What Is Traditional Mexican Clothing?

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Traditional Mexican clothing is a unique combination of European and native clothing styles. The materials used for traditional Mexican clothing are a mixture of native plants found in Mexico and resources that were introduced by the Spanish and imported from Europe.

Pre-Hispanic Mexican civilizations used natural resources to make clothing, including cotton, bark and agave. Once the Spanish conquered the area and introduced their own styles, Mexicans began using wool and silk like the Europeans. In the same way, clothing was originally dyed using local plants, but when the Spanish introduced aniline dyes, those began to be used in Mexican clothing.

Traditional Mexican clothing varied based on gender, age, ethnic group and social class. The clothing worn by natives differs fairly dramatically from the clothing worn by the “mestizos,” or those with a combined native and European ancestry. For women, a typical outfit includes a skirt, a sleeveless tunic called a “huipil,” a closed shoulder cape called a “quechquémitl” and a kind of shawl called a “rebozo.”

For men, the traditional clothing style is more European-influenced. Both the trousers and shirts worn by men were in the European style, but men often wore a cape called a “sarape.”

The stereotypical “Mexican” clothing, which involves sombreros and the typical “mariachi” outfit, is the sort of clothing usually only worn for special occasions, such as holidays and festivals. Traditional Mexican clothing was, in reality, much more plain and simplistic than the kind that stereotypes have popularized.