During our summer months, island breezes remind me of my native roots in South America, where beaches seem to make time stand still and sunsets linger. Natives on the beach, their glistening, golden bodies moving rhythmically to the beat of drums, created memories I will never forget. Their sun-kissed skin was hidden only by their handmade cover-ups known as sarongs. The luscious, colorful fabrics and intricate designs of their sarongs looked like art swaying in the wind. Though we may have strayed from our roots, Florida retains an ethnic flavor due to the mixture of beautiful people from different countries. Our residents introduce us to their customs and way of dressing. Floridians do not travel very far to enjoy their beaches, and it is no wonder the locals have adopted a laid-back attitude. “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” is the unofficial motto in a state where people work hard in order to play hard. We prize the mild temperatures and outdoor lifestyle, so sarongs are perfect for Florida life.
Boating communities, tourists on cruises, and weekend warriors spend much of their recreation time on the water. Swimming, surfing and other aquatic activities require a wardrobe consisting of a bathing suit and cover-up. Going from the water to a restaurant or grocery store is easy by draping and tying a sarong. If you can tie a knot, you can tie a sarong. Gone are the days of stopping by the house to change before your next event. A sarong makes it possible to transition easily from day to night. This large, rectangular piece of colorful fabric is handcrafted, resulting in a variety of patterns and styles. You may wear your sarong as a cover-up by wrapping it around your waist, as a bandeau dress by knotting it around your bust, or as a halter dress by wrapping it around your bust and tying it around your neck. Sarongs are not limited to Summer. Try using one as a scarf over a blazer for additional warmth during chilly nights, or as a shawl over a sleeveless dress in the evening.
The sarong is one of my favorite pieces to take on vacation. It is lightweight and folds neatly, saving valuable luggage space. Sarongs are a one-size-fits-all solution when you need a cover-up that is both functional and stylish. The sarong can take you from play to fine dining or dancing with the addition of the right jewelry and shoes. With so many patterns, colors and fabric choices, you become your own designer, making it easy to find one that matches your swimsuit.
FOR THE HOME
Island breezes do not have to end with Summer on the beach. You can enjoy the tropical feel year- round by using sarongs in your home decor. They can add color, texture and ethnic flavor to your surroundings.
For versatility, try using sarongs as window treatments, table runners, or throws. Sew them to make pillow covers. When having a dinner party, fold your sarong in thirds and place on the edge of your table, creating one long colorful place mat, or hang and tie on your gazebo for a colorful partition that is useful for blocking the sun and adding privacy. Draping, folding and simple sewing can turn your home into an island oasis to be enjoyed all year long.