What Do Jamaicans Wear?

Typical Jamaican fashion tends to involve a lot of global brands and modern styles, although an emphasis on tropical comfort favors lightweight, non-synthetic fabrics such as cotton, linen and wools. Many Jamaicans enjoy flamboyant and colorful Rastafari-inspired designs in the iconic red, green, black and gold color scheme.

Often, the more Western styles of dress will be associated with a higher social class. Particularly in Kingston, where premium foreign brands are common, traditional clothing is less desirable. In particular, clothing influenced by the iconography of African culture is considered by many Jamaicans to be less refined.

Despite this general trend toward modern, global attire, the more traditional styles of dress are still widely encountered in contemporary Jamaica. These draw on 19th century British colonial influences, as well as the culture of the slave trade.

For women, they include colorful calico garments such as multi-tiered dresses and headscarves. For men, traditional dress means natural fibers with less vibrant colors. Then, as now, comfort was key.

The Quadrille is a more ceremonial form of traditional dress. For women, the costume consists of a white crinoline blouse and skirt, layered with a plaid over-skirt in the colors of the Jamaican flag. This is paired with a bandana in the same colors, while men wear a white shirt and black trousers, with a waistcoat and cravat in the colors of the Jamaican flag.