Fashion Friday – The Huipil

WTF is a huipil???

Pronounced “wee-ple”. You probably don’t have one hanging in your closet, but if you lived in Guatemala, you’d be the proud owner of several. All ages of women and girls wear them. The huipil is a tunic-like garment made by stitching together anywhere from one to five pieces of cloth. The garment is common among the various Mayan groups, and the designs on the front, back and shoulders can identify which type of Maya and from what community.

Photo Apr 03, 3 23 49 PM

The most common fiber is cotton, but there are those made from wool and silk as well. Most huipils are made from two or three pieces, which are usually the same size. Most classic huipils are wider than they are long although there has been a reduction in width in recent years. Huipils can be as short as waist length or can reach to the ankles or anywhere in between, but most fall just above or just below the knee. Long or short, it is not designed to be a close-fitting garment. The neckline can be round, oval, square or a simple slit. Most are sewn on the sides, leaving an opening in the upper part for the arms to pass through. Some huipils are not sewn on the sides, especially the very short ones. While huipils today are made from commercial cloth, the most traditional are made from hand woven fabric made on a backstrap loom.

You cannot roam the streets of Antigua, Guatemala for days and days, as my daughter and I did, without becoming increasingly OBSESSED with the huipil! They are everywhere – on the women and girls- and for sale. Every other street corner and inside courtyard is a shopping opportunity! AND, every huipil is beautiful in its own way – the embroidery is all hand done, and many garments are decades old. It’s not really a flattering piece of clothing, at least not on me! The Mayan women are VERY short, so the huipils are not a great length on taller gringas, but who cares! They were too beautiful to resist!!! And, YES!!! we did come home with a few! Will I wear them here??? Will they translate?? You be the judge!

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