Men's Guayabera Shirts Guide
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shirts for men.
The guayabera is a men's shirt typically distinguished by
two vertical rows of closely sewn pleats that run the length of the front and back
of the shirt. The shirt is typically worn untucked. Guayaberas are popular in the
Caribbean region of Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Central America, the Caribbean,
Southeast Asia, and throughout Africa. It is also known as a "Wedding Shirt".
The design of a typical guayabera is distinguished by several
- Either two or four patch pockets and two vertical rows
of alforzas (fine, tiny pleats, usually ten, sewed closely together) run along
the front and back of the shirt. The pockets are separately detailed with identical
alforzas that are aligned with the alforzas on the body of the shirt.
- The top of each pocket is usually adorned with a matching
shirt button, as are the bottoms of the alforza pleats. Vertical rows of adjusting
buttons are often seen, one on each side, at the bottom hem. While most versions
of the design have no placket covering the buttons, a few newer designs do.
- The bottom of many shirts has slits on either side,
and these include adjusting buttons. The bottom has a straight hem, and is not
tucked into the trousers.
Though traditionally worn in white and pastels, guayaberas
are now available in many solid colors. Black guayaberas, embroidered with colorful
flowers and festooned with French cuffs, have for many decades been extremely popular
in Mexico and are considered formalwear in some situations. Mexican guayaberas
often use complicated embroidery in place of or as a supplement to the traditional
A version of the shirt's origins claims that Mexicans
originated it in either the state of Veracruz or the Yucatán Peninsula. One theory
holds that it was during the era of trade routes through the Caribbean that the
Mexican shirts got to Cuba and were taken to the Philippines by the Spaniards, where
the evolution of the intricate embroidery started. Alternatively, others speculate
that the shirt, which has documented origins in the Philippines prior to the arrival
of the Spanish, made its way to Cuba through Mexico via the Manila-Acapulco galleon
trade. The origin of the Guayabera shirt remains a mystery. Guayabera may
come from a Cuban legend that tells of a poor countryside seamstress sewing large
patch-pockets onto her husband's shirts for carrying guava (guayabas) from the field.
Guayabera may also have originated from the word yayabero, the singular nickname
for those who lived near the Yayabo River in Cuba. Others claim the origin
to be from Baní, Dominican Republic, also for the harvesting of guayaba fruit in
In the Dominican Republic it is known as "chacabana".
In the Guyana, Trinidad, and the United States a type of
guayabera, some with pleats and pockets or (plain with pockets - similar to a safari
shirt) is sometimes called a "shirt-jac".
In Jamaica it is known as a bush jacket.
In the Mexican state of Yucatán, it is also known as camisa
The Philippines' national costume for men, the Barong Tagalog
shirt, has some features which are similar to the guayabera. However, the Barong
Tagalog is a much more formal piece of clothing. It lacks pleats or pockets, and
is marked by intricate, hand-sewn embroidery in a variety of forms, including geometric
or floral patterns. It is not traditionally made of linen, but rather of hand-woven,
fine, translucent piña or jusi fiber. Less formal linen and cotton variants of the
barong are used in everyday wear, as school or office uniforms for instance. A disputed
theory is that the Barong Tagalog was either a local adaptation or a precursor to
the guayabera. According to those who claim that the barong is the precursor of
the guayabera, the guayabera shirt was originally called the "Filipina" since Manila-Acapulco
Galleons brought the shirt to Mexico from the Philippines.
In the Samoan islands the shirt style has been introduced
into the masculine formal attire known as the "safari set". American Samoa's version
of the shirt often includes tightly-sewn vertical pleats and two or four buttoned
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