Traditions and History of Mexican Clothing

Mexican attire has always been so full of intriguing color and fascinating designs, right? Actually, after some research, I found that hundreds of years ago they were plain and boring. Here’s what I found:

Men’s Clothing:

Traditional Mexican men’s clothing were all originally made in neutral colors like greys, blacks and most commonly, brown. Shirts and pants most often were a single color and relatively plain to modern-day clothing. The hat Mexico is known for is called a ‘sombrero’. ‘Sombrero’ comes from the Spanish word sobra, which means ‘shade’, and translates literally into the word ‘hat’ in English.

Mexican Mariachi Player with Sombrero

Sombreros are broad-brimmed straw hats that more often than not had a chin strap to accommodate for riding on horses at a full gallop. Men would sometimes also wear capes that went to or below the knee. Like the sombrero, ponchos were popular in Mexico remain a symbol of that country today. The most popular material at first was cotton and then later silk.

A Mexican cowboy’s uniform always included black pants and the typical sombrero. The button-up shirts usually had silver buttons and other elaborate designs.

Traditional Mexican Women’s Clothing

The women wore long skirts that typically reached their ankles. Sometimes a shorter skirt would reach the knee, but they were normally no shorter than that.

The women’s shirts were mostly made out of wool or sometimes silk. They were always white and lightweight to help them not be too hot. Sometimes instead of the typical quarter or half-length sleeves, they wore sleeveless shirts called ‘huilips’ when it got even warmer.

Mothers would often use a shawl-like piece of fabric called a ‘rebozo’ made to carry infants easily.

Modern-day Colors Used in Mexican Clothing

So what changed this clothing into the Mexican clothing we know today?

Modern Traditional Mexican Women's Dresses and Skirts

The modern-day Mexican clothing is heavily influenced by the Hindu and Indian sari! The story begins with an Indian named Mirra (also known as Catarina de San Juan) who was a slave to a Chinese family in Kochi, India. She was captured by pirates and eventually made her way to Mexico where she was sold as a slave to a Pueblo merchant. She refused to wear anything except for her traditional Indian dress (the sari). She always stood out and was very lovely in her beautiful, draping dress. Other women were attracted to it and started putting elements of the sari into their own clothing.

Due in large part to the the influence of Mirra and her sari, Mexican clothing (especially for women) has changed dramatically from what it was hundreds of years ago. Women’s clothing is now a lot more colorful. Even though they still wear brown, they wear brighter colors like red, yellow, green, pink, blue, purple and orange. In fact, the more vibrant the colors, the better. Mexican clothing is now known to include an array of vibrant colors in the skirts as well as embroidery and patchwork on blouses made for Mexican women. Patchwork patterns used in Mexican blouses allow the use of more colors and an all-around more decorated top.

For religious services, crosses are frequently are stitched on their blouses. Symbolic, meaningful, and ornate embroidery adorns their shirts and skirts too.

Traditional Mexican Woman's Blouse with Embroidered Cross

Mexico’s traditional clothing as we know it today has been and continues to be a favorite style throughout the world, being known for their bright and energetic colors, embroidery, frills, and ornaments.