What is a Pareo? What are the Pareo Types?

The pāreu or pareo, is the Cook Islands and Tahitian word for a wraparound skirt. Originally it was used only to refer to women’s skirts, as men wore a loincloth, called a maro (source: Wikipedia). But as the beach fashion designers have been providing ladies with more and more options to cover-up, meaning of the word pareo has been expanded to cover almost any dress that could be worn on the beach. From a simple cloth to a kaftan, from a dress to a skirt; recently all beach attires are generally named as “pareo” in many countries. It is an easy word to use and explain what you are looking for, and also convenient for the producers to group their beachwear products into a category.

Pareo, as explained above, can be in many forms but the most preferred pareo types are:

  1. Sarong: Usually 1 to 1.3 m. length rectangular cloth to wrap around and tie at the front. It could be used as a skirt or dress, depending on the wrapping style and easy to use.
  2. Beach Dress: Refers to a large variety of models of dresses that could be worn over swimwear, but also could be worn separately. Materials are usually selected amongst cotton fabrics to ensure comfort and/or chiffon for a more breezy look.
  3. Classical Kaftan: Mostly inspired by oriental look, kaftans were first introduced as tunic or maxi tops with embroidery around the V-neckline. But as the beach style improved, kaftan models also expanded to different versions.
  4. Beach Robe: Comfortable to wear cover-ups with sleeves, made from various fabrics (towel, peshmetal, linen, cotton, chiffon, etc), that have open front and tied with a belt. They come in various lengths and models. Kimono robes, kaftan robes and bath robes are the most common types that are used as beachwear.
  5. Cover-up: Another phrase used for referring to a large variety of pareos. Cover-ups are generally designed to be worn over swimwear -not separately as a regular clothing-, as they aim to cover the body with a fabric but not necessarily clothe it as they could be transparent (a name well deserved). They could come in a huge variety of shapes and lengths as well.
  6. Shorts & Trousers: As they do in daily life, shorts and trousers are also an indispensable part of beach wear style. To be named under pareo group, they are mostly wrapped or made from transparent fabrics.
  7. Wrap-Up: Like sarong, but not limited to a rectangular long cloth, wrap-ups is a wider category to refer to a single cloth without full-stitching. They could have a semi-stitching to ensure a specific model is gained after wrapping, or no stitching.

As most of the pareos are grouped under the above categories, the imagination of fashion designers doesn’t have a limit. And of course, what to wear on a beach doesn’t depend on their names or categories. But if you are looking for something and don’t know how to refer to it, we tried to bring together the mostly preferred style names to your service. We hope it has been useful.