Everything to Know About the Balintawak Dress?

by Anne B. Robinson
3.6k views

In almost every country, there’s a traditional costume that the natives take pride in. Indians have saris, Scottish folks have their kilts, and Filipinos have their Balintawak dresses.

But what is a Balintawak dress? Read on to find out everything there is to know about it!

What Is the Balintawak Dress?

The Balintawak dress is a traditional costume native to the Philippines. It consists of puffy sleeves, shaped like butterfly wings, as well as short skirts. The dresses also have low-cut bodices, often featuring plaid or a floral texture.

The Balintawak was more common in Philippine’s countrysides. The Filipino women used to wear it in the ‘30s for picnics and outdoor activities.

The costume is believed to have originated in Antipolo, a city in Manila and one of the Philippines’ most popular tourist attractions. Antipolo has the famous statue of the Virgin Mary, which attracts considerable tourists every year. It’s basically a Catholic pilgrimage site, which explains why tourists often visit it.

The Modern Evolution of the Balintawak Dress

When the Balintawak first appeared, it was meant to show the rural side of the Philippines. It was also supposed to give a summery feeling, hence the use of butterfly sleeves and skirts.

In our modern world, it’s hard to find a woman strolling around in a Balintawak, considering the dress is now old-fashioned. However, that didn’t prevent fashion experts from upgrading it to match the modern era.

Now, dresses are designed with inspiration from Balintawak, often featuring butterfly sleeves and bodices and missing the short skirts and plaid textures.

Balintawak Dress: Honorable Mentions

A lot of Filipino celebrities prefer to preserve their traditional identity. That’s why they often wear modern versions of the Balintawak dress, with most of its original features intact.

For example, for the ABS-CBN Ball in 2019, Kathryn Bernardo chose a Balintawak-style dress made by a Filipino designer called Michael Cinco.

Michael’s dress was meant to show the rural side of the Philipines, using butterfly sleeves and a tight bodice. On the other hand, he wanted to illustrate the luxury of his creation, which explains why he adorned it with Swarovski crystals.

Generally, the Balintawak dress was featured in a lot of artworks, and not just dresses. In most vintage Filipino photographs, you’ll find the women proudly wearing their Balintawak.

The Takeaway

The Balintawak dress is a traditional Filipino costume that features butterfly sleeves and short skirts. Despite the modern era coming and changing a lot of things as we know them, the Filipino women still wear Balintawak, modernized to match today’s fashion.

If you have a costume party coming up soon, it’d be a unique idea to dress in a Balintawak. All you need is a skirt, a bodice, and a wrap-around cloth with a plaid texture!


Featured image source: Pinterest

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