It’s Sarong Place, It’s Sarong Time


The sarong has a power and mystique all its own. In my case, this influence is embarrassing as well.

A sarong evokes balmy, breezy beaches and images of voluptuous Dorothy Lamour in those Road To movies she made with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Although they were made before I was born, the sarong is timeless, and when one finally came to me unbidden, I was happy. Or so I thought.

Recently, I received a fabulous leopard sarong for my birthday. Made out of fine cotton, there were two pieces, one long and fringed and the other triangular and smaller. Although the smaller piece sort of resembled a halter-top, I could not fit it anywhere upon my person. Its two buttons offered neither clues nor solutions, as the space between them could not embrace even two fingers around. I concentrated on the bigger piece because it seemed workable, with the key word being “seemed.”

Even though I could sort of fasten the sarong with an end piece of its fringe, I couldn’t keep it on for more than a few minutes, no matter how hard I tried. My efforts brought new meaning to the term: “You can’t keep a good man (or woman) down.”

Once I was walking down the stairs and as I reached the first landing, I found myself as naked as the day I was born. A long piece of spotted material lay wrapped at my ankles, awaiting explanation. I’ve tried different ways of putting it on: starting from the back to the front, the front to the front, the front to the side, the side to the other side, upside-down and inside out.

Strangely, I feel at a loss for options.

I can wear the sarong as a temporary sheath, but unless I want to do my errands topless, I really do have a problem. The smaller piece is too small for anything and the larger one, well, you know about the larger one. So what is a person and her sarong to do?

I suspect that women who wear saris could help me if they really wanted to.  I unfortunately, do not know any of them or anyone else who does. I used to see many saris and they seemed to remain on the bodies of those graceful ladies as they went about their daily business. Somehow, they managed to wrap one piece of several yards of material around their bodies and fasten it in some very mysterious fashion.

Apart from being hopeless to decipher if you are outside of the culture that created them, the sari and the sarong are similar but different. How so, you say? So glad you asked.  They are both made from one length of fabric, but they are ties differently (I say this even though as far as I am concerned, this explanation is no help at all).

The sarong comes from the Pacific Islands; I am from Brooklyn. Perhaps that’s the problem right there.  It is made by wrapping a single large, square or rectangular piece of fabric around the body, either the waist, above the bust, or tied about the neck. A sari is actually a style of dress which includes a tunic or tee-shirt, and a long narrow piece of fabric wrapped about the body to form a skirt and sash.

Friends are absolutely no help at all. After they laugh, they say good luck. My boyfriend smiles and encourages me to wear it, although not in public. It isn’t funny though, because I want so much to make my sarong a viable part of my wardrobe.

Even the Internet is no help. I found diagrams marked a, b and c for fringe dresses, tie dresses, wrap dresses, scarves, bottom fringe skirts, fluff top dresses, jumpsuits, and butterfly jackets! Of all these possibilities, I still can’t figure out what goes where and how to keep the damn sarong fastened.

Every day I try a little. I think, ‘Now you got it! Dorothy Lamour, eat your heart out!’ And then, poof! It’s gone with the wind and other places further south.

According to Dr. Phil, there is no reality, only individual perception. Does that mean there is no real nudeness but just the discernment of the same? The philosophical repercussions are alarming, but no more so than managing to stay dressed, even in the privacy of my own home.

If you have any suggestions, please send them along.

And let me know if you are interested in owning a slightly used, positively beautiful and completely useless sarong!

(photo courtesy of Alxyago/


**Marjorie Dorfman who is also known as M Dee Dubroff, is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. She now lives in Doylestown, PA with one cat named Mr. Biscuit and her significant other, a graphics artist and former designer of postage stamps, both of whom keep her on her toes at all times.  For more fun articles, visit!