The Barong Tagalog exhibits the loose, long lines of
its Chinese sources, the airy tropical appearance of Indo-Malay
costume, the elongated effect of Hindu dressing, and the
ornamental restraint of European men's clothing.
The barong appears to have retained its essential look
since it was first worn. Through the years, almost imperceptibly,
the barong's round neck, straight long sleeves and mid-thigh
hemline were ingeniously modified with collar, cuffs and side
Connoisseurs of historical details say that during the
Spanish era, the rulers required that the baro of the indio be
made of flimsy material so that he could not conceal weapons on
Supposedly, the indio was also prohibited from tucking
in his shirt, to designate his low rank and to tell him apart
from the mestizaje and insulares.
In a lighter vein, some speculate that the indio's baro
did not have pockets because he was poor and did not have money
to put in them anyway.
Such details of costume history may well be apocryphal-
if we consider that the fabric of the barong were traditionally
either abaka, pina or jusi. And these fabrics were naturally sheer,
flimsy and semi-transparent, with a stiffness that discourages
tucking, and a fineness that would sag with sewn pockets.