Caribbean,  Curiosities,  Dominican Republic

The guayabera, shirt of countrypeople to Hollywood actors

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You have probably seen men wearing the famous Caribbean shirt called guayabera. The guayabera is a traditional short-or long-sleeved shirt for men in white, pastel or bright colours and with four distinctive pockets. They are usually embellished with distinctive designs using traditional embroidery. This type of shirt is usually made from cotton, linen or silk. The material these shirts are made from means they are highly popular among men living in warmer climates for attending weddings, funerals or important ceremonies, regardless of whether the ceremony takes place during the day or at night. Their widespread use and distinctive design have made them perhaps the most iconic item of dress clothing associated with life in Latin
America and the Caribbean.

Do you know how many names this shirt has?

Camisa de Yucatán, chacabanas, camisa, guayabana, cubana, la camisa de boda mexicana – Mexican wedding shirt -, shirt-jac or guayabel. Depending on the country you’re in, this shirt will have a different name based on its influence and the people who brought it to the various places where it is worn.


There is no clear information on the specific origins behind the guayabera. Archives, photographs, legends and sources of information from various periods in history have been found, but nothing points to a definitive origin for this shirt.  According to the stories, guayaberas were worn to carry guayabas (guavas) in the shirt pockets.
Another legend tells that it came from Cuba, where it is said the shirt originated in Sancti-Spíritus. The inhabitants of this city used to live next to the river Yayobo and hence they were known as yayaberos and yayaberas. These words later evolved into guayaberos and guayaberas. On the other hand, another legend says that it was a farmer from this same region who asked his wife to make him a cool, comfortable shirt to wear while working in the fields. It is also said that a Spanish immigrant in the 18th Century opened a tailor’s shop in the town of Sancti Spíritus, where he used to sell long comfortable shirts with pockets for carrying tobacco; i.e., a shirt similar to the guayabera that exists today.

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Another version tells that it originated in Mexico, in the regions of Veracruz and the Yucutan Peninsula. This theory claims that the shirts came to the Caribbean islands and the Philippines from these parts of Mexico through commercial trade. Others suggest that the shirts already existed in the Philippines before the Spanish
arrived. The Dominican Republic is another of the countries that claim its origins and creation. Local folklore says that the wife of a landowner added extra pockets to her husband’s shirt so he could return with more harvested guava fruits without having to use both hands. This theory supports claims that the guayabera arrived in Cuba via the Dominican liberator Máximo Gómez.


As the years go by, its origins become more distant and hazy. In reality, it doesn’t matter whether it reached us from Cuba, Mexico or the Philippines. There is no question that the guayabera has transcended borders. There came a point when
this item of clothing needed recognition and promotion. That goal has been achieved by the traditional craftsmen who, day after day, ensure this item of clothing becomes more important in men’s wardrobes and have made it emblematic in countries throughout Latin American and the Caribbean.  This is the reason behind “Guayabera Day”, in praise of its hallmark, bringing a representation of admiration to the producers, tailors and seamstresses, and respect to the communities and workers who make these items of men’s clothing. 

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The summer shirt

The summer shirt worn by countrypeople and Hollywood stars. Throughout history, this item of clothing has been highly popular in the hottest parts of the world. That’s why the guayabera can also be found in the wardrobes of prominent figures, such as
aristocrats and royal families. It is very common to see King Felipe VI wearing a guayabera in summer to his institutional meetings, whether in Cuba, at Ibero-American summits or in Seville. Hollywood actors have followed suit. There are photographs of Orson Welles wearing this shirt in Spanish bullrings. Or Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso in Cuba with one of these shirts. However, not only men have worn this type of shirt. We have also seen Ava Gardner and Sharon Stone wearing a version adapted to the female form.

 

Now that you know about this item of clothing, what better way of wearing it for the first time than at one of our Caribbean hotels? If you are thinking about Mexico, the
Riviera Maya is a great destination surrounded by beaches and ancient culture. The
best place to stay bathed by Caribbean waters, the birthplace of civilisations where you can explore the footprints of what was one of the oldest cultures on the planet. Or even if you just want a fun holiday destination. Explore the hotels in Punta Cana, featuring a wide range of leisure and entertainment options. They are famous for their festive atmosphere and, above all, their idyllic beaches of fine sand on which to enjoy the long sunny days. On the so-called Costa del Coco, the Eden we have all dreamed about at one time or another becomes real and takes shape on its long beaches, at its beach bars, clubs, never-ending evening parties and in its tropical forests dotted along the Caribbean shore to bring a lush green beauty full of life and light.

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