A Guide to Traditional Mexican Clothing and Fashion
What’s more exciting and vibrant than Mexican culture? Between the country’s food, traditions, and holidays there’s a lot to explore! Fortunately, through Mexican fashion and clothing you can own and wear a little piece of this expressive and beautiful culture!
In this post, we’ll take a look at Mexican fashion and clothing. Learn about everything from its history, common colors, popular items, and even some jewelry emblematic of traditional Mexican silver!
Before diving into Mexican fashion, let’s take a look at how it relates to Mexican culture at large.
Mexico has a diverse and wide ranging history, leading to the vibrant culture that it has become today. Mexico evolved from two major groups of people:
- Native Mexican civilizations: Many nations existed in the area of Mexico well before the country existed. This is generally referred to a pre-Columbian time. These included the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec cultures.
- Spanish: Led by Hernán Cortés, Spain conquered and colonized Mexico starting in 1519. The deeply Catholic and European cultures had a lasting effect on the region in both a cultural and religious sense.
While both of these cultures had a profound effect on the nation, what makes Mexico so special is the merging of the two.
Mexican cultural motifs in fashion and art
Many common motifs can be found throughout Mexican art and fashion, creating through-lines across this generous and vibrant culture. The most notable motifs, some of which date back to the pre-columbian eras, include:
- Religion: Spirituality is an important part of Mexican life. Even before the arrival of the Spanish, who brought Catholicism and western spirituality, the Mesoamerican civilizations we’re deeply religious people. Due to this engrained spirituality of the culture, religion is both a functional and artistic part of Mexican fashion.
- The natural world: Mexico’s plethora of bright, colorful wildlife and flora and fauna make it a constant motif in fashion and art. Particularly vibrantly-colored plants and lush forests provide inspiration for Mexico’s fashion. Wildlife such as birds, snakes, lizards, and insects are also incredibly important.
- Artistic movements: Much like fashion and art everywhere, the artisans of Mexico often were influenced by the artistic movements of generations past, like surrealism and cubism.
As with all clothing trends, fashion and clothing in Mexico is centered around functional purposes, what materials are available, and aesthetic preferences.
Popular colors in Mexican fashion
Given the vibrancy of the culture at large, it’s no surprise that Mexico loves its share of loud and exciting colors. This is furthered along by floral and other brightly colored patterns. Earthy colors are also quite common. Religious celebrations in particular demanded the most vibrant and colorful or garbs, adding a festive element to all celebrations.
Initially, Mexican clothing was colored through pigments of local flora and fauna, giving rise to these sorts of colors and the “natural” feel of the different colors used in the fashion of Mexico.
Some natural tints were derived from….
- Coconut shell – Brown
- Carrots – Orange
- Sacatinta – Blue
- Bark of an avocado tree – Beige
- Hibiscus flower – Pink
- Guayaba – Brownish gold
Eventually, Spanish settlers brought with them artificially colored dyes. This ended the tradition of using natural dyes, but the infamous colors of Mexican fashion live on!
Materials in Mexican fashion
Materials are important in Mexico. The country has a wealth of fabrics and resources that have a cultural significance.
For clothing, the traditional form for weaving fabric was backstrap weaving, which utilized the human body and another object (often a tree) to create tension for the weave. In addition to cotton, pre-Columbian civilizations used many different unique materials for fabric, including bark and agave.
Europeans eventually brought the floor loom and modern textile manufacturing, along with the use of wool and silk as fabric.
Maybe most notably, Mexican fashion is also very centered of gemstones and silver. Both have been used by civilizations for millenia. This has only increased with modern extraction technology and the proliferation of artisans crafting beautiful Mexican jewelry.
Popular items in Mexican fashion
Traditional Mexican women’s clothing is steeped in the tradition of brightly colored festive items. Some iconic Mexican women’s clothing items include:
- Ankle-to-knee length skirts
- Huipil blouse: A sleeveless, patchwork tunic
- Rebozo: A woolen and vertical striped shawl-like garment
- Pueblo dress: Similar to a sundress with cross-stitch patterns worn for special occasions
- Quechquemitl: A small poncho
Given the heat, most of the day-to-day items are lighter weight and designed to be worn in warmer weather.
Mens clothing, while not quite as lively and vibrant, still has lots of character and Mexican flare. Most clothing, similar to women’s clothing, is designed as a functional answer to the country’s heat.
Some notable and iconic men’s clothing items include:
- Sombrero: Straw hat, which is used to shield faces from the sun
- Single color shirts: Usually less vibrant than some other Mexican colorways
- Sarape: A knee-length cape
- Charro suit: An iconic suit worn during special occasions
Mexican silver jewelry
One of Mexico’s most iconic trends in fashion is the use of silver in jewelry. From the Aztecs, to the time of Spanish colonization, to William Spratling in Taxco, silver has been a big part of Mexican culture. This is for a couple of reasons:
- Silver, while still rare, is relatively abundant in Mexico
- It was a large part of cultural traditions, which in a country with deep respect for the past is important
- The country, particularly the city of Taxco, has many influential and skilled silver artisans
Often used in conjunction with gemstones, silver jewelry often draws inspiration from pre-Columbian and Aztec sources.
See some of our favorite Mexican silver jewelry
Mexico Sterling Silver Gemstone Earring Set W / Inlay Options
Amethyst & Turquoise Original Painter Necklace W / Inlay Options
Ignacio Gomez 950 Silver Turquoise Peacock’s Poise Necklace
Exquisite Vintage Style Silver Shadow Box Floral Bracelet
Ornate Mexico Sterling Silver Floral Lovebird Hanging Earrings
Take part in Mexico’s vibrant culture with a piece of your own
Ready to explore the world of Mexican fashion? Shop our collection of Mexican silver jewelry to find the perfect piece for you. Whether you want to make Mexican fashion a key part of your wardrobe, or simply infuse some Mexican flare into your own style, we’ve got an item for you!