The manner that we dress clearly defines our personality or identity and so as our national costume which relates to a specific historical period, speaks of the country and cultural heritage where we belong. Although many of national costumes of various countries have been modernized and tailor-made for the modern men and women of today, the essence that these costumes represent still remain.
The 20th century has brought drastic changes in the way people dress. Globalization has indeed made us speak the same language, eat the same food and share the same passion for fashion as seen in the way most of us dress today. The clothes of today have so many variations in style, colors and patterns compared to the ones they have some decades ago. Thus it only shows that preferences, just like the human species, have evolved.
Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, who are more conservative owing to their religious beliefs and practices, wear more conservative-looking costumes such as the abaya for women and thawbs for men along with other accessories such as headgear that go with their costume. The abaya, which is worn on top of another dress whenever women go outside the house, is a long black dress with long sleeves that covers women from head to ankles.
Nowadays, it has become more fashionable and elegant-looking, adorned with beads, laces and embroideries because of fashion designers’ ideas. The thawbs, on the other hand, is usually a white full-length loose garment, made of cotton and sometimes wool during the winter paired with a sirwal, which is a loose ankle-length undergarment. Just like the modernized abaya, the thawbs too have become fashionable-looking as the cuffs have been adorned with silver or diamond and other precious stones.
The Filipiniana of the Philippines called Barong Tagalog for men on the other hand, popularized by the late President Ramon Magsaysay is made of lightweight, slightly below the waist and flimsy Pina, jusi or banana fabric worn over an undershirt. Today, there have been so many variations as to color, style and decorative details such as lace inserts and appliqués as an answer to the calls of fashion. The women’s Filipiniana has so many variations such as baro’t saya, Maria Clara, Balintawak and nowadays, more modern and more elaborate versions have been designed to accommodate the changing fashion styles of women.