How Peruvian Clothing Combines Ancient Culture and Today’s Fashions

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Whether you're planning a trip to Peru or just learning about the culture, Peruvian clothing is an important aspect.

What makes this region's attire so distinct? We'll bring you a lot of the fascinating details below. But the short story is that even today much of the fashion and style is deeply rooted in history. These past generations were experts in reusing materials. And they would often use whatever they had nearby to create the garments they needed. The idea of recycling is a big part of the process. Manufacturer would repurpose old goods into useful garments. Keep reading for some of the beautiful and ingenious ways Peruvian clothing continues to evolve.
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What Makes Peruvian Clothing Unique?

A mixture of creativity, necessity and tradition keeps this national attire both familiar and always changing. There are distinct trajectories between men's and women's Peruvian clothing, too. You'll also see references to different ancient tribes. To this day, you can see their influence in the different ways folks in the region dress.
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What Is Peruvian Clothing?

Like all fashion styles, this one is in a constant state of flux. But the traditional basics remain deep rooted. And even as modern trends continue to creep in, you'll find these functional elements on full display. Some of the pieces can distinguish members of different regions. But at this point, they all fall under the umbrella of Peruvian clothing. From the Inca to Huari people to Spanish influences from the colonial days, there is lots of variety. Then the mountain regions have their own unique influences in the culture.

The History of Peruvian Clothing

Since Peru is a mixture of cultures and traditions, the history of its fashion is as colorful as the garments. You'll find many influences from the Andes, where historical groups created clothing to meet their needs. And when special occasions come along, you'll find many across Peru bring out their traditional garb. But you'll be just as likely to find fashion inspired by the latest international trends. The closer you get to the smaller indigenous villages, the more likely you are to find traditional Peruvian clothing.

How Has Peruvian Clothing Evolved Over Time?

There are ever growing influences within the region that have impacted its style. Most notably are the various cultures with distinct materials and design techniques. There exists today a dichotomy between tradition and modernity. And it plays out every day as you see men, women and children in a wide range of styles. You might find brightly colored shawls, hats and other accessories. Then travel a few miles to find completely different attitudes toward Peruvian clothing.


Types of Peruvian Clothing

Let's take a look at some of the terms and fashions you're likely to encounter during a trip to Peru. You can see the history and tradition of the people wearing them reflected in the garments themselves. And we'll describe some of the most interesting and intriguing types of Peruvian clothing. Maybe it will inspire your own wardrobe. Or perhaps it will command a new respect for the unique cultures contributing to these styles. Either way, we hope you enjoy this guide through an incredible type of clothing.

1. Traditional Women's Peruvian Clothing

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There are a few primary types of clothing you are likely to find men in Peru wearing. For starters, much of it might remind you of the look of any typical Western nation. Find plenty of sweatpants or shirts with a recognizable logo printed on it. But look a bit further and find items like the chumpi. This is a type of protective belt woven in a way to help guys working hard outside. 

Men from earlier generations still wear even more traditional Peruvian clothing. This can include garments like bayeta, which are short pants made of wool. For more formal occasions, men might wear a chaleco. These are coats that can be embellished with a range of decorative materials to achieve an opulent appearance. Ordinary coverings might include a poncho, which is common in Peruvian culture. While they used to be worn regularly, these days they are usually reserved for appropriate opportunities. Guys have traditionally worn small pouches called chuspas, too. These allow them to carry necessities and other items with them while on the move.

2. Traditional Men's Peruvian Clothing

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Women have a range of traditional garments from which to choose. And these styles date back to the days before Spain's influence. Some of these traditions date back to the time of tribes including Ollantaytambo and Huiloc. A few of the specific garments include the lliclla. This cloth uses a safety pin to cinch it closed. The wearer then puts it over her shoulder. A larger version is called the k'eperina. Women typically wear this item over their backs to carry loads -- sometimes even including young children. 

You can find other cloth accessories like the unku, which are used to carry a variety of other small items. Then there are the skirts. These are traditionally made from bayeta, which is a material made from wool. And a typical version is called the pollera. Some women prefer to wear several skirts at the same time to mix up styles and colors. Wool jackets are also popular, particularly in the style known as juyuna. Women may prefer to decorate their coats with a host of shiny or attractive designs. And underneath, you'll often find locals wearing a brightly colored sweater.

3. Shoes & Accessories

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We'll end with a description of some of the accessories popular among Peruvian clothing styles. First of all, there is a type of shoe that has become popular among both men and women. Ajotas, as they are called, are the epitome of recycling. Typically, those who produce them get rubber from the tires of old cars. Then they put these sandals together and have easy access to reliable footwear. This is an economical solution to a real need for shoes. And these sandals provide adequate relief from the ground while being cheap and accessible. 

Hats are also very popular in the culture. In part for protection from the sun an elements along with a bit of style, they are a subsection of their own. And women often wear monteras. These hats can be woven from a variety of materials and decorated with beads. The number and elegance of these beads can reveal the owner's wealth or status. Their looks can vary widely between regions and even be used to determine where a woman is from. Monteras are usually worn with a strap fastened underneath the wearer's chin. 

Men often wear hats, too. They are frequently useful during work outdoors. And fathers are many times responsible for sewing together the first chullo his son will wear. These are knit caps that come down to protect the wearer's ears. They can often be decorated for style and to distinguish hats from one another. Tassels might be affixed, which in this case are called t'ikas. And then thare are centillo, whcih are hat bands used to adorn chullos. Beads are also popular decoration for the hats. And a lot of guys like to wear a second hat -- often a sombrero -- over top of their chullo.


The variations in Peruvian clothing can lead you on a path of interesting discoveries.

But at the same time, there are some strong cultural ties that bring it all together. And we think it is a fascinating nation to explore from a fashion perspective. Many of the styles originated out of necessity. Those styles became more ornate and decorative. Then Western styles crept in and had a recognizable influence that remains today. 


We hope our guide has helped introduce or re-introduce you to some great Peruvian clothing. When you have an opportunity to visit, we're sure you'll encounter some of these garments and styles. If you found our review informative, share this article with the world travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions. 

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