Mexican clothing is a unique blend of native and European cultures. They are vivid, comfortable, and beautifully crafted. A variety of fabrics like cotton, silk, wool, and bark are brought into use to make them.
Mexico is a beautiful country that has a number of popular tourist destinations. It is the 11th largest economy in the world, in terms of population. But the most fascinating thing about the place, is its culture – a fusion of its pre-Hispanic past and the Spanish colonial period. The country is known for its cultural ethnicity, sumptuous cuisine, and unique traditional clothing.
Mexican garments can be separated into three major categories: traditional costumes, modern clothes, and celebration dresses. Nowadays, most Mexicans influenced by modern North American culture prefer contemporary clothing; but have maintained the use of traditional Mexican clothes and costumes for occasions.
A wonderful blend of Native American and European styles, these costumes are distinct and attractive. There is also evidence of a strong influence of Mayan and Spanish elements. Traditional Mexican clothing is available in many attractive varieties, where the major items of Mexican clothes and costumes are quechquémitl, huipil, rebozo, sombrero, including folklore dresses.
These costumes are made from a variety of fabrics, including cotton, agave, wool, silk, and bark. Cotton, agave, and bark were specifically used by the pre-Hispanic civilizations. Later on, the Spanish introduced silk and wool. Native Mexicans usually prefer earthy colors such as dark red or brown. However, they also like vivid green or bright yellow in their clothes. In the past, Mexicans dyed clothes with natural components present in local plants. With the discovery of aniline dyes in Europe, the Mexicans have adopted their dyeing technique, likewise.
Elderly people stick to fully traditional traje in spite of the younger generations resorting to modern, contemporary clothing. Embroidery is a characteristic of most costumes. E.g. Yucatan embroidery. Clothing is especially heavily embroidered for celebrations. There are different costumes for the traditional dances like Danza de los Arcos (white costumes with colorful sashes across the chest), Matlachines (brightly colored skirts, long tunics, and feathered headdresses), etc. Prominent Aztec influence is seen in the use of sun symbols, mythological depictions in embroidery, and beaded jewelry.
Traditional Mexican Costumes
Mexico comprising 31 states, clothing style changes as per region and climatic conditions. Customs and traditions are exclusive to each state.
- Escaramuza dress from Jalisco (wide skirt with stripes and high-collared blouse);
- Traditional dress of Chiapas (wide-necked blouses and wide black skirts with vividly embroidered flowers and stripes);
- Michoacán’s dress (patterned skirt, blouse with embroidery at neck and at bottom with belt, apron, and ribozo).
Traditional Attire for Women
Mexican clothes are known for their use of bright colors and intricate craftsmanship. Traditional women’s clothing includes the huipil, rebozo, and quechquémitl.
Huipil is the most common form of women’s traditional attire. It can be described as a sleeveless tunic, made from cotton or wool. A huipil is made in distinctive designs, which convey the wearer’s marital status, personal beliefs, or the community she belongs to. This garment has a religious significance as well.
Outfits like the huipil serape are common. Embroidery and patterns change from region to region. Wool is used for huipils in the hilly regions, whereas capes like Capisayos (made from palm leaves) or those made from organic cotton are used in the plains.
Quechquémitl is another traditional Mexican clothing item worn in Mexico by the women. It looks like a stylish poncho and is worn for parties or special occasions. It is made from handwoven cloth and is beautifully embroidered with graphic designs and floral prints.
Rebozo is a type of shawl or scarf, typically made from wool, cotton, or silk. It is a popular item of a woman’s attire used in indigenous and non-indigenous communities. It is a multi-functional garment, also used to carry market goods, fruits, and even babies. Different colors of stripes are woven into the Robozo to represent the different communities in Mexico.
Mexican skirts are identified by different names such as chincuete, enredo, posahuanco, enagua, or refajo, depending on the area of origin. Some women prefer to wear ankle-length skirts, while others favor knee-length ones. The skirts are generally made from wool and cotton. Nowadays, silk and lace are also used to make skirts for women.
Blouses are an integral part of the wardrobe of a Mexican woman. Some Mexican women prefer to wear a blouse rather than a huipil. Blouses are heavily embroidered using beautiful lace, beads, and colorful patterns. They are available in a wide variety of styles, in terms of length, width, and design. Blouse patterns differ slightly as per regions. E.g. Jalapa blouses, puebla blouses, etc.
Traditional Attire for Men
In tropical regions of Mexico, many men prefer a light, comfortable button-up shirt called the Guayabera. It is the perfect attire for casual or formal occasions. These shirts are available in a variety of colors and styles and are decorated with beautiful embroidery.
Sarape is the only native addition to a man’s wardrobe. It is a vibrantly colored garment with a fringe. It represents a combination of Mayan elements and the Mexican poncho. It is usually made in the Mexican state of Coahuila.
Charro Suit is a traditional piece of Mexican clothing for men that is generally worn on the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated to remember the death of loved ones. A Charro suit is often paired with a sombrero.
Sombrero is a wide brimmed hat that is made from straw and worn traditionally by men all over Mexico. This accessory is one of the most significant denotations of the culture and customs of Mexico.
Most Mexicans like to use elaborate accessories with garments. The choice of accessories is distinct to every region. Women like to wear ribbons as a necklace around their necks, including bracelets and beaded rings too. Other Mexicans like to use unusual material like fishbones or seashells as accessories. These kinds of ornaments are believed to act as amulets or medallions to ward off evil. They are also seen wearing tehuana headdress and tzutes (cloth).
Men in the northern states of Mexico, like Chihuahua, use cowboy hats and boots. Most Mexicans use straw and palm hats to cope with the extreme heat. Sombreros are popular Mexican round hats, made from straw, felt, or other material. Other accessories include caites (leather sandals) and morral (typical bag with shoulder strap). Pants and capixay (pullover) are held on by the characteristic faja (sash), which functions like a belt.
Mexicans consider their clothes as the mirror of their culture, social status, and ethnic group. Theirs is truly a clothing splendor to lay one’s eyes on, even if proportionately billowy.