Every morning in high school, I would wait for school to start with my friends outside of the band room (yes we were those kids). It was always cold in the mornings since our campus lingers at the top of a mountain, so Kaiʻolu kept warm with a different colored pareu each day. A pareu is a colorful patterned piece of fabric that’s traditionally worn and used by people throughout the islands of Polynesia. Kaiʻolu owns many beautiful pareus and she often let me borrow one when I got too cold or when I wanted to cover my burning head at band practice. After four years of stealing her beautiful pareu in every occasion, Kaiʻolu bought me my own one from Tahiti during her study abroad semester. And it wasn’t until I used mine almost every day that I realized how essential a pareu is for every person!
The pareu seems like such a humble and unassuming piece of cloth that’s most often used as clothing, but it can be even more than that. Of course, my favorite way to style it is by folding it in half and wrapping/tying it around my waist as a mini coverup when I go to the beach (I’m still uncomfy with my body, okay?), but I also lie on it as a towel and wrap my wet hair into a twist once I step out of the ocean. Some people purchase thicker and more luxurious pareu that can be tied in a multitude of ways and worn as event-ready dresses and skirts. I take my pareu on every single plane ride and road trip because it makes the most cozy blanket without being too bulky. Whenever I go to Triangle Park to nap and watch Netflix with Brandon, I make sure to bring the piece as an everyday mat. Tied and used correctly, the pareu can also become a bag, shawl, top, scarf, or head wrap! Pareus are affordable and bold and they’re a must have in every household!