Clothing in Jamaica has started evolving like never before. Global fashion trends are on a rise, though quite a few people still opt for old, traditional styles.
Jamaican clothes are comfortable and flamboyant at the same time, just like the mood of the place. From the land of the sun and sea, of coconut palms, reggae, and the Jamaican rum, we might not get a clothing style that is renowned, but it certainly is a style that is different. The temperatures here switch from pleasant to unbearable in a matter of minutes. The temperature is warm throughout the day and gets cool by night-fall and towards early hours of the morning. This variation is due to the country’s proximity to the sea and it is this variation that plays an important role in the clothes and textures people opt for.
What People Wore and Wear in Jamaica!
Jamaican clothes are observed to be very colorful, vibrant, loose and comfortable. The kind worn by UB40 and Bob Marley! Jamaica is synonymous with the reggae and rum and the mood is generally light and foot-loose-and-fancy-free.
Most Jamaican women wear handmade, traditional clothes. They wear a skirt, a blouse, and a head scarf made out of Calico. It is a sort of cotton cloth locally made and marketed. The scarf is draped around the head by folding it in half and tucked in to prevent from slipping. The blouses are usually short-sleeved because of the weather. The older women and individuals who frequent tourist spots dress in colorful clothes to reflect the culture, but most women opt for denims and tops/blouses.
Men in Jamaica wear pants and shirts, just like men in other parts of the world do. However, the fabric used for the attire is organic, not very colorful, sober, and classy in a unique way. They are not fond of bold designs or contrasting color combinations. In fact, they sport khakis, jeans, or shorts and light color combinations. Rastafarian men are usually spotted with a cap of sorts, and a colorful ensemble including red, green and gold as solid colors for their clothing.
Children are dressed, most of the time, in flimsy attire to beat the heat. The little boys wear banyan-like and/or short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, and short pants. They are seen sporting tie-heads whenever the heat becomes unbearable. The little girls wear short dresses,skirts or shorts and t-shirts and are as flamboyant as the boys. Both, the girls and the boys, usually sport short hair.
Footwear is common for mostly all age groups. It is open and more sandal-like. It is usually flat, but young girls can be seen flaunting high-heeled block shoes. Older women wear moccasin-like footwear that are slip-ons and the men wear open slippers like those observed in the Orient.
With its sun-kissed beaches and relaxed lifestyle, Jamaica not just affords breathtaking views but also makes an ideal destination for taking vows. Wedding attire for men and women takes inspiration from western wear, however, with preferences toward light airy fabrics.
Women choose to habilitate in casual sundresses in linen and cotton fabrics paired with either sandals or kitten heels. Wedding garbs are mostly mid-calf, so that the bride doesn’t have to grapple with the sand on her special day. This is not to say that the brides don’t favor the quintessential wedding gowns with a long train that proceeds behind lightly, but those are reserved for non-beach weddings.
After all, a groom is a groom, and like any other man who wants to look the part, slips into blazer for the elegant and formal look on his wedding. A Jamaican groom too, shows proclivity toward it. But a Jamaican beach wedding calls for the groom to embrace casualness – khaki shorts or trousers with floral shirts or button front shirts teamed with sandals or flip flops; however many couples go sans footwear (aww! the tender caress of the sand grains makes it extra special).
Jamaican party wear is akin to the Western one, but a beach party necessitates a laid-back and relaxed clothing. A sarong is an essential beach buddy for every woman and jibes with anything; be it a tank top, T-shirt, bikini or bathing suit. Women have a certain predilection for crocheted swimwear. They are also seen bedecking their hair with chaplets, with flowers that complement their beach attire.
Men’s beach wear is complete with board shorts or Bermuda shorts worn with a light and airy short sleeved shirt. Kids, too have their colorful beachwear choices – girls are seen in bright bathing suits or simply in T-shirts and shorts. Little men are seen in board shorts in typical Rastafarian colors, with or without a T-shirt.
Just like the fashion trends are changing the world over, so are the fabrics and patterns in Jamaica. The younger generation prefers sober colors. The older people however, still opt for traditional clothing. The fashion trends are changing rapidly in Jamaica, and today, there are a number of dedicated designers who are catering to the shift in personal preferences. Tourism and the resultant shift in the way of life of the locals is largely affecting Jamaican fashion.