Having returned from the beautiful island of Bali several week ago, I can say with complete honesty that I didn't shop much, but the items I did purchase are top-quality classic pieces that ought to withstand faddy fast-fashion trends. My prized purchase? A gorgeous silk sarong by Quarzia, a business owned by an Italian family that made Bali their home.
The "100% Silk" window signage drew me into the boutique in Seminyak. I mean, who doesn't want to indulge in the soft embrace of this strong, crisp textile? "I just love your dress!" I exclaimed. The sales lady blushed and gave thanks for the compliment, and that immediately sparked a lesson in sarong-tying. There was so much to love and want; silk trousers, silk kaftans, silk dresses, silk blouses, raw silk garments - all handwoven in vibrant colours and beautified with special prints, but I had to make a sensible choice. I settled on a creamy-gold tone distinguished by splashes of black and pink, and then chose two shell 'pins'- tools needed to create certain styles.
About two metres in length, a simple piece of silk is printed with their unique design and hemmed on all sides to put a luxurious spin on the humble sarong, so much so, that it goes from being an 'over swimsuit' modesty scarf in western mindsets to a designer one-piece wonder that can transform in various innovative ways, to be repeated countless times as day wear.
It was never my intention to splurge on something so 'basic' in design but I was sold when I discovered the potential it offered, and since I'm all about buying good-quality garments so that they can last longer and be kept out of landfills for longer, this purchase ticked all my eco-fashionista checkboxes.
There are loads of videos online demonstrating how to tie a sarong in countless styles, but before you get started, note that owning a pretty pin widens the style possibilities and while sarongs can be created from just about any fabric, using a fabric that's thin really makes the tying process that much easier. If you can't find a pin locally (pic above), try making your own and bling it up however you can imagine.
Here are my favourites:
1. The dress
Hold the sarong open at the back of you, bring the top corners to the front and cross them over taking one corner over the opposite shoulder and the other corner under the other shoulder. Thread the one corner (that goes over the shoulder) through the pin, and then tie the two corners together at the back.
2. The shorts
I love this one! It's especially ideal if you're wearing a bodysuit or full swimming costume. Hold the sarong longways behind you. Tie it around your waist so that the knot is at the front. Then, pull the fabric up between your legs and knot it the back of your waist. You can expose the front knot as I did :)
3. The skirt
This one is super-easy and needs no explanation. Basically, you just gather and knot the fabric in any way that flatters your figure.
4. The top
If you're wearing a bikini top and shorts in preparation for an early morning dip, then this style is great for coverage at the breakfast buffet.
Gather the sarong sideways and tie it at the shoulder. From the bottom, turn the fabric up towards the waist until you achieve the perfect length and then tie the loose corners at the side. I moved the shoulder knot backwards so that some of the fabric could drape over my arm.
5. The jacket
Eek. This one's complicated and I believe there's room for improvement to my method. Basically, you have to create a twist/knot in the middle of the length (or use a pin as pictured above), and then create armholes by tying the corners together.
For demonstrations on how to create other styles, watch this video on the Quarzia blog.