Celebrating Latin Fashion for National Hispanic Heritage Month


October 15th was the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15th. In commemoration of this celebration, we recognize the value of Latin American achievements, culture, and traditions. Hispanic Americans have contributed to our nation in terms of art, science, literature, politics and more. In honor of the month-long recognition, the Spring Creek Sun compiled a list of fashion staples from a few Hispanic countries.

Mexico’s Independence Day was on September 16th, and one of their most well-known accessories is the sombrero. In Spanish, the sombrero is called “Sombra,” which means shade. This fashionable staple of Mexican culture serves a purpose, protecting its wearers from the sun’s rays. Traditionally, cowboys wore this hat, but now it is adorned in celebrations and included in many dances.

Another facet of Mexican fashion are white shirts with two vertical design rows on either side. This is called a Guayabera. It’s a summer shirt known as a “Camisa de Yucatán.” The Guayabera has a long hem that is not meant to be tucked in and is light and airy for hot weather.

Much of Mexico’s fashion features bright colors, beautiful flowers, and intricate embroidery. The skirts are generally long, wide, and covered in ruffles, so when dancing it encircles the wearer. One form of this
style is the China Poblana, which is a three-piece dress, showcasing a shawl, blouse, and skirt.

Similar to Mexico’s dazzling dresses, Puerto Rico’s outfits have bright colors such as red and blue, topped with a white blouse. Many have found that Puerto Rican dresses are influenced by Spain because of the full skirts and low-necked blouses. These dresses also influenced by various forms of dance, consisting of twirling, and sashaying from side to side. Accessories for this attire included: headscarves, a sash, and large hooped earrings.

Photo of a Bomba skirt for sale on Etsy’s seller MinniesThingies
(photo courtesy of seller’s page)

Following some of Puerto Rico’s African roots, the Bomba style consists of mostly white dresses or an entirely white outfit that is accentuated by colorful scarves, and sometimes a straw hat. Another popular trend is the “jibaro” look, which is basically a farmer, laid back country style consisting of a cotton shirt, slacks, and a straw hat.

El Salvador’s clothing showcases its indigenous roots and are especially worn during festive occasions.

Much of their blouses are white with multi-colored embroidery, featuring triangular shapes and stripes. El Salvador’s flag is a cobalt blue with one white stripe in the middle, which is reflected in much of their clothing.

In Peru there is a type of dress called the Quechua, which is a mixture of Inca and Huari roots with a splash of Spaniard colonial style. These
dresses are extremely bright and are accessorized with vibrant hats,
shawls, or capes. The lliclla is a woven cape, that is short and pinned
together with a tupu (straight pin). The bottom half of this outfit
consists of a wide skirt, also known as the pollera, which is worn one
on top of the other. These skirts are usually trimmed with a puyto, which is a colorful band.

Bolivia’s fashion also consists of polleras, except the accessory that is
usually worn with this is a bowler hat. While this hat is usually associated with British culture, it is actually an important staple of Bolivian tradition. Historically, the wide woolen hat was affordable, and the country had a belief that women who wore bowler hats did not have fertility issues.

Photo courtesy of Prayitno via Flickr

The pollera is also a prime example of Panamanian dresses. While other Latin cultures use bright, block colors, Panama’s pollera is all white with colorful lace embroidery. Instead of layers on the bottom, this fashion statement consists of two off the shoulder layers, and with a pleated skirt and lace trim. The intricate designs are usually in the shape of flowers or vines. These dresses are matched with beaded hair decorations, peinetas (a tortoiseshell comb), and several long necklaces.

Cuba’s famous musical genre is the rumba, this dance gave way to a new style of dressing—the Rumba dress. Famously, Latin singer Celia Cruz wore a bright orange rumba dress, which was form fitting just above the knees and had a wide, ruffled layered trim, so that the wearer can dance. This famous dress also consisted of tight quarter sleeves, with matching layered ruffles. It’s considered a type of stage costume singers would wear.

Celia Cruz’s rumba dress on display at the Smithsonian Museum courtesy of the Museum’s website