What Is Typical Cuban Clothing?

Updated April 17, 2017

Typical Cuban dress was originally influenced by both the Spanish colonisers and the import of African slaves. Today it continues in its cultural diversity, heavily influenced by Latin American and U.S. styles. Fabrics are almost always lightweight cotton or linen, although jackets or sweaters may be worn on December or January evenings.

Traditional Menswear

The Guayabera shirt, also known as the Havana shirt or the cigar shirt, is the official men's garment, and has survived to the present time. It is made of lightweight cotton or linen, sometimes embroidered, with four pockets: two at the breast and two at the waist. It's meant to be left untucked, and even partially unbuttoned. Its origins are a source of debate, with theories that it came from everywhere from Mexico to Thailand.

Traditional Womenswear

The Guayabera dress was adapted from the men's shirt for women, although it didn't gain international popularity as the shirt did, possibly because its fabric proved too sheer and revealing for some cultures. The design is almost identical to the Guayabera shirt, except it comes done to the knees. The Cuban rumba dress is a festival costume that takes its inspiration from Spanish, French and African costumes. Extremely colourful, it typically has intricate beading and eyelet along with a multitude of ruffles.


Most street influences come from Latin American styles, with colourful and feminine outfits for girls. Very form-fitting or skin-baring outfits are popular, such as short skirts and tight jeans. Men typically wear cotton trousers or jeans, paired with the Guayabera shirt.


Children wear uniforms to school. Uniforms are often a Guayabera shirt paired with a skirt, shorts or trousers. At a girl's quinze fiesta, which is a 15th birthday celebration similar to Latin America's quinceanara, she wears a ruffled ball gown, while other children wear similarly formal garments.


Although street wear may seem casual or too revealing for Americans, Cuba doesn't lack in dress codes. Topless sunbathing is actually not allowed in most of Cuba, as it has been an invention of tourist areas. Shorts and beachwear are often not prohibited in restaurants, and even nightclubs may keep you from entering if you have on shorts or sandals.

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About the Author

Misty Witenberg has been a magazine and freelance writer (including "Shape," "Fit Pregnancy," "Natural Health" and "Mom & Baby") since 2004. Her experience is in fashion, beauty, travel, fitness and culture writing.