you to Munir’s flikr act. He’s got a step by step guide there. good luck!

  5. Dili said:

    I dont get what’s the big deal? O_o I usually wear them @ home, and ive worn ‘the national’ in public every Sunday till I was 18. Granted, public transport will be a hassle if you’re not used to it 😆

  6. I think sarongs are awesome! As a girl, they are awesome to wear in bed! And they’re very comfortable! I’ve tried to persuade all my friends – both female and male (albeit of Lankan origin) to wear them. So far I’ve succeeded with about 3! There’s something about guys in sarongs that I think makes them ooze masculinity.

  7. kyle said:

    great post! i’m looking to sell custom sarongs here in sunny southern california!

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