A quick fashion lesson from the Mesoamerican huipil

Two Red Dots
Two Red Dots /

The huipil is a popular item of clothing that is deeply embedded in the South American culture. While they’re extremely popular items of clothing, the subtle variations of their decorations say a lot about the places they came from and the people that made them. This makes it such an important souvenir item that you can pick up for yourself when you visit.

They’re commonly made in October and Oaxaca and are usually worn by Mesoamerican women. These ornate clothes make it difficult to frown as the colorful patterns are delightfully overwhelming. When combined with the charming and smiling faces of South American women who wear them proudly and frequently, it’s not to be drawn to these clothes when they’re displayed out in the handicraft markets.

It’s a bit like a tunic with three similar pieces of cloth stitched together in the most ornate ways. Some regions even stitch using ribbons to make the decorations even grander.

Their ubiquity in the markets is partly because of its versatility. Depending on the level of detail, they can be worn on different occasions. The plainer looking ones that aren’t very ornate are acceptable everyday clothing. However, for more formal occasions, there are also more elaborate designs that would surely get you noticed at even the liveliest party.

While their functionality is truly amazing, the best feature of the huipil is its representation of culture. It represents the personalities of the region where they come from. In Chiapas, for example, these clothes are heavily decorated with religious decorations such as saints and deities while Tehuantepec-sourced huipils feature more a more floral design. At the end of the day, isn’t that what fashion is?