What is Traditional Mexican Clothing? – A Guide to the Iconic Garb

Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Oscar O. Paquin

Mexican dress has become the quintessential representation of the country’s culture and traditions. The vibrant outfits worn by Mexico’s indigenous people have evolved into many regional fashion styles. Mexican clothing is commonly known as “traditional” or “country” clothing, and it is often worn during celebrations like weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, and graduations. Traditional Mexican clothing does not refer to just one specific design or set of garments but rather to a collective term for traditional attire worn across different regions in Mexico.

What Influence the Mexican Traditional Clothing?

These regional variations are most apparent in the types of fabric used to make clothing articles, such as sombreros (hats), ponchos (coats), and huaraches (a type of sandal).

However, traditional Mexican clothing is also rooted in Spanish culture and Catholic tradition. Many of the items under this umbrella have been imported from other countries to create a distinct style. So, while the general look will be familiar to anyone who has visited Mexico or watched telenovelas (soap operas), there may still be a few surprises.

What is the History of Mexican Traditional Clothing?

Traditional Mexican clothing is a blend of Spanish influence and indigenous traditions. According to historians, indigenous Mexicans wore plant fibers, animal fibers, or wool clothes.

These early peoples also wore various types of jewelry, headdresses, and masks when performing religious ceremonies. As the Spanish Empire expanded, influences from the Catholic Church and the Spanish aristocracy were brought to the New World. Spanish colonists introduced the custom of wearing long and flowing garments, including the vestments worn in churches and the shawls worn by the nobility.

These robes were often made of expensive fabrics, including silk, velvet, and brocade, to help the Roman Catholic Church sustain itself.

Types of Traditional Mexican Clothing

The types of traditional Mexican clothing are distinguished by the items used in their construction, such as yarn, thread, or even paper. A few examples of traditional Mexican clothing include:

1. Sombreros

Sombreros are one of the most iconic pieces of traditional Mexican attire. They are typically made of straw, alpaca, or a coarse fiber called huarache. Although they are usually worn slanted, each sombrero’s size, shape, and color differ across regions.

Some men wear a sombrero indoors or when farming, while others wear a sombrero at weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations.

2. Ponchos 

Ponchos are a coat worn over a blouse, dress, or shirt to protect the wearer from the elements. The most popular poncho material is cotton. They are mostly worn during rainy seasons or when it is more relaxed. Ponchos can be made of wool or alpaca.

3. Huaraches

These are sandals made of leather, rubber, or cloth. They are similar to traditional Mexican footwear worn by many indigenous tribes across Mexico. Some huaraches are made of multiple pieces of leather and are strapped together.

During festive occasions, many people wear huaraches with skirts or dresses.

The Mexican Traditions and Customs

Various customs and traditions are associated with traditional Mexican clothing. Many outfits are worn during religious celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, quinceañeras (15th birthday parties for girls), and graduations.

During these events, clothes are often worn as symbols of love. In addition, the traditional clothing worn during these events often has a spiritual meaning. Another tradition common in many parts of Mexico is specific clothing items to celebrate local traditions or traditions related to one’s family.

For example, people living in southern Mexico often wear clothing items made of gold to celebrate the Catholic tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead. This tradition is related to the indigenous tradition of honoring ancestors.

Modern Mexican Clothing: How Does It Compare to the Traditional Clothing?

Although traditional Mexican clothing is the most commonly used term to describe the attire worn in the country, the term “Traditional” is more accurate when referring to the various regional variations.

While many garments and accessories used to make Traditional Mexican Clothing is still used, there have been many changes. Two key areas that have experienced significant shifts are the materials used in clothing and the popular designs.

Traditional Mexican clothing used to be made almost exclusively from natural materials like cotton, wool, and alpaca. Now, synthetic fabrics, including polyester and nylon, are more common.

In addition, the designs that are typically worn have also changed over time. Styles such as poncho dresses and maxi skirts started to become more popular.

The Popular Designs in Mexican Dress

Traditional Mexican clothing is often worn during festive celebrations, such as weddings and Quinceañeras. However, traditional Mexican attire can be worn at any event where it is appropriate.

Many traditional Mexican clothing items are worn during daily life. The most commonly worn traditional Mexican clothing items in Mexico include:

Blouses: Blouses are the most common item worn under traditional Mexican clothing. They are typically made of cotton, silk, or synthetic material. The color of the blouse depends on the occasion.

Skirts: Traditional skirts are worn during daily life instead of traditional Mexican clothing worn during festivities. They come in all sizes and lengths, depending on the wearer’s preference.

Shorts: Shorts are another common item worn in traditional Mexican clothing, although they are not always made of traditional Mexican dress fabric.

Which Fabrics are Traditionally Used to Make Traditional Mexican Clothing?

Traditional Mexican clothing is made from various articles, including huaraches (sandals), ponchos, sombreros, shirts, blouses, skirts, and shorts. The fabric used to make these articles varies across Mexico, as do their colors.

Certain regions of Mexico may use one type of fabric to make Traditional Mexican Clothing. For instance, the garments worn in Oaxaca may be made with a coarse cotton cloth, while the clothing worn in the state of Jalisco may be made with a piece of silk fabric.

Where to Buy Authentic Mexican Clothing and the Buying Tips

Are you enthusiastic about traditional Mexican clothes but don’t know where to buy them? Sit pretty, keep reading, and you will soon find the ideal places to buy the items.

 Many Traditional Mexican Clothing items are still handmade in Mexico, although the materials and designs used to make these items have changed over time. To purchase authentic Traditional Mexican Clothing, one must find a seller that sells genuine items.

It is best to avoid purchasing mass-produced items made from synthetic materials. Instead, look for Traditional Mexican Clothing made from natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, silk, or blends of these materials.

It is also essential to purchase Authentic Mexican Traditional Clothing items from a reputable seller. The best way to do so is by visiting a Traditional Mexican dress-making and attending a fair. These events usually occur across Mexico and feature vendors specializing in authentic Mexican Traditional attire.

What is the History of Mexican Traditional Clothing

The Evolvement of the Mexican Traditional Clothing

Traditional Mexican Clothing has evolved from a blending of Spanish influence and indigenous traditions. The most commonly worn Traditional Mexican Clothing includes blouses, skirts, shawls, ponchos, shirts, dresses, and shorts.

However,  it is not lost that some areas of Mexico may use one type of fabric to make Traditional Mexican Clothing. The designs that are typically worn have also changed over time. Popular designs in Traditional Mexican Dress include poncho dresses and maxi skirts.

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