Traditional Mexican Clothing
Common Pieces of Traditional Mexican Clothing
Traditional Mexican clothing is now for its bold, vibrant colors and flattering fabrics that can either hug curves or flow freely to enhance dancing and spinning. Many of these items and styles have been adopted by other cultures and are now making an avant garde appearance in areas that fashionistas choose to call home. If you are curious about traditional Mexican clothing or want to know the names of specific pieces, read further.
One of the most easily recognized types of traditional Mexican clothing is the clothing worn by charros. Charros, or horsemen, were often known for their participation in Mexican rodeos and are still around today. The clothing they wear is generally a tight suit made from brightly dyed fabrics with heavy embellishment going down the outer sides of the pants. During processions, or when not actively participating in rodeo activities, charros can often be found wearing sombreros as well.
The sombrero is a hat with a wide, circular brim that is generally upturned at the edges. This hat has roots going back as far as the 13th century, when wide brimmed hats were worn in hot climates by horseman.
This piece of traditional Mexican clothing was not solely worn by horseman, however. Peasants and field workers would also wear them because as their name suggests, they are excellent shade-makers. Wealthier ranchers and even important members of villages and towns would wear these hats as well, but they would often be embellished with silver or gold braiding.
Today, the sombrero is a cultural icon for Mexico, and synonymous with traditional Mexican clothing.
The huipil (pronounced wee-peel and meaning blouse or dress) is a tunic-like dress with no sleeves that was often made from sewing 2 or 3 panels of cloth together. Worn only by women and girls, these tunics were often elaborately embellished and could convey different information depending on decoration and color. A huipil was often designed to convey to people the wearer’s origin, personal beliefs, and even marital status.
The rebozo is a rectangular shawl-like garment that women traditionally wore, and still do today. Aside from acting as a shawl, the rebozo was also often used by women to assist them in carrying their babies and even the occasional grocery item.
These shawls were often made in several colors and were generally comprised of wool, cotton, or silk. Rebozos with red, green, and white striping are commonly worn during festivals, and because they are such an important part of Mexican history, these shawls are often worn during folk dances.
The serape, or zarape and sarape as it is also referred to as, is a brightly colored woolen shawl that was worn over one shoulder, usually by men. This is one of the few pieces of traditional Mexican clothing worn by men to exist, because before the Spanish invaded, Mexican men were generally nude or semi-nude.
Serapes are still made to this day and are popular purchases for tourists. They are available in varying qualities, but many discerning buyers specifically seek out “vintage” serapes for their homemade quality and attention to detail.
In Guatemala the term “sarape” refers to a poncho-like variation of this item of clothing. Still wool and rectangular, the Guatemalans cut a hole in the center of the cloth and wear it as a poncho and not over the shoulder.
Most cultures like to adorn themselves, and traditional Mexicans were no exception. They used many items as jewelry and decoration, even fish bones. It was not uncommon for one to see a young woman wearing ribbons around her neck or to be wearing beaded rings. Additionally, shells were often used to construct various trinkets and would stand out well against tan skin and bright clothing.