Seventies beach style still rocks
Rachel Zoe covers up in St Barths. Photo: Snapper Media
Celebrity uber-stylist Rachel Zoe has copped a lot of flak over the years for her alleged promotion of the size-zero body ideal - Nicole Richie was one of her first prominent clients - so it's great to see her on holiday in St Barts promoting a beach style that is every chubby girl's best friend.
Zoe is single-handedly making the pareo OK-o again. Hurrah! She was snapped wearing at least four different ones on her post-Christmas holiday. Some of them were in very jolly tropical prints but I think the black one (shown here) is particularly chic. Especially with the Panama hat cooling down the whole look.
So what is a pareo? Sarong, lungi, futah, sampot ... there are many names for the pieces of simple cloth worn as clothing in different cultures. A pareo is, strictly speaking, the Tahitian term for the brightly patterned fabric worn by men and women as skirts and dresses.
In fashion terms, though, the pareo was the 1970s name for a large piece of soft, slightly sheer fabric to be worn as a beach, or poolside, cover up. They are bigger and lighter weight than what I would call a sarong and therefore have much more potential for different draping effects. You can easily tie a knot when required.
The summer issues of the fashion magazines of my mid-'70s teen years were rich with articles showing the many different ways you could wear your pareo. For example, as a skirt, a halter-neck dress, a strapless wrap frock, a very scary Gandhi-style playsuit arrangement, or even as a natty beach bag.
The ultimate of this genre were the holiday-capsule wardrobe concept stories. These showed that all you needed to pack for two weeks of fun in the sun was a handful of bikinis, swimsuits and pareos, which you then combined with flats or heels and some witty pieces of feature jewellery. This rendered such combinations as: "Beach to Bar Stool" and "Deck Chair to Dance Floor".
My fashion director best boy pal Mark and I, born of the same era, can amuse ourselves for hours coming up with them. "Sun Bake to Bar Room", "Dive School to Disco" and "Poolside to Party" are some of our favourites. I think "Beach Bum to Bar Fun" was one of his. "Beach Hut to Total Slut" was probably mine.
The idea was you tied a pareo around your cossie, slicked back your hair, put on some bright pink lipgloss, giant earrings and a pair of strappy gold stilettos and went off to boogie to Dancing Queen under the stars. Oh, those were the days.
Mark and I have even been known to create the outfits (over our own clothes) with a handy tablecloth and the pooled accessories of all those around the restaurant dinner table. After a couple of weeks on the fashion-show trail, you can get a bit hysterical.
So for all these reasons I remember the pareo with great fondness.
Although the best thing of all is that you can use the darling thing to hide your fat bits with some style as you get up from your beach towel and head over to the bar.
Thanks, Rachel. I'll have a mojito pareo, por favor.
From S Magazine