Early Hollywood knew how to spin dreams of exotic ports of call. The frazzled, grizzled hero sails into a sleepy lagoon. After he helps the peaceful villagers beat the bad guys, he falls in love with the island princess in her graceful sarong. All ends happily, as the hero settles down to a life of island indolence, waving goodbye to his urban past as the cargo ship sails off in the sunset.
Pure escapism - the sarong works every time.
This summer, fashion has decided we all need to get away from it all. Enough overachieving! It's time to retire the overworked expedition shorts and camp shirt combination, which suggests trekking, camping, going on safari or climbing something.
A sarong suggests nothing more strenuous than finding the nearest shaded hammock, sipping a tall, cool mai tai or wiggling your toes in the surf. Ahhhhhhh.
Sarongs can be wrapped at any price point.
There are four-figure designer originals, and there are fabric squares brought from street vendors.
You can try the ankle-grazing black and white batik patterns at Banana Republic, the short and earthy cotton colorations at Contempo Casuals or Ann Taylor's lined-and-refined silks which can be paired with an career summer jacket.
But let's get away from the office for now. A sarong travels very well. At its simplest, it can be folded and rolled in a duffel bag - no pleats to press, no buttons to lose. It can be toted in a beach bag to dress up a bathing suit for lunch or cocktails - very sexy with a bikini top, alluring with a tank.
Sarongs and hip wraps are true to their origins - they're most at home with rustic accessories. Polynesian florals, Asian batiks, Indian silks or African tribal weaves need little dressing up. They look comfortable with modest glass beads, shells or coral on a string, wooden bangles - even no trimmings at all.
You can shop for sarong looks at the mall, or in the world's bazaars. They look marvelous with hats and tourist totes bought at island straw markets.
They'll take well to trinkets proffered by beach vendors and they work fine with a last-minute purchase of a T-shirt from the airport gift shop.
Ways to Wrap it
There is a world of ways to wear a sarong.
-- Cover up with a hint of tease and wear a big shirt tied at the waist to reveal just a triangle of flesh. It's a bare look that doesn't show off.
-- Top a sarong with a clean-cut vest for a pulled-together trip to town.
-- Wear a sarong with the leanest tank and the biggest earrings and bracelets you own.
-- Choose the barest foot possible - gold thongs, buffalo sandals, strippy platform wedges, high-heeled slides. Perhaps just an ankle bracelet?
-- And if you're traveling light, tuck a flower in your hair. Just right.
ON THE COVER
Sarong $58 at Express stores
Styled by Pascale Lemaire
Hair and makeup by Eric Spearman/ T.H.E Artist Agency
0$ Modeled by Terry Land/ New Faces