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Although the word pareo and sarong are used almost interchangeably today to mean a beach wrap, this was not always the case.  The pareo traces its roots back to French Polynesia, where it was traditionally made of items including banana leaf, coconut fiber, ulu (breadfuit) bark, and paper mulberry bark.

Pareo's are so versatile and easy to wear, from a simple wrap around cover-up to more intricate styles but this is very different from the way that pareos were worn in ancient Tahitian times.  Women wore pareo's as skirts until European explorers arrived and introduced their western dress sense of modesty, which influenced Tahitian women to wear their pareos as a one-shoulder dress.  

Today, sarongs are made of a variety of materials, including cotton, silk, polyester and rayon.  IN the heat of the tropics, natural fabrics are recommended.  The wraps tend to emphasize the bight colors and beautiful designs such as florals and lively island prints.