Clothing and fashion are highly significant symbols of not just our identities but also the social and cultural ideals that have moulded the world in which we live. For this reason, Filipiniana garments such as the Maria Clara dress and the terno have played significant roles in Philippine history and culture. 

The Filipiniana: How Did It Evolve? 

The Filipiniana is a classic dress with oversized puffy sleeves, a long skirt (saya), a panuelo (a piece of fabric used as a head covering or as a scarf around the neck) draped over the shoulders, and a blouse (baro or Camisa). But the Filipiniana did not always make such an appearance. From ancient Filipino garb to the cutting-edge fashions of today, a quick glance at history's progression shows the evolution of this Philippine apparel. 

The Maria Clara

The baro't saya underwent further changes due to the widespread impact of Spanish colonists, a growing economy, and exposure to Western design. Maria Clara, named after Jose Rizal's heroine, quickly became the standard for chic and beautiful dress in the Philippines. 

A Maria Clara ensemble comprises four separates: a panuelo scarf, a panelled fabric, and a saya, or long skirt. An alampay was worn to display modesty, while a baro or Camisa blouse was traditionally crafted from jusi or pineapple fibre.

The Traje de Mestiza

There was a resurgence of interest in Maria Clara in the United States. It was due to a reworked novel version after the Spanish-American War. The baro sleeves were discarded in favour of the more extensive, striking butterfly sleeves. A more figure-hugging bodice took the place of the previous boxy one. 

The Tapis

Before the Spanish conquest, women in the Philippines used tapis, an unstitched fabric wrap skirt tied at the waist or below the bust. This garment was similar to the Indian sari and the Indonesian songket. This simple method of weatherproofing was accessible to anyone. Tapis clothing has deep cultural significance, especially in the northern part of Luzon. 

The Terno

The old traje de mestiza has been replaced by more modern styles. The panuelo shawl and the tapis overskirt were discarded in favour of the more practical and streamlined terno, which features the characteristic arched, flat sleeves. 

The Baro't Saya

Some sectors of Philippine culture adopted the use of lighter, more delicate materials like pineapple fibre, or pia, after being inspired by Spanish fashion. Weaving and embroidery with pineapple fibre is a uniquely Filipino art form that developed after pineapples were transported to the Philippines from South America as part of the Manila Galleon trade.

The Lourdes Barong Mestiza Dress takes its design cues from the Barong Tagalog. By showcasing traditional Filipino style with its iconic Filipiniana 'butterfly' sleeves and beautiful hand-embroidered front. 

Modern Filipiniana

Filipiniana is commonly connected with traditional Philippine clothes beginning with early pre-colonial costumes to the extravagant apparel of centuries ago. But the current trend of wearing modern Filipiniana tailored for today is a goal of many Filipinos worldwide. Modern Filipiniana keeps the grace and sophistication of traditional Filipiniana and combines Filipiniana into everyday clothes. 

The best way to incorporate our heritage into our wardrobe is through contemporary takes on traditional Filipino motifs. From the clothes we wear to work and school to those we wear to special occasions like weddings, proms, and other formal events. Philippine fashion, as evidenced by its history, is flexible and dynamic.

Our Mestiza Boleros will transform any dress into a trendy piece of modern Filipiniana clothing. An ideal way for today's Filipina to celebrate her heritage is at formal events like weddings, proms, and anniversaries. Made to be worn over other clothing, a bolero can transform any standard dress into a traditional Filipiniana gown. 

The Balintawak

The Balintawak is the more casual variation of the baro't saya, commonly represented in usage in the countryside. It has a shorter length, puffy sleeves, and a high-waisted bodice with checkered designs. When people think of the Balintawak, they usually picture a party, a relaxed rural vibe, and fun summer activities. 


The Philippine fashion industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Today, it is home to some of the world's most talented and creative designers. The country has produced many iconic fashion moments and has become a significant player in the global fashion industry. The future of Philippine fashion is bright, and we can expect to see more unique designs and creations coming out of this vibrant and creative country.

Mestiza Filipina is a curated collection of modern Filipiniana clothing, including traditional Philippine gowns, Barong Tagalogs, boleros, and more. These items are appropriate for formal and informal occasions, such as parties, weddings, workplaces, and everyday life. Filipino artisans crafted all our clothing by hand, which is available for international shipping. Come have a look at our collection today!

Written by Louisa Parkinson

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