French, British, and Italian Women Never Travel Without This One Item

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Indulge me for a moment... you're heading off to a far-off destination, and you're only allowed to bring a small suitcase—what's coming with you? A slew of miniature beauty products, perhaps? Comfortable walking shoes? Everyone's packing list differs based on the destination, sartorial preferences, and even the planned travel time. But without a doubt, there's one universal travel staple that doesn't always get its proper due when drafting up these packing lists: the sarong. 

Arguably the most underrated resort item is the sarong, scarf, or pareo. It's an item that is often passed over during the packing process. Part of the common apprehension around choosing to take a sarong on vacation is valid; not only do they take up precious space in the carry-on, but knowing how to tie a sarong properly can feel like an undue burden when you're just trying to relax. Add on top of the fact that sarongs can sometimes feel like they teeter into that tourist starter-pack territory far too often. Doubts aside, I can assure you that packing a sarong for any upcoming trip isn't a mistake

To prove why you should be packing this piece, I've scoured the vacation grams of French, Danish, Italian, British, and American women in fashion to showcase how to wear a sarong. Ahead, find 21 outfit ideas, tying tips, and some of the best sarongs you can shop for now. But if these tips and outfits don't convince you to make space in your suitcase, nothing will.

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Sunglasses + Layered Necklaces + Printed Bikini + Sarong + Belly Chain
(Image credit: @amaka.hamelijnck)

One of the easiest ways to style a sarong? A matching set. You can't go wrong with wearing a printed bikini with a matching sarong. Just be sure to add your own spin by adding fun accessories—e.g., a belly chain, layered necklaces, or statement shades. 

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Sunglasses + Hoop Earrings + Sarong + Linen Trousers + Handbag
(Image credit: @juliamateian)

Newsflash, sarongs can be styled in various ways while you're traveling. If you need a casual day-to-night look, try turning your sarong into a sultry halter top (editor's note: you'll want to try this at home before you take off to ensure you know how to tie it properly). Take the middle of your sarong and place it on the back of your neck, bring both ends of the scarf forward, cross them over your chest, and tie it in the back. Finish off the look with a breezy pair of pants and great accessories, and you'll be ready for wherever the night takes you.

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Sunglasses + Woven Bag + One-Piece Swimsuit + Sarong
(Image credit: @coco_floflo)

Searching for a more traditional way to tie your sarong for an upcoming trip? Look no further than the look above. A simple one-piece swimsuit can be elevated with a contrasting sarong and shoulder bag. 

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Cropped Puff-Sleeve Top + Sarong + Anklet + Kitten Heels
(Image credit: @oumaymaboumeshouli)

The beauty of packing a sarong is that it can be casual and formal, depending on the styling. For those trying to achieve the latter, don't be afraid to go bolder with your look—e.g., try pairing a cropped puff-sleeve top with a long contrasting-hue sarong, chunky anklet, and kitten heels. 

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Sarong + Bikini Top + Linen Trousers + Tote Bag + Thong Sandals
(Image credit: @alyssainthecity)

Who said you just had to wrap a sarong around your hips? Should you forget to pack a sun hat, take inspiration from the outfit above and try wrapping your sarong as a kerchief headscarf. Finish your look with a colorful bikini, tote, and linen trousers. 

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Sarong + Colorful Trousers + Woven Bag + Heels
(Image credit: @spiritedpursuit)

Not to sound like a broken record, but again there are so many different ways to wear a sarong, including as a crop top. Based on the size of your pareo, you'll want to either fold it or lay it down flat, stretch it evenly across your back, pull it to the front, and then create a knot. After you've tied your sarong tight enough as a top, you can finish off the look with a colorful pair of trousers, heels, and a woven bag. 

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Asymmetrical Tank + Wrap-Around Sarong + Handbag + Flip-Flops
(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Another simple way to wear your sarong outside the designated pool area is by making a few minor swaps. Rather than wearing a swimsuit top, opt for a tank top with special details like an asymmetrical cut. Instead of going barefoot, throw on a cute pair of sandals. And then switch out the large tote bag for a smaller handbag, and you've got the perfect casual day look. 

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Sunglasses + Layered Jewelry + Bikini + Print Sarong
(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

Besides wearing your sarong past the resort property lines, one way you can make this "cliché" item feel cool is by focusing on the details. For example, if you're buying a new sarong, choose one in a trend-forward print or vibrant hue to make this piece feel punchier. And if you're reusing an old sarong, make it feel fresher by tying it in a way that makes it look like a micro-skirt—i.e., fold the scarf in half diagonally to make it shorter, then tie it around the waist.

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Cropped Button-Down + Sarong + Handbag + Mules
(Image credit: @bettinalooney)

For a more classic take on styling sarongs, look to the outfit above as your blueprint. Pair a printed pareo with a cropped button-down, mules, and a handbag, and you'll be the best-dressed guest wherever you're staying in the world. 

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Earrings + One-Piece Swimsuit + Colorful Sarong
(Image credit: @laurennicolefk)

Another way you can stand out from the sea of tourists is by using your sarong to tell a color story. Whether you choose to opt for a contrasting one-piece and pareo (like above) or pair a vibrantly printed sarong with a matching suit, playing with color is a surefire way to stand out. 

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Sunglasses + Floral Choker + Bikini Top + Oversize Button-Down + Skirt + Slingback Heels
(Image credit: @hannamw)

Are you still low-key stressing about how to tie a sarong? Enter the wrap skirt. If you're not trying to learn how to tie a sarong while on vacation, packing a skirt that looks like a sarong (even though it's not) is the way to go. 

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Sarong + Bandeau Top + Bikini Bottoms + Drawstring Trousers
(Image credit: @jullie.jeine)

Besides foregoing the whole sarong experience on your trip, there is another easy way you can style this item—ahem, as a shawl. Not only does using a sarong as a shawl ensure you avoid having to tie anything on your trip, but if you so happen to be traveling to a destination that calls for modesty, this is a great way to adhere to cultural norms. 

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Denim Shoulder Bag + Cropped Tank + Bikini Bottom + Belly Chain + Sarong
(Image credit: @_magda__)

One more simple way to wear a sarong is by opting for a more relaxed approach to styling. Not only can you pair it with more casual pieces—e.g., a printed crop tank, belly chain, and denim bag—but if you don't want to be stressed about the tying process, you can use what I call the "under and over" trick. Essentially you'll take both ends of your sarong and line them up against your waist, and then you'll pull one end of the sarong under the other and then loop it back over the other and then tuck it through the open space again. While it's not a tight knot, if you pull it tight enough, it should stay. 

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Sunglasses + Bikini + Long Sarong
(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

Don't identify as a casual dresser? That doesn't mean you have to discount sarongs altogether. Instead of a short and colorful sarong with a looser knot, try going for a long black sarong. Ideally, you'll want a midi-to-maxi length because it will billow gracefully in the breeze and make a simple black bikini and sunglasses feel far more polished.

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Sunglasses + Shoulder Bag + Bikini Top + Sarong + Metallic Sandals
(Image credit: @taniasarin)

In addition to opting for an all-black outfit, another way to look polished while traveling is to opt for earth tones like brown, olive, camel, beige, and gold. Pair these hues together in the form of a bikini, sarong, sandals, and a shoulder bag, and you'll look positively radiant. 

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Oversize Sunglasses + Plisse Top + Sequin Sarong
(Image credit: @iziangus)

Repeat after me: pareos are perfect for a night out. If you plan on heading to a dance floor by the sea while traveling, don't pass out on the chance to pack an embellished sequin sarong (or wrap skirt). Not only will it make your swimwear shine, but if you style it with a cool blouse, shades, and sandals, you'll have the perfect going-out look. 

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Beaded Jewelry + Crochet Bikini + Sarong
(Image credit: @elsiematilda)

There are two types of vacations: the ones where you're doing the most (seeing all the tourist sites, going out to bars, etc.) and those where you're relaxing. If you're trying to do the latter, then the sarong outfit idea above might be more your speed. It doesn't get more chill than pairing a crochet bikini top with a sarong and beaded jewelry. 

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Hoops + Bikini Top + Colorful Sarong + Wrap-Up Heels
(Image credit: @meccajw)

Not the chill type? I get it. After all, the best thing about traveling is being able to be a little extra with your sartorial choices. And there's no better way to do that than pairing a brightly-hued sarong with wrap-up heeled sandals and oversized hoops. The photos you'll get alone in this outfit will make the trip worth it.

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Hoop Earrings + Faux Sarong Wrap Skirt + Matching Top + Strappy Sandals
(Image credit: @emnitta)

If you want to up the ante in terms of your vacation fits, you'll want to take cues from the above look and opt for a coordinating look. Ideally, you'll want to find a sarong with a matching top, but you can give off the same vibe by opting for a slinky wrap skirt and tie-up blouse. Just be sure to style your matching set with fun accessories like oversized hoops and strappy sandals to really seal the deal.

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