How to Wear a Sarong, the Forgotten Hero of Water-Adjacent Dressing

Sarong worn at Chanel Cruise 2018 runway show

Sarong worn at Chanel Cruise 2018 show; Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

We’re living in the age of advanced beach styling. The formerly blah one-piece has been entirely rebranded. Daywear as beachwear (and vice versa) is all the rage. Kimonos, maxi dresses and other non-cover-up cover-ups have unceremoniously ousted the oversized white T-shirt, caftan and sarong. But is the era of the sarong (pareo, whatever you want to call it) really over?

At Chanel’s Cruise 2018 presentation, Karl Lagerfeld paid homage to the eternal beauty of ancient Greece — and the sarong wrap. One model walked the runway in a ruched, high-rise bikini topped with an ultra glam transparent cloak (for an Old Hollywood effect), another in a cowl-neck one-piece accessorized with a tonal, laurel leaf-patterned sarong.


A sarong at Oscar de la Renta Spring 2019; Image: Imaxtree

Cut to Spring 2019 where the runways were full of the normally beach-bound wrap skirts. Everyone from Paco Rabanne to Oscar de la Renta featured them in their shows. If that isn’t sufficient proof that the sarong still holds water, we don’t know what is.

In case you need further convincing, consider the following:

(1) Sarongs double as maxi skirts and bandeau tops.

(2) They don’t trap sand the way, say, culottes do.

(3) In a transparent sarong, every inch of your glorious swimsuit — and assets — remains on display.

(4) A printed sarong paired with a printed bikini makes for a fun mixed-print statement.

(5) Tied the Chanel way, the silhouette cinches your waist, creating an hourglass shape.

(6) Alternating sarongs (and tying methods) gives your swimsuits extra mileage.

Why not go retro? This summer make a sarong the focal point of at least one of your beach or pool outfits. Keep reading for our current sarong picks.