The Types of Clothing that Jamaicans Wear

The clothing in Jamaica reflects the cultural diversity among its people. This Caribbean nation’s attire fuses Western and traditional looks. The characteristics that tie the two are vibrant, striking colours and comfort. Of course, Jamaicans also dress for the tropical climate.

Traditional Dress

Jamaican people are very spirited and that attitude is reflected in their traditional dress. They wear bright, vibrant colours in lightweight fabrics to keep cool in the tropical climate. Women traditionally wear a skirt, light top and a headscarf, all made from calico—a cotton cloth that is made and marketed locally. Additionally, there's a particular way to drape the headscarf. The women fold the scarves in half, wrap and tie them around their heads, tucking the ends under, to keep the scarves from slipping off. Men often wear trousers (long or short) and shirts. Typically, there's little difference between informal and formal clothing, particularly with men's wear, because of the need to keep cool.

Rastafarian Wear

Rastafarian wear is also popular. These clothes, made only from natural fibres, typically include red, green and gold. According to Rasta Supply Guide, the red symbolises the blood of black people, the yellow the stolen gold and the green signifies the lost lands of Africa. The last item to complete the look is the tam—a hat used to cover dreadlocks. The tam can be knitted or crocheted and is believed to be fashioned after the Scottish national cap, called the tam o'shanter. The Rastafarian movement first came to Jamaica in the 1930s, following a prophecy made by Marcus Garvey, a leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, whose intention was to unify displaced blacks with Africa.The prophecy was quickly followed by the crowning of Emperor Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia, who is regarded by Rastafarians as the Black Messiah, Jah Rastafari, who will reunite them with Africa. The first Rastafari branch in Jamaica was established in 1935.

Western Wear

Western attire is also popular in Jamaica. Shops are filled with T-shirts, jeans, tank tops, sweatshirts, jerseys and golf shirts,. Clothing you would typically find in the U.S. can also be found all over Jamaica. Such is the popularity of Western attire that men wear jeans and T-shirts more than they do traditional Jamaican clothing made from calico.


Islanders and tourists alike hit the beaches in swimming costumes, lightweight shirts, shorts, cover ups, flip flops and sandals, sunglasses and hats. Keep in mind that some resorts in Jamaica don’t require clothing.

Recommended Clothing

Because Western culture is a big part of Jamaican culture, anyone from the Western world should easily blend with the locals. Visitors should keep the heat in mind when packing and should bring lightweight, breathable clothing. Cottons and linens are advisable, while synthetics should be avoided. Although mostly sunny, there are days of rain, so visitors should also bring rain jackets or umbrellas.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Jorina Fontelera has been writing about business since 2003, covering the printing and manufacturing sectors, as well as the global accounting and financial industries. She has contributed to "USA Today," "Milwaukee Business Journal" and several trade publications, also writing about parenting, animals, food and entertainment. Fontelera holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Marquette University.