Friday, 13 April 2012

Sarong? So Right!

Bad pun aside, let's take a look at an iconic dress style of the 40's and 50's: the sarong dress. 30's and 40's starlet, Dorothy Lamour, helped to popularise the sarong dress. Six of her films featured her in a sarong-style dress, earning her the nickname 'Sarong Girl'.

Dorothy Lamour first wears a sarong dress in the film "Jungle Girl"

Many vintage brands cleverly jumped on the bandwagon and began producing their own version of the sarong dress. Some of these designers include: Kamehameha of Hawaii, Surf Riders, Paradise Hawaii and, of course, the legendary Alfred Shaheen.

Things were made to last in the post-war years, there's no denying that! Luckily for us, this means that many of these stunning garments are still around and in excellent wearable condition. A couple of things to note however. When buying a vintage sarong dress, expect to pay the big bucks. Especially if the dress carries a big name like Alfred Shaheen. For a Shaheen dress, you may expect to pay anywhere (and certainly upwards!) of $250 US dollars. Eep! Another point of interest is that many of these vintage sarong dresses were designed to suit a slender, yet voluptuous figure. I have often perused through vintage dresses thinking that women of the 50's were living, breathing hourglasses. It wasn't until recently that I discovered the secret of foundation underwear! A good waist cincher can take up to 3-4 inches from your waistline! Apparently, the mid-century misses and designers all knew this. Wearing good, strong foundation wear was the norm. Knowing this makes buying vintage less of a shock. On a good day, my waist is something like 27 inches in circumference. Many vintage sarongs average about 24 inches in the waist area. Holy smokes!

My darling Alfred Shaheen flat measures at 12 inches at the waist. That makes it 24 inches in circumference! Rest assured , I'm not getting into this bad boy without the help of a good waist cincher and the handy shirred panels at the back! My dress also features a sweet, detachable sash.

Don't let this daunt you though. Many reproduction and vintage inspired brands have tried their hand at sarong dresses. Not only are these dresses built for more modern women, but they don't necessarily carry the hefty price tag. Additionally, they are made from quality materials and come in fun prints!

Here are some of my favourites :)

Deadly Dames "Malibu" dress designed by the  fabulous Micheline Pitt and retailed for $122. This dress was a favourite of Amy Winehouse and there are talks by the designer to re-release it. Yay! 

Paradise Dress in Katrina print by Heartbreaker Fashion retails between $80-$100 US. Available in Leila print only from Have a look around with this dress though. It's still available in the Katrina print, but you have to hunt for it.

Dixiefried's "Tiki Twist!" retails for $130 US from This dress is in my personal collection and I find it runs a bit big! You can easily size down due to the shirring at the back. Also available in black and gold brocade.

Tara Starlet's sarong dress retails for  £75. Available in different prints and colours from 

The Shaheen Dream by Whirling Turban. Available in lots of different prints and styles from This baby carries a higher price tag at $210 US.

Bernie Dexter for Babygirlboutique available for $89 US at

Some good places to hunt for vintage sarong dresses:

The sarong dress is  perfect for those sultry summer night parties and events. Some sexy springolators, a tiki bamboo bag, cocktail in hand and you're good to go!

Happy Friday x

No comments:

Post a Comment