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June 13, 2011

The Polo Barong

In honor of Philippine Independence Day yesterday, June 12th, I’m wearing this polo barong I had tailored for me in Manila. What, you might ask, is a polo barong? It is a riff on the traditional Filipino formal tunic-shirt called the barong tagalog, long-sleeved and made of ivory-colored semi-stiff sheer pineapple fiber. The polo barong is more suited for everyday, typically short-sleeved and breezier, and is the shirt of choice for Filipino men in a stunning variety of occupations: chauffeurs, court justices, janitors, salesmen, students, security guards.
embroidered white linen polo barong by Bergamo
The polo barong, stiff and wrinkly, is usually worn a size or three unflatteringly too big, untucked over a white undershirt and with dress pants and shoes. I recall many a high school day spent in my near-flammable 100% polyester school-issue polo barong, worn with sateen-shiny black trousers and chunky, angular, multi-strap raver shoes—my then-dandyisms—not the most graceful of days!
Illesteva sunglasses, Bergamo polo barong, J.Crew belt, H&M jeans, Number (N)ine flat creepers
worn with Comme des Garcons jacket, somewhat inspired by this photograph on The Sartorialist
details: watch-skeleton ring by Once Lost
Wearing the polo barong with sleeves rolled, tucked into white denim, and under a blazer, I may have well committed a travesty in the eyes of some. But my dear countrymen, amnesty for keeping my hair properly pomaded a la Philippine national hero Jose Rizal?
photos by Pop, Bop and Snap
special thanks to George for sparking the idea of wearing a polo barong in New York


  • BitsOfBanter
    June 13th, 2011 at 10:43 am

    You look amazing. I especially love the sunnies and your ring. Very cool. xx

  • Dandy Man
    June 13th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the introduction to the shirt! The ring's very swish also!

  • Merryl
    June 13th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I almost just asked you about that odd Sartorialist photo. Was that a barong?? I must say I like your version better!

  • Brandon
    June 13th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Pineapple! what does that feel like? I do love the simplicity of this outfit, add a hat and you'll be off to the horse races!

  • Mia B.
    June 15th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I will steal that ring from you when I visit New York.

  • lei ann
    June 15th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    my husband LOOOVES this style of more "casual" barong & gets more made every time we go to manila :) i love your take on using traditional filipino wear more contemporarily & i'm trying to do that as well with some of my embroidered female barong pieces. thanks for the inspiration!

  • Sunglasses UK
    June 28th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I wished to give thanks for this great read!!!

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