Fiesta Dresses: Celebrating Mexican culture through fashion

Fiesta Dresses: Celebrating Mexican culture through fashion

Mexico has always been known for its rich culture, and of course for its food. A country in the southernmost portion of the North American continent, it has lived through many cultural changes and has witnessed some of the most famous eras, some of which are famous even today. Due to these cultural changes, this country has seen many variations in its food, clothing, and way of life in general.

Traditional Mexican clothing was one of the most renowned clothing styles back then. It included vibrant colors, wonderful skirts, and of course the hats. The clothing discussed below, was worn throughout Mexico in the past. Today, the country follows the contemporary styles that are prevalent around the world. The only traces of traditional clothing are visible in the small towns and villages.

Mexican History Through Clothing: 


According to   Traditional Mexican clothes were designed to keep people cool in the heat of the deserts in the north and the jungles in the south.


A Huipil is a traditional dress and usually had beautiful and ornate patchwork and embrodiery, where each piece of embroidery tells the story of the community and each element has a personal, family or community meaning. This tunic was not body hugging, thus allowing passage of air. 

For grand occasions, the women wore a puebla dress, which was similar to a sundress with cross stitched patterns. Even today, you might notice women attending traditional functions in these dresses, along with a quechquemitl. A quechquemitl is a small poncho.

Traditional Mexican women's clothing regularly includes lots of ornate embroidery, often including images and patterns that have symbolic meaning attached to them.

China Poblana

One of the more emblematic women's outfits is the china poblana, or Chinese Pueblan in English. This outfit is known for its white shirt, shawl and wide, colorful dress. What many people are not familiar with is its origin — it uses the word Chinese for a reason.

The history of this type of dress goes back to the 19th century and an Indian slave by the name of Mirra. Mirra was a slave to a Chinese family in present-day Kochi, India. Kidnapped by pirates, she made her way to Mexico, by now a converted and devout Catholic, where she was sold to a Pueblan merchant. Unwilling to give up her traditional clothing, she continued to wear a sari, which would later serve as the inspiration for the dress we know today. Catarina de San Juan, Mirra's adopted name, would later attain her freedom and spend the remainder of her life in a convent, passing away at the age of 82 in 1688. Today, you can visit her tomb in the Templo de la Compañía in Puebla.

The Colors

The history of Mexican clothing won’t be complete without mentioning the vivid and amazing colors they preferred. Mexicans loved bright bold colors and earthy shades as well. Shades of brown, red, orange, green and yellow, were the most common. Initially, pigments were obtained from plants grown nearby. Once the Europeans settled there, these pigments were replaced with artificial acrylic dyes.

The festive occasions demanded more color in the clothing. More vibrant the color, the better dressed you are. These colors were responsible for adding life to the clothing. These colors were observed even in the jewelry Mexican women wore back then.

 Appreciation vs Appropriation


According to the Oxford Dictionary, cultural appropriation is "a term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of non-Western or non-white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance. In short it is when a dominant group steals and exploits cultural elements from a marginalized group. 

This offers everyone a chance to honor that history to create connection between us all. To see the similarities instead of paying attention to differences. 

So, how exactly can you respectfully appreciate the culture of Mexico where talented people in humble circumstances create beauty. There is not one straight answer for this. But part of this is making sure you understand their origins, the political and social struggles of marginalized ones who these garments originated from.





Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published