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What Is Traditional Mexican Dress?

Traditional Mexican clothing combines native and European influences, with a particular focus on the use of textiles made locally. Particularly for the women, embroidery and woven designs were popular, and outfits were colourful and patterned.

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Traditional dressmaking in pre-Hispanic Mexico began with locally-made fabrics made from materials grown in the region, such as cotton, bark and agave, according to the website FactsAboutMexico.com. The Spanish influence brought with it fabrics that were popular among Europeans, including wool and silk.

Colours and Dyes

Until the European influences began to change traditional dress, people dyed their rough textiles with natural plant essences, notes Kwintessential. The Europeans brought their synthetic dye methods which were quickly taken up by local dress makers.


Traditionally, the woman's outfit was a skirt, a "huipil" (a sleeveless tunic), a "quechquémitl" (a cape) and a "rebozo" (a shawl), notes FactsAboutMexico.com. These garments were richly dyed or patterned, often with embroidered details. As noted by the Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project, "embroidery and weaving has a very long tradition in Mexico and in many cases where traditional costume has disappeared, the women continue to embroider and sell traditional-looking blouses and skirts."


Men's clothing started with the basic combination of trousers and shirt, and they added a cape called a "serape." The style was largely European and the cape, and often a particularly Mexican style of boots, were the only native elements, notes FactsAboutMexico.com.

Special Occasions

Mexicans had particular outifts and styles for certain holidays and celebrations, including the "charro" suit worn for Carnival, according to FactsAboutMexico.com. The "charro" is a decorative, highly embroidered suit teamed with the most famous Mexican accessory of all: the sombrero hat.

The Sombrero

For many people the sombrero is a symbol of Hispanic Mexico. The wide-rimmed hat was designed to create a shadow over the face, protecting the wearer from the hot sun, and it was usually made of inexpensive straw.

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About the Author

Maddie York

Maddie York has been a professional writer since 2007, with an interest in linguistics, society, politics, behavior and lifestyle topics. She is the features writer for "The Arbuturian" magazine. York holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Bristol and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the London School of Journalism.

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