The terno (from Spanish for "matching") is a type of Philippine traditional dress for women that is worn on formal occasions. It is a one-piece long dress with butterfly sleeves.
The terno evolved from the baro’t saya (blouse and skirt) which consisted of four parts — the camisa (a short blouse with sleeves), the alampay or pañuelo (a type of shawl worn over the camisa), the saya (a long skirt) and the tapis (a short overskirt wrapped around the saya).
By the early 19th century, the terno had acquired certain features. It was noted in 1803 by Fr. Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga that the Tagalog women wore "a kind of little shift, which scarcely reaches the navel." He described the alampay as a "handkerchief loosely covering the neck" and the saya as a "white linen cloth (which) encircle the body and is fastened by a button at the waist. They throw over this a colored stuff, manufactured by the inhabitants of Panay" — undoubtedly the tapis.
Eventually, as the sleeves got bigger, the pañuelo was found to be in the way and discarded. The tapis was also removed later to allow the skirt to flow gracefully and let all the fashion variations on it be seen. Thus only two matching ("terno") parts were left, the bodice and the skirt which were made of the same material, and became stitched together to form one dress.
With increasing Americanization, the terno became less fashionable after the 1930s but was revived in the 1970s by First Lady Imelda Marcos, who probably adopted it with the hope that it would show her to be one with the masses. Instead, the terno came to stand for the First Lady who became disparaged as "the Iron Butterfly" -- a reference to the terno's sleeves.
- Roces, Mina. "Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines" in KASAMA Vol. 19 No. 1 / January–February–March 2005 http://cpcabrisbane.org/Kasama/2005/V19n1/PoliticsOfDress.htm Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Dress