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What Should I Consider When Buying a Sarong?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Consider the versatility of a sarong. Since it is simply a rectangular piece of cloth of varying sizes, it can be wrapped in many different ways on the body and can be worn by anyone of any size and shape. You should consider buying different sized sarongs that can be worn together to create many different clothing pieces such as swimwear cover ups, skirts, tops, dresses, shawls and scarves.

This garment is popular in tropical climates and makes great vacation wear. Consider practicing wrapping sarongs of different sizes around your body in front of a full length mirror. Wrapping instruction books are also available and it is said that these garments can be tied in at least 45 different ways. A smaller one can be used as a top with a larger one knotted at the waist to give the look of a long dress. Or, a smaller sarong can make a short skirt, while a larger one can make a long skirt.

Both men and women wear sarongs as swim suit cover ups. They are often paired with seashell and sterling silver jewelry. Knots at the neck or waist hold the cloth to the body. Clips can also be used to help secure it. These clips are often made from mother of pearl or coconut shell and has two large holes in it to allow the fabric to slide through for a firmer hold.

Consider your style and color preferences when buying a sarong. They are available in many patterns, colors and fabrics such as pastel mesh net and brightly colored batik prints. Some have fringes or other trims, although most have plain hems. Silk sarongs are especially luxurious and some can even be worn as wedding dresses.

These garments are so versatile that their use need not be limited to clothing as they can also used as a table cloth, wall hanging, furniture cover, beach blanket or curtains. The sarong has many different names in different parts of the world. The term is usually associated with Indonesia and other Southeast Asian regions such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. In India a similar garment is called a sari and in Africa it is called a Kanga. In the South Pacific and Hawaii, it is known as a pareo.

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Discussion Comments

By BulanIndah — On Nov 11, 2013

Other points to note when buying a sarong is:

The quality. Touch the material and you'll know if it's going to last longer than just one beach holiday.

The fabric type, depending on what you plan to use it for, different materials fit different weather conditions.

The print pattern. Does it fit better as a decoration or for fashion? Always wrap them on to try and see how it looks on your body.

The color. Again, what's beautiful in your eyes may not necessarily match your skin tone.

By anon228501 — On Nov 09, 2011

I loved my sarong so much I was looking into creating them. The more I bought, the more I was drawn to them. They are so comfortable and lightweight.

By Sara007 — On Jul 26, 2011

I had the opportunity to visit Thailand and they have huge markets that just sell varieties of sarongs, among other summery clothes. In Thailand it seems like sarongs are a huge staple of most female travelers' wardrobes.

The thing I liked most about the sarongs in Asia were that they were more than just the simple beachwear you usually find in stores back in the US. I found sarongs that were detailed with intricate silver threading and available in silks and beautiful linen. The best thing about the sarongs was they were incredibly cheap.

Does anyone else know some great travel locations where you can pick up lovely sarongs?

By Mae82 — On Jul 26, 2011

Sarongs are probably one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can add to your summer wardrobe. They come in different lengths so you should make sure you have an idea of what you want to use it for before you purchase one.

I find the shorter length sarongs to be great for a knee length skirt or used as a shawl when it gets a bit cooler at night. With the longer sarongs you can do anything from make a dress out of it to use it as a beach blanket if you suddenly find yourself in need of one.

I usually keep at least one of each length in my beach bag as I find it best to be prepared.

By comfyshoes — On Jul 25, 2011

I live on the beach and I love wearing a sarong skirt when I hit the beach. It is so comfortable, yet stylish. It does make a nice fashion statement while still keeping my body covered up.

I like to have a bunch of different patterns and colors to match my different swim suits. I really hate it when people in my building come in from the beach and do not wear anything to cover up their swim suit.

Sarongs are really inexpensive and I think if you don’t have a traditional cover up you should definitely get one of these because it looks a little inappropriate to be riding an elevator in a swim suit.

By Veruca10 — On Jul 24, 2011

@truman12 - How right you are. It makes sense to buy a quality garment rather than a cheap one that is going to fit badly and fall apart on you, even if that means you can't have as many or you have to wait a bit to get it.

I am a big fan of the "buy once, cry once" philosophy when it comes to anything I would want to keep for a long time. I use this for tools, clothes, shoes, cars, pretty much anything where there is a quality product available.

Of course, the sarong I bought my wife cost me the bargain price of $5012 in Cambodia. It was $12 for the sarong, and five grand for the trip!

By Viktor13 — On Jul 24, 2011

@amysamp - Excellent use of the term "wardrobe malfunction!" I hear it all the time now. It's a wonder how we got along without it before that Janet Jackson controversy.

Anyway, thanks for the tip. That's a really good idea on how to keep your sarong where it needs to be. They really are good for more than beach wear, but one does not want to become suddenly "exposed".

By emtbasic — On Jul 23, 2011

@nextcorrea - I agree with you that the sarong is really beautiful. Just like you said, we were on a trip in Asia (Thailand, specifically) and we wandered into a little shop that had a bunch of sarongs. My fiancee fell in love with a bunch of them, and I told her to pick out a few that were her favorite.

She wears them over a swimsuit or even as a skirt on hot days. Who cares if it stands out, if you like it? I think she looks great in them. So, that's the male opinion for what it's worth.

By honeybees — On Jul 23, 2011

Wearing a sarong skirt is one of the most comfortable items of clothing I have ever worn. When we took a trip overseas I saw many women wearing them, and I loved their bright colors and the way they fit any size body.

I ended up buying one and began wearing it right away while on the trip. Because they are so comfortable and easy to wear, I take one with me anytime I am going on vacation now.

By Tomislav — On Jul 23, 2011

@bluespirit - I would look online. I can be wary of buying any clothing online because you don't know how it will fit but with sarongs they are easy - it really seems to be one size fits all because you are tying the sarong.

Also a tip when I am looking online for items to buy put your item into the search engine's site's search bar. Then look up at the top of your screen for different headers, they usually say something like: web, images, videos, etc.

There should be an item that says "shopping" and you should click on the word "shopping." The page will refresh and it will show you multiple websites that are selling the item you are looking for. Even better you can choose how you want to see the results.

My favorite way to see the results is from lowest price to highest price! I am a bargain shopper through and through.

By golf07 — On Jul 22, 2011

It is interesting to read about all the different uses there are for wearing sarongs. If you have one and don't know quite what to do with it, there are many online videos that will show you how to tie a sarong.

It is much easier for me to learn out how to do something new by watching, than by just reading written instructions. I have two sarongs, and had only worn them a couple of times because I didn't know how to tie them or wear them properly.

Once I learned there were so many different ways to tie them and wear them, it gave me many creative ideas and inspiration.

By bagley79 — On Jul 22, 2011

The last time I went shopping for a sarong I was looking for one to wear as a swim suit cover up. We were getting ready to go on a cruise, and I was looking for a specific color that would match both swimming suits I was taking with me.

I think beach sarongs are very versatile and there are so many different designs and colors to choose from. Even if you just want to take a walk along the beach, wearing a sarong is perfect and if it gets wet, it will dry very quickly.

By bluespirit — On Jul 22, 2011

I agree with the other people posting, sarongs have beautiful colors and patterns and I admire them from afar. But when it comes to me purchasing one, I would like a simple black sarong to go with my simple black bathing suit.

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to look?

By amysamp — On Jul 21, 2011

I have worn a sarong as a skirt! I just make sure to reinforce where I have tied the sarong. Usually I just use something as simple as a safety pin and that does the trick.

With use of the safety pin, if there happens to be a wardrobe malfunction and the sarong is stepped on or other miscellaneous occurrence, then it only comes undone to the safety pin!

I usually top the skirt with a plain tank top or shirt since the skirt is usually bold and patterned.

By JessiC — On Jul 20, 2011

Sarongs really are great little pieces of accessories to have, especially for beachgoers like myself.

We live near the coast, and through the summer my kids and I try to make the half hour drive to the beach at least once a week. As a result, we have tons of bathing suits and things.

Since it is a little bit of a drive we have other cute things that we like to do while there, as well. For instance, we have this cute ice cream shack we like to go to. And there is a charming playground near the public access we use.

Naturally, since we’re driving in to the beach, we don’t have a lot of different places to go and change our clothes a million times. And, these folks are used to seeing people walking around in their bathing suits all the time.

It’s just that I’m uncomfortable at this thirty-something stage of my life running around with so little clothes on. Adding a cute little sarong for me and my daughter makes it a little less awkward.

By Agni3 — On Jul 20, 2011

Sarongs really are very versatile, but I would say try them before you buy them anyway. They are not all built equal even though they are often one size fits all.

I personally have an odd sort of figure – I’ve got lots of curves. They are just in all the wrong places. My hips and legs are about the perfect size for my body, but my waist is bigger proportionately than seems typical.

As a result, if I’m not careful when I wear a sarong, I look extremely top heavy with itty-bitty chicken legs. So, I make sure to try them on and make certain that the ‘one size fit all’ really does fit my body type.

I find the ones with small ruffles along the bottom help to even out the whole look tremendously, and also wearing a print on the sarong and a solid around my waist.

By truman12 — On Jul 19, 2011

I love sarongs and have been buying them for years. I have several drawers filled with sarong skirts, dresses and even specialized sarong swimwear.

In my experience the most important thing to consider when you buy a piece of clothing like this is the quality of the fabric. You want to think about thread count, elasticity, quality of fiber and dye. This is because I have purchased sarongs that fell apart of faded very quickly. After only a little bit of time they were not worth wearing anymore.

Often these garments are made cheaply and the workmanship and dedication to quality is not always up to par. Give your sarong a close examination before you buy it. It might be the difference between having one that lasts for a year or a decade.

By chivebasil — On Jul 19, 2011

For those of you who consider price above all other things you might consider going online before you but your next sarong.

I know that there are websites on which you can buy sarongs wholesale. Often their prices are much better than what you would find in stores.

They also often have a better selection. You can find sarongs for women and men and plus size sarongs which can be rare in retail stores. The sarong market is really much better online.

By nextcorrea — On Jul 18, 2011

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a sarong, but got me the most important feature is to have a really beautiful design.

Sarongs are some of the most beautiful garment anywhere in the world and they are known for their colorful and intricate patters. There are literally so many different designs that you can look around until you find one that really connects with you and defines the look you are going for.

I spent some time in Southeast Asia and my husband and I went to a store that only sold sarongs. I must have spent an hour looking through the racks trying to find just the right one. And sure enough it was there, a dress/wrap more beautiful than any I have ever seen. It stands out a little here in the states but I wear it anyway just because it looks so good. Hold out for a really beautiful pattern.

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