New York Apparel Peopling of New York, Spring 2015

New York Apparel


Mexican Style

By: Jamileth Ayala

The guayabera on the left is long-sleeved. The guayabera on the right is short-sleeved with some color on the front as well as an intricate design

The guayabera on the left is long-sleeved. The guayabera on the right is short-sleeved with some color on the front as well as an intricate design

As we all already know different cultures have different types of clothing that they wear whether it be for a wedding, a festival, or simple everyday wear, which is one of the purposes of this website. Mexico is no exception to that. What is unique about many of Mexico’s traditional clothing is that it is actually adapted from the indigenous people that once inhabited Mexico and mixed with other cultures. It also varies from region to region. The fashion between men and women also vary and is mostly worn by those who have an indigenous background or by those who like the style and color of the clothes.

What makes clothing from Mexico so unique is that the clothes are made by such fine cotton and linens that it can sometimes be hard to imagine that these clothes could come from Mexico. But it’s not just the type of material that is being used but also the embroidery on the clothing. The skill that one has to have to create such beautiful and intricate design is simply astonishing, which is what also gives each article of clothing its own uniqueness.


Traditional Mexican Sombrero and boots.

Traditional Mexican Sombrero and boots.

Let’s begin with the guayabera, also known as the “wedding shirt”1 because it is usually worn at weddings and traditionally, colored white but now it also comes in different colors as well and the shirt can be either long or short sleeves.Then we have mecapal and tzute2. Mecapal is a belt made wide and is hand-woven which can be one solid color or can be colorful and have a pattern or design. Tzute which is a fabric that men wear around their heads or over the shoulder. The fabric can be a solid color or can have multiple colors and most of the time it has some kind of design on it.Then of course, we have the sombrero and the pointy boots. The last two are the most common thing they wear in their everyday lives.

The sombrero is not just worn by Mexicans but by many Hispanic countries because it came from Spain, which explains why the sombrero is very common among other hispanic cultures.


The Jalsico dress on the right, the Tabasco dress in the center, and on the right the woman is wearing the huipil and the man is wearing the mecapal around the waist and the tzute on his shoulder.

The Jalsico dress on the right, the Tabasco dress in the center, and on the right the woman is wearing the huipil and the man is wearing the mecapal around the waist and the tzute on his shoulder.

There was not much to say about men’s clothing but there is a lot to say about women’s clothing. Women’s clothing is much more interesting since it has so much color and beautiful designs. To begin, I will first start with the Jalsico style dresses. These are dresses that women wore when they are doing a particular dance and mostly done at festivals and cultural events. The dress is always colorful with the hem of the skirt being wide and usually striped. The dancer holds the hem of the skirt in their hand so they can move it around to create a beautiful image while dancing. There is another dress quite similar to the Jalisco style dress but this dress has a high collar and has long sleeves, as well as more patterns and designs. This dress is known as Tabasco, and it is also used in dances as well. Another style of dress is the huipil, which is typically used as a blouse and very common in Mexico. It is rectangular shaped and usually has an intricate design around the neckline, as seen in the picture to the left. Then there is also the rebozo which is a shawl that most women wear who have connections to the indigenous people that once inhabited Mexico. The rebozo is hand-woven and each one has its own unique design on it that would help identify who made the rebozo. The rebozo is typically used to block out the sun and worn on the head but most of the time the women use it to carry their babies in or to carry other things such as groceries or other common items.


A young woman wearing a baja jacket

A young woman wearing a baja jacket

Lastly, we have the clothing that could be worn by either men or women and is also well known to us here in the US. I’m talking about the poncho and the baja jacket.

The poncho is like a blanket with a hole in the center for the head. It is meant to be worn in the rain and used to keep warm as well. The baja jacket is a type of hoodie with a pocket in the middle and is a more modern style of dress and is mostly worn by young men and youth but has also been made for women as well.


There are not many Mexican clothing stores in NYC. However, there is a small store located on 64th  St and Lexington Ave. The owner Mary J. Bartos, has taken over the store after her mother handed the business over to her. Bartos is not of Mexican descent but has a deep interest in the uniqueness of Mexican clothing and actually gets most of the clothing in her store from Mexico. Bartos also brings up an interesting point about how many popular fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren have used the style of Mexican clothing into their own designs. 



Stereotypical portrayal of Mexican men.

Stereotypical portrayal of Mexican men.

Aside from the fact that Mexico has this traditional clothing there are still some stereotypical references out there about Mexicans and Hispanics in the media. For example, all Hispanics or anyone who looks like they are of Latin descent are always assumed to be Mexican. I would always get asked where I’m from and just for fun, I would ask them to guess where I am from; most of the time, the first answer they would give is Mexican, followed by Dominican or Puerto Rican.

In today’s media and in pop culture Mexican males are portrayed as having the sombrero, poncho, and the stereotypical mustache. This to many may be just a joke but can be quite offensive and slightly racist.

The poncho is an article of clothing that is traditionally worn in the region of Puebla, and the sombrero is not  something that all Mexicans, and Hispanics, wear. They mustache is what makes it more offensive because it makes it seem that all Mexican men have this type of facial hair and that they all have this certain look. Not only do people stereotype Mexicans this way but they themselves do the same on Halloween. Most of the time if one were to go into a store for a Mexican costume that is what you would typically get: a poncho, a sombrero, and a fake mustache.

Of course we also know that many of the Mexican immigrants we have today have also assimilated into America and dress in what we perceive as “normal clothes.” They wear jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers just like everybody else. However, another stereotype that is portrayed on screen and in pop culture is the “cholo” look. Some Mexican immigrants sport what we have come to call the “cholo” look, however, this only represents a small percentage of Mexican immigrants out of the thousands of immigrants that actually live in the US . The look usually involves wearing a plaid shirt with only the top button buttoned, a white t-shirt underneath and jeans. Most men would wear a bandana, while women usually wear dark makeup  and grow out their bangs and style it. This “chola” look has been used by many artists such as Selena Gomez, who is half-Mexican, and Rihanna.

chola collage

(Left) Jonah Hill portraying a Cholo in 22 Jump Street. (Center/Right) Rihanna and Selena Gomez, sporting a more sexualized Chola look.



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