Project Description

In the historical account of the Filipino women’s dress, the most prominent among them is the “Terno”. The terno comes from the Spanish word “to match” which was composed literally of two parts, the lower and the upper part.

The Filipino terno alludes to the matching of the blouse and skirt, joined at the waist to form a one-piece creation, with both bodice and skirt made of the same material. The terno as we know it today evolved from an ensemble called baro’t saya (blouse and skirt), transformed into the Maria Clara, which, in turn, was metamorphosed into the traje de mestiza.

The seamlessness is only one of its inventive features. The sleeves are upright, flat against the shoulders like clipped butterfly wings, the low neckline contours the bosom and the whole dress is nipped at the waist to let fall a shapely skirt that is rounded, flared or trailed at the hem.”

When the sleeves were clipped like butterfly wings the panuelo became cumbersome and was then removed. So, too, went the tapis, to allow the skirt to flirt with the whims of fashion. Skirt draping, shirring, folding, pleating, and layering were just some of the fashionable touches. The tail of the terno was in use until the early years of 1930s when its popularity started to wane.

At the start of the 19th century, the terno had acquired the features that were to distinguish it until the end of the colonial era. The terno, graced flores de mayo processions, rigodon de honor, coronation nights and the Malacañang Palace. It has been called a masterpiece, a classic, a national treasure.