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Guayaberas - Fashion Statement for Men

A men’s shirt that has gained popularity as a formal or party dress everywhere is the guayabera. Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the whole of Latin America claim that the guayabera originated from there. Suffice to say it is available in all these countries with their own little unique variations or touches. It is said that the name and style originated from a shirt with patch pockets in the front, made by a woman for her husband in order to enable him to carry guavas.

In Puerto Rico it is the traditional dress for men, particularly for a festival or formal occasion. Yes, they do wear something besides the Puerto Rico T shirts and the omniscient Flag T-shirt! Shopping for gauyaberas can be confusing nowadays because of the variations in design that are available.

Basically it is shaped rather like a jacket or an extended shirt and has trademark large pockets in the front. It is worn as the outer garment over an undershirt or T-shirt. Since the guayabera is not usually buttoned up close to the neck, a little bit of the undershirt is visible in the V of the collar. It is not worn tucked into the trousers and often has slits at the side.

Most guayaberas in Puerto Rico are made of cotton and are worn during the day. Nowadays blends of cotton with some polyester in the fabric are used. Linen is also a popular fabric because it tends to fall away from the body and does not cling. Hence it is a natural line for a guayabera. There is however a more formal version for eveningwear that is made with pineapple fiber.

Originally the shirts were stitched with four patch pockets in the front but now quite often there are only two lower pockets. Two vertical rows of ten pleats or alforzas closely stitched together usually run down the front of the shirt over the pockets and at the back of the shirt. The top pocket is adorned with a button. The formal guayabera is usually decorated with rows of embroidery, running down the chest.

The guayabera is comfortable, eminently practical and yet considered quite appropriate in any setting, no matter how formal.


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