The Evolution of the Terno

By  - 8 years ago

Classic. Elegant. Beautiful.

Characterized by pressed butterfly sleeves that point upward, the terno is a narrow, one-piece long dress that is unique only to the Philippines.


Imelda Marcos in a Joe Salazar terno

It evolved from the traje de mestiza dress, which was inspired by the Maria Clara dress.


Traje de Mestiza dress


Maria Clara dress

The Maria Clara originated from the baro’t saya, which includes a sarong that is common among Southeast Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.


Baro’t saya


According to Mark Lewis Higgins, co-author of “Fashionable Filipinas: An Evolution of the Philippine National Dress in Photographs 1860-1960”, the terno is distinct to us because it is a unique hybrid of both Eastern and Western cultures.

Traditionally, the dress should be worn in a “dignified” manner, which is why its silhouette should not look slouchy nor sexy. The length of the dress much reach the floor, and ideally, the neckline must not show cleavage. Over the years, however, designers have added their own modern interpretations to this uniquely Filipino dress.



Heart Evangelista in a Joey Samson fantasy cage terno


Liz Uy in a modern terno


Ilocos senior board member Ria Farinas sporting a dress with soft terno sleeves by Chris Diaz


Tootsy Angara in a Cordillera-themed Rajo Laurel terno dress


Megan Young, Miss World 2013


Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach in an Albert Andrada emerald green terno

The terno is sophisticated, and is rich in Philippine history. True enough, it’s like no other dress in the world!