A close look at women's traditional Mexican clothing reveals a world of vivid, intricately crafted garments. A conflux of European and native elements, the clothes are made with specifically favored materials and embrace bold colors. Find out more about the different types of women's traditional Mexican clothing and learn where you can purchase pieces of your own.
Types of Traditional Mexican Attire for Women
Mexican clothes all share an appreciation for strong color and beautiful craftsmanship. Here are a number of common traditional clothing choices for Mexican women.
The huipil (pronounced "wee-peel") is a sleeveless, tunic-like garment. As with many other cultures that use garments to identify their specific areas of origin, the distinctive design on a huipil can distinguish the community that the wearer belongs to. The designs may also convey the wearer's marital status or personal beliefs. Wives of community religious figures wear ceremonial huipil, as do statues of saints. Children, teenagers, and adults alike wear huipils.
Worn most commonly as part of a dressy ensemble for a party or other special occasion, the quechquémitl consists of two rectangular pieces of cloth woven to resemble a small poncho. They're made with everything from wool to cotton, and may be embroidered with animals, floral prints, and graphic designs. Depending on the woman's community, the quechquémitl may be made with a different technique. For example, in Veracruz the garment is constructed of gauze and is worn on the head instead of on the body.
Rebozos are multifunctional garments. Typically made of cotton, wool or silk, they are used to cover the head or body (like a shawl), and they're also used to carry everything from small children to market goods. As with many other garments, they bear distinctive designs that convey the wearer's community. Certain colors of stripes or various shades of wool, for example, are indicative of different villages in Mexico.
Women who don't wear huipils may instead wear a traditional blouse. Made with basic commercial materials, they reflect the traditional Mexican spirit and are heavily embroidered with colorful patterns, beads, and lace and may be pleated as well. Other common shirts are typically constructed of cotton and bear the same characteristics as typical Western tops. The biggest difference is in their lengths and the manner they are worn: Some are long, others short, some wide, others heavily decorated.
Another staple in the Mexican woman's wardrobe is the casual dress. Dresses are typically loose fitting and covered with intricate hand embroidery. The designs are vibrant and cheerful, often designed especially for certain celebrations. The beauty of many Mexican dresses is in their remarkably easy fit; they're so relaxed that they fit almost any body type comfortably.
Skirts are known by various names, including enredo, chincuete, enagua, posahuanco, refajo, and more. There are many different skirt styles available; this depends greatly on the wearer's area of origin. Some are worn to ankle length, while others are worn to the knees. Though cotton and wool are still used, more commercial methods of fabrication have been established over the years. Now materials like lace and silk are often added to the mix, adding a new element of design to these already lavish skirts.
Traditional women's Mexican clothing is no different from garments of other origins - they also make grand use of elaborate accessories.
Depending on what region the woman is from, she may wear ribbons around her neck in lieu of necklaces. Some wear beaded rings and bracelets, while others wear unusual natural materials, like seashells and even fish bones.
Most ornaments of this nature have some type of special meaning, and many act as amulets or medallions, either to ward off evil or to reflect religious beliefs.
Getting Your Own Traditional Clothing
If you'd like to find some authentic traditional women's clothing, there are resources available.
Purchasing Traditional Mexican Attire
If you are traveling to Mexico soon, visit MExperience.com in advance of your trip for tips on where to purchase traditional attire. If a trip to Mexico isn't on the agenda anytime soon, you can still shop around for authentic Mexican clothing. Here are a number of places where you can purchase traditional attire.
- La Mariposa Mexican Imports: This company carries a selection of traditional blouses, dresses, skirts, and accessories for women.
- Leo's Imports: You'll find a number of colorful dresses, blouses, ponchos, and more from this online retailer.
- My Mercado Mexican Imports: Here you can find a variety of new and vintage traditional pieces and outfits, as well as handbags and other accessories.
Patterns to Make Your Own
If you have sewing skills, you may want to consider making your own traditional Mexican clothing. Here are few patterns designed for just that purpose.
- Jessica-Tromp.nl: Download a variety of free do-it-yourself poncho patterns.
- TheMexicanDress.com: Download patterns and instruction books for several different styles of traditional Mexican dresses.
- ebay: You're likely to find a variety of vintage Mexican sewing patterns on ebay at any given time.
Traditional Mexican Clothing in Modern Time
Native Mexican attire may best be broken down into several categories, including everyday wear, traditional wear, and celebratory costumes. Everyday attire is functional, comfortable, and based in cultural traditions. Celebratory wear has its own unique aesthetic and is noteworthy for in terms of color, fabrics, natural fibers, and ornamentation. Whether you're looking for traditional attire to wear for a cultural celebration or if you simply want comfortable clothing reminiscent of an earlier time, it's not difficult to find something that meets your particular needs, even in modern time.