The Old Philippines archive of images is a source of immense inspiration. I love looking at the rarely seen fashion women wore in the Philippines at the turn of the century. The fabrics used were primarily the sheer piña fabric (pineapple fiber), abaca (banana fiber) and cotton. It's likely that the women photographed were part of the upper class or at least those who could afford to pay photographers.
The quintessential Maria Clara is a traditional and formal dress combining indigenous and Spanish influences is actually made up of separates (i.e. saya (skirt), baro with lacework (blouse), a matching pañuelo (scarf), inagua (slip), tapis (overskirt) and accessorized with an abaniko (fan)). This look was made popular towards the end of the nearly 400 years of Spanish rule.
As I look at these photos and wonder what it must have been like to be a woman during that time. I especially love this first photo. This woman is so beautiful, elegant, strong and dignified.
All images from Old Philippines