Traditional to Modern: the Filipiniana Dress as a Staple in Celebratory Clothing | Tygie

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Traditional to Modern: the Filipiniana Dress as a Staple in Celebratory Clothing

by Ayam

The Filipiniana dress has gone through multiple variations before it turned into the modern Filipiniana dress we know today. But look closer and you will notice that all these variations have something in common — the Filipiniana dress has always been a staple in celebratory clothing. Just take a look at depictions of celebrations from the pre-colonial to the colonial era of the Philippines and you are bound to see Filipina women sporting their favorite Filipiniana dress. From the richest aristocrats to the humblest housewives, this type of clothing was their go-to for any special occasion.

However, throughout the years, the use of the Filipiniana dress during special occasions became limiting. As clothing for modern activities became more casual, the Filipiniana dress started to spend most of its time in its owner’s closet, waiting for the perfect event to be brought out. The spotlight that used to be on the national dress of the Philippines was then turned into more high-fashion international designs.

The last few years have seen a boom in the promotion of local products. With it comes the resurgence of the Filipiniana dress, but in more modern designs fitting for the everyday life of a Filipina woman. With local clothing brands putting more of an effort into modernizing the traditional Filipiniana dress, more and more women are starting to rediscover the beauty of this piece of clothing.

Interested to know more? Read on to learn about the evolution of the Filipiniana dress as a staple in celebratory clothing from the pre-colonial era up until modern times.

Tygie: Modern Filipiniana Dress


Tygie is a clothing brand that takes pride in the further evolution of modern Filipiniana dress is Tygie. This home-grown Filipino brand was started by Teodora “Tygie” Gonzales. With this company, she aims to elevate traditional Filipina garments in order to diversify its use for both formal and casual use. In order to do so, Ms. Gonzales has teamed up with a talented team of designers to create dresses that integrate the traditional & elegant look with the more modern style of current society.

Jennylyn Hinabue Dress
Let’s take a look at Tygie’s Jennylyn Hinabue Dress. This style looks more like the traditional Filipiniana dress that we are used to. Made from woven local fibers that give off an almost translucent look, this dress encapsulates the elegance and femininity of Filipina women. However, the dress also highlights a more modern style by having an A-Line styled waist that will show off your figure.

Barong Dress
Found within Tygie’s impressive lines are various styles of barong dresses. Styles such as the Aladi Barong Dress are a combination of the two popular cultural styles of clothing for both men and women. The top of this dress has the same style as a traditional collared Barong Tagalog with long sleeves. The barong dress seamlessly transitions as it makes its way down into a more traditional dress design. The embroidery of a barong dress also combines the two styles found on ternos and Barong Tagalogs.

As the image of femininity slowly transitions from a meek and gentle image to a more bold one, so does the style of Filipiniana dresses. Let us explore the steps that the Filipiniana has taken in order to become the style that it is today.

The Filipiniana Dress As A Symbol of Femininity

As the mindset regarding femininity changed throughout the history of the Philippines, so did the expectations society had on how women should dress. The pre-colonial times saw a style that showcased the equality of the status of men and women. Then, the colonial times introduced the division between the gender roles of men and women in society. After numerous years, women started to rediscover the power in their femininity as the fight for liberalization continued.

Baro’t Saya in the Pre-Colonial Times
The discovery of illustrations within the Boxer Codex gave us a look into the status women had in their communities. Dated as far back as the 16th century, these images showed women wearing long-sleeved shirts embroidered with golden embellishments to showcase their high status. They were worn over wrap-around skirts made of lightweight materials. The style of their clothing was almost exactly the same as that of the men in the illustration, which tells us that the status of men and women back then were equal.

Baro’t Saya in the Colonial Times
As Christianity started to spread around the Philippines through the Spanish colonization, so did their standards towards the modesty of women. Women are now expected to be soft-spoken and obedient. This, paired with European fashion trends, created a four-piece ensemble — the Baro’t Saya. This type of clothing completely covered up a woman’s figure in order to give them a more conservative, elegant, and demure image. This mindset is perfectly captured by Jose Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere with the character of Maria Clara.

After the Americans defeated the Spanish for control of the country, their more liberated views started to take effect on traditional Filipiniana clothing. Silhouettes became slimmer, sleeves were shortened, and the panuelo shifted from a stiff fabric into a softer one. This gave way to the revolution for the further liberalization of women, which brought about even more changes to the traditional style of clothing. As the styles started to become more shape-flattering, the baro’t saya eventually transitioned from a four-piece ensemble into a single dress.

Celebratory Clothing Through The Years: Baro’t Saya To The Terno

From the liberalization of women came the new style of traditional Filipiniana clothing, the Terno. It was a one-piece dress tightly cinched around the waist with puffy sleeves that emphasized the female body. This style showcased how women were more open to highlighting the curves of their body. It is also the basis for a number of modern Filipiniana dress wear.

The use of Terno for official celebrations was further solidified due to then-First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. The late dictator’s wife would wear the Terno so often that it was deemed as her “uniform”. From local celebrations to business trips all over the world, Terno became known as the identity of Filipina formalwear. This is also the time of the addition of butterfly sleeves, which added to the uniqueness and distinguishability of the Filipiniana dress.

As the country went through changes brought about by globalization and modernization, so did the styles of Filipiniana dresses. In order to compete with the number of international clothing coming into the country, local clothing brands needed to make a change, and they needed to do it fast. They experimented with different colors and various local fibers. They took inspiration from artists from all over the country in order to create dresses that were inherently Filipiniana.

As the varieties of Filipiniana dresses increased, so did the number of Filipina women who wanted to show off the local style during special occasions. Read on to learn about modern Filipiniana dresses and how each style can be suited for a number of events.

Heirloom as a Wedding Dress

If you are looking for a modern Filipiniana dress to wear for your wedding, then you should consider taking a look at Tygie’s Heirloom category. This is specially designed by the owner herself in collaboration with other designers. The dresses found in this category pay homage to the traditional blouse and skirt Terno, albeit with a more modern style and cut. It retains translucent woven local fabrics and hand-embroidered designs, giving off an aura of elegance and beauty. This type of dress would definitely ensure that you will stand out as the bride of your special day.

There are certain types of events that only come once in your life, in which case, you should go all out with your attire. Besides your wedding day, another important event that only comes once in your life is your graduation day.

Hakamiza Dress For Your Graduation Day

Look your best as you take your final bow with Tygie’s Hakamiza Dress. This modern Filipiniana dress is a well-fitted sleeveless dress that has a standout barong-like collar. The cocktail-like length of this dress will also keep you cool as you wait for your name to be called amidst the thousands of other graduates. The light-colored shade would also fit well with any kind of toga or sash you would get from your specific university. Show off your preparedness to take on the real world by choosing a dress that exudes dignity and respect.

Besides events that only happen once in your life, there are also dresses to help you celebrate another fruitful year.

Efraim Dress For Birthdays

Are you looking for something bright and fun to celebrate your birthday? Well then, Tygie has the perfect modern Filipiniana dress for you. The Efraim Dress is a red-colored knee-length dress that can bring you luck in the next year of your life. The dress highlights different shades of red – from a shiny, silky-like material to light, see-through sleeves. The dress also has built-in collars with embellished stones that glimmer in the light. Choosing to wear this specific type of dress will definitely turn you into the life of the party.

Celebrating another year of your life is an important life event. Another important life event that you will experience is your accomplishments in your respective field. Be prepared to get down to business with modern Filipiniana clothing.

Get Down To Business With the Josefa

Every year during the Philippines’ State of the Nation Address (SONA), female lawmakers prefer to showcase multiple styles of traditional and modern Filipiniana dresses. Some opt for the more traditional, woven fiber style while others go for dresses dyed into bright colors with multi-colored embellished gems. With your very own modern Filipiniana dress, you will definitely turn heads no matter what business event or seminar you might be attending. Establish your presence as a strong businesswoman during formal corporate events with Tygie’s more traditional dress, the Josefa Filipiniana Gown.

Part of Tygie’s goals for their modern Filipiniana dress is for it to become a staple part of everyday Filipina’s lives. This has pushed them to further innovate the traditional Terno design in order to make it suitable to be worn for any type of occasion.

Shake it at a Party With the Aziela Dress-blazer

One of Tygie’s innovations is the Aziela Dress-Blazer. The length of the piece is as long as a dress and is made of beige cocoon silk. The uniqueness of this modern Filipiniana dress hinges on its blazer-like style. More traditional customers may argue over the categorization of this item as a dress, but it just goes to show how Filipiniana clothing has evolved through the years. The piece is meant to be worn over a top or a bralette, making it the perfect piece to complete your party outfit.

Besides dresses suited for social activities, Tygie also has Filipiniana dresses that can show off your style while you go through your everyday routines.

Midi Chemise Dress as Everyday Wear

If you want to look stylish while in a business meeting, grocery shopping, or even just grabbing some lunch, then you should consider taking a look at Tygie’s Hand Painted Midi Chemise Dress in Matte Gold. This knee-length sleeveless dress is the perfect balance of work and play. The Matte Gold color mixed in with the hand painted flowers will make you a sight to behold.

No matter what type of celebration you will be attending, show off your nationalism and your femininity with a modern Filipiniana dress. Check out Tygie’s pieces that highlight the Philippines’ finest designs.

Look Your Best While Celebrating Your Special Occasions with Tygie!

Look your best while celebrating your special occasion by wearing a modern Filipiniana dress from Tygie. Pay homage to the powerful women of the past by keeping traditional Filipiniana clothing alive. At the same time, show off your independence and strength with these modernistic designs that can compete with the international fashion industry. Take a stand and show off your femininity with designs that highlight tradition and modernization in one.

Turn heads during special occasions with a modern Filipiniana dress from Tygie!
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