The Cuban Guayabera Shirt – A Style That is Always in Fashion

Not many shirts have a day named after them, but the City of Miami, Fl. and Cubavera, manufacturers of Guayabera shirts, declared July 1st. 2009 as “El Dia de la Guayabera” or “Guayabera Day.” For those who are not current with men’s fashions, the Guayabera america shirts came on the scene several years ago. But this shirt is not new. The Cuban Guayabera shirt is a style that has been in fashion for over two hundred years.

Characterized by its embroidered panels and four front pockets, the Guayabera was a custom shirt made by a Spanish seamstress for a rich rancher on the island of Cuba in the early 1700’s. This rancher lived near the Yayabero River, where the Guava fruit was grown. The farmers in the area copied the stylish shirt and added large pockets to its front for carrying the Guava fruit. Hence the name Guayabera.

The shirt’s origin has always been a matter of dispute. Because of the humid conditions in the tropics, businessmen in Latin America discarded the traditional business suit and began wearing the cool but dignified Guayabera shirts. Tailors from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula copied the shirt’s design from visiting Cuban tourists. They in turn changed the shirt’s name to Camisa Yucatan and much later to the Mexican Wedding Shirt. The Guayabera’s popularity spread throughout other countries in Latin America, and when Cubans came to the United States they brought the shirts with them.

The Guayabera was considered a shirt of distinction and was worn by men of importance. If one were to have visited the “Little Havana” section of Miami years ago they would only have seen older gentlemen wearing them. Several designers took the initiative and started making variations to the shirt’s design and the Guayabera exploded onto the fashion scene. The original shirts were white and long sleeved giving the wearer a formal look. Today’s Guayaberas are more casual, and come in short sleeves and in a variety of tropical colors.

Celebrities and politicians have embraced the Guayabera’s rise to fame. Fidel Castro has worn the shirt in place of his traditional uniform. His brother Raul ordered an olive green version made for the Cuban army. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter wore them on foreign visits to the Philippines and Cuba, respectively. Mitt Romney and John McCain each wore one on their quest for the presidency.

The Cuban Guayabera shirt has had a long history and has proven to be a style that will always be in fashion. The shirt can be worn for weddings and other formal occasions as well as with jeans for a walk in the park. Either way the wearer will always feel comfortable and be in style at the same time.


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