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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 15, 2002

Pareus fit to be tied

• You can tie one on, too

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Tying a pareu

Dana Jacobe tied her top by starting from the front, taking the ends around the back and bringing them around again to the front, knotting them at center front. She turned the pareu (sometimes seen spelled "pareo") into a skirt simply by tying it in a double knot on the side. It can be wrapped around once or twice, depending on body width.

Photos by Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Made in Hawai'i Festival

Noon-9 p.m. tomorrow

10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Blaisdell Exhibition Hall


533-1292 or madeinhawaiifestival.com

A pareu is an ideal garment or accessory for island wear. It can be cute or chic, simple or sophisticated, taking on many moods and identities.

With a few deft flicks of the wrist, it can become a dress, skirt, halter top, tube top, malo, turban, shawl or jumpsuit. It can be worn over a bathing suit to the beach or over nothing at all for at-home wear.

Dress up a pareu with jewelry and strappy stilettos to go to a party, toss it in a beach bag for an after-swim cover-up or pack it into a suitcase to be worn throughout a summer vacation. It's also a unisex garment. In fact, some river guides in the Grand Canyon wear pareus in the evenings while they're cooking dinner or sitting around the campfire.

Since pareus are a staple for hula dancers, Syl Kop of the Hula Supply Center began designing fabrics for them. She has them printed in Japan or Sri Lanka and sewn locally.

Kop carefully researched fabrics to determine the best drape, deciding on 100 percent rayons, cottons and silk/cotton blends. She purchased an industrial Merro serger to create the tight cover stitch that makes the edges neat as a scarf and prevents fraying.

"A pareu needs to be lightweight and woven so it will drape across the body. It needs to look sexy and like the fabric is dancing," said Kop, who prefers the alternative spelling, "pareo."

Kop's pareus begin as 60-by-68-inch pieces of fabric. She cuts them in two, enabling the wearer to make a shawl, top or scarf out of the smaller (12- to 14-by-68-inch) piece and a dress, skirt, malo or pants out of the larger one. They sell for $40 a set at Hula Supply Center.

With these two pieces, Kop said, more than 100 different styles can be created. At the Made in Hawaii Festival this weekend, pareus will be sold at the Hula Supply Center booth and staff will demonstrate how to tie them.

Kismet Hawaii, owned by Kashmir Gellatly, is another Honolulu-based pareu company. Gellatly designs her fabrics in Hawai'i and has them printed in India on sheer rayon chiffon, rayon georgette, jacquard, polyester or cotton voile. The rayon chiffon pareus are accented with hand-painted gold. Arriving this week are samples of pareus with a beaded fringe.

Kismet Hawaii's pareus are 68 inches by 43, some with a fringe.

Gellatly features four ways to tie a pareu (called "pareo") on her Web site, www.kismethawaii.com. (Go to "Tie a Pareo.") Online, the cotton voiles sell for $17.95, while the chiffon are $19.95. There are plans to add more "how-to" photos in the future, making this a helpful online resource. The site also lists retailers that sell Kismet Hawaii pareus, including DFS Galleria, Tahiti Imports and Splash Hawaii.

• • •

You can tie one on, too

There are hundreds of ways to tie a pareu and scarf to turn it into a dress, malo, skirt or jumpsuit. Here are a couple of styles, using pareus from the Hula Supply Center on King Street in Honolulu.

Create a tube top

A tube top can easily be created with a scarf. Sharla Tang of the Hula Supply Center simply tied hers in the back and knotted it after tucking it into a strapless bra all the way around. Her short pareu was folded in half and double-knotted in the front.

Disguise that bra

Jasmine Orlando tied her scarf over a strapless bra, starting from the back, bringing it around to the front, up inside and over the bra. Her pareu was folded in half width-wise, wrapped around once and double-knotted at the hip.