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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Spanish Colonial Philippines Part 10: Late 18th Century Men’s Fashion Changes

Our previous two installments featured ilustrado and principalia class (in the middle to upper class) men’s fashion from around the mid-18th century. By the late 18th century, clothing styles changed. Much like the present day, style changes were driven by the upper class and elite in the western world. The middle to upper classes in the late 18th century Philippines were very likely following the lead of European fashion while innovating their own native styles.

The baro or barong was shortening with the bottom hitting around the mid-thigh area, when it previously ended just above the knees. The barongs’ collars were also shortening from the previous long and often standing Elizabethan collars. The frills at the edges of the barong were dotted with fine embroidery. Vertical stripes on barongs are starting to be a thing with more images appearing to depict these designs. The loose wide legs of the trousers from earlier in the 18th century became more fitted and narrow and were often decorated with stripes. The umbrella also begins to be a fashionable accessory, especially among the middle class.

These styles would continue into the 19th century. Though change is not far away after this period in Philippine men’s clothing.

“Un Mestizo de Manila”. This well-to-do mixed blood Filipino man strolls while smoking in Manila. He’s wearing a striped piña Barong Tagalog. Early 19th century, artist unknown.

Bottom caption reads “Un Mestizo de Manila”. This well-to-do mixed blood Filipino man strolls while smoking in Manila. He’s wearing a striped piña Barong Tagalog, matching stripe silk trousers, with umbrella in hand and a salakot on his head. He wears shoes or slippers without stockings. Early 19th century, artist unknown.

Artist rendering of a late 18th/early 19th century native Filipino man of the principalia class. His barong is shorter, reaching down around mid-thigh.He wears a jacket over his barong in principalia style. Image from The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines National Wear (1986) by Visitacion R. de la Torre.

Artist rendering of a late 18th/early 19th century native Filipino man of the principalia class. He is likely a local official - gobernadorcillo. His barong is shorter, reaching down around mid-thigh. His pants are slimmer and striped. He wears a jacket over his barong in principalia style, along with the requisite European hat, leather shoes, neckerchief and cane to signal class status. Image from The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines National Wear (1986) by Visitacion R. de la Torre.