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Vintage guayabera shirts

September 7, 2015

Vintage guayabera shirts, also known as Mexican Wedding shirts, have a bit of a murky history. They are a Latin American invention, first invented when a farmer’s wife sewed extra pockets to her husband’s shirt about three hundred years ago. The pockets were for him to tuck a few guavas into to eat for a snack.

Vintage guayabera shirts history

Vintage guayabera shirts-Embroidered guayabera shirt.

Embroidered guayabera shirt.

Classic vintage guayabera shirts have four pockets at the front, a straight hem which is not meant to be tucked in (cooler that way) and two vertical rows of pin tucks. The classic shirt is white or pastel but you can get them in other colours, including brights, and some have embroidery too.


They may have originated in the Philippines or Thailand, and reached Latin America through Chinese slave traders, or they may have been invented in Mexico and copied by Cubans, or they might actually have been invented in Cuba itself, but it is a very very popular shirt in Cuba and Miami, Florida, USA, where lots of Cubans and Cuban-Americans live. Many of your vintage guayabera shirts will have originally been manufactured in Miami.

Vintage Guayabera Shirts – National Dress

It is a form of National Dress in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Political leaders often wear them on formal occasions, where others might wear a full suit and tie.


The best versions are made from cotton or linen, which are much less sweaty in hot weather. Bamboo, ramie and hemp versions are also good, and bamboo especially is a natural anti bacterial, resisting mildew and bad smells from sweat.


If you’re looking for cheap vintage guayabera shirts, you can find synthetic versions too – they’re usually more colourful, but less comfortable to wear. Hundreds of variations exist on the classic shirt, so they come with two pockets, no pockets, pin tucks across the back as well as front, short or long or even no sleeves at all, and side slits. Collar styles vary too.

Different Styles

The original work shirt style is meant to be worn with cotton trousers, jeans or shorts, and is of a light, breathable material, light colour, and sometimes has little embroidered holes to let the air circulate.


Then you get the very loudly coloured, synthetic fabric vintage guayabera shirts. These were basically made for tourists. Finally the boldly embroidered vintage guayabera shirts are massively popular, and these are the ones also called Mexican Wedding Shirts.


The pattern can be in a contrasting colour, the same colour as the shirt (so white embroidery on a white background) or a slight variation on the background colour – something like beige on white. True good quality vintage guayabera shirts have twelve pleats.

How to wear vintage Guayabera shirts

The style can have quite a boxy, square fit, so choose one that is more fitted or tapered or it could make you look chunky. What to wear it with? Whatever you like, as with normal shirts there are really no rules. And by the way, you don’t have to be of Latin American descent to wear this shirt, just pick one you like and enjoy!


Guayabera shirts for a beach wedding.
President Bush and other leaders wearing Guayabera shirts.
A printed guayabera shirt
looking cool in a vintage guayabera shirt
Guayabera shirts