A Flamenco performer in Cuba. Traditional outfit - Image by mike_harre

A Flamenco performer in Cuba. Traditional outfit - Image by mike_harre


The diverse populous and Caribbean island country, Cuba was discovered by Columbus in 1492 and the country remained under the Spanish domination till 1898. Cuba is a multiethnic country and the population is estimated from 11.06 million to 11.17 million.

A Cuban dancer in traditional out fit - Image by calrice1
A Cuban dancer in traditional out fit – Image by calrice1

The majority of the population is classified as mulatto (mixed African and European descent), thirty-seven percent of the population claims to be exclusively white, and 11 percent is classified as “negro.” 1 percent of the population is of Chinese descent. Officially known as the Republic of Cuba, the country has the largest city, Havana which is also capital of the country.

Colourful street performers in Havana, Cuba. Image by Jungle_Boy
Colourful street performers in Havana, Cuba. Image by Jungle_Boy

The culture of Cuba is of diverse origins and having so many influences. Prior to the Spanish colonizers, the territory was inhabited by aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney tribes who were actually the major indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. The country remained under the Spanish occupation for a long time and many African slaves were imported to the region during this period.

A man with traditional straw-hat and cigar, Cuba - Image by FrankBoyd
A man with traditional straw-hat and cigar, Cuba – Image by FrankBoyd

After the Spanish–American War of 1898, the American influence was also reflected and later a strong relationship was also developed with the then Soviet Union. These all factors altogether brought the emergence of a mixed and multiethnic culture in Cuba.

The traditional cigar lady of Cuba - Image  by HarryJayphotos
The traditional cigar lady of Cuba – Image by HarryJayphotos

Traditional dress of Cuba is also a product and repercussion of all these multi-cultural effects and the Afro-Spanish significance is more reflected on it. Women of Cuba love to chose light weight fabrics for their dresses but they adorn it with wonderful designs and brilliant colors. For many decades, the trend is to wear ruffled skirts, overemphasized sleeves, bright colored blouses and embroidered shirts. The young women are normally seen in jeans and western T-shirts but in the dancing festivities and wedding ceremonies, the Cuban women still normally prefer to use the traditional outfits.

Traditional dancing in Santa Clara, Cuba - Image by trailofdead1
Traditional dancing in Santa Clara, Cuba – Image by trailofdead1

Light cotton or linen is the priority of the Cuban women to make their dresses while some also prefer satin for this purpose. It might not be wrong to mention that a lot of ruffles around the cuffs on the sleeves and down the skirt is the most common style found in the women’s dress in Cuba. Such dresses are worn by the brides and other women in the wedding occasions as well.

A Flamenco performer in Cuba. Traditional outfit - Image by mike_harre
A Flamenco performer in Cuba. Traditional outfit – Image by mike_harre

Rumba dresses and Bata Cubana are also types of the traditional clothing for women in Cuba that are worn by them in many celebrations. The colors, the ruffles and the material are a mix of African, Spanish and even French influences. In today’s Cuba, this type of dress is worn more as a costume for a performance or for salsa or rumba dancing.

Women wearing traditional African clothes, Cuba - Image by Chaymation
Women wearing traditional African clothes, Cuba – Image by Chaymation

If we don’t mention Guayabera in the traditional dress of Cuba, it will be a huge mistake. Guayabera is normally popular in all of the Latin American countries, but the Cubans claim that this wedding shirt was originally started from Cuba.

Guayabera is the traditional dress of Cuba - Image copyright huitzilli - Huitzilli Brooklyn NYC
Guayabera is the traditional dress of Cuba – Image copyright huitzilli – Huitzilli Brooklyn NYC

The guayabera shirt has two (or four) front pockets, and two groups of closely spaced pleats on the front and back. It has a dress-style collar and buttons, and is worn loose and long with slits a few inches up the sides. They’re worn on casual and even some formal and work-related occasions.

Women's Guayabera Dress
Women’s Guayabera Dress

An offshoot of the guayabera shirt is the feminine version, the guayabera dress. Long, loose, and lightweight, it can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Cuban Dancing Ladies in traditional costumes - Image by libertygrace0
Cuban Dancing Ladies in traditional costumes – Image by libertygrace0

Traditional dress of Cuba which is a product of multi-cultural effects is becoming rare as the Cubans are feeling easier in wearing the western costumes these days. But it is true that the Cubans have magnificent and fashionable lifestyle and their artistic attitude is also reflected through their creative designs in their traditional outfits.

Modern young Cuban girls in casual wear - Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D. - Global Photo Archive
Modern young Cuban girls in casual wear – Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive

For more interesting posts with the same subject on the Lovely Planet Website, please click the following links;

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2-    Traditional Dress Of Serbia
3-    Traditional Dress Of Kosovo
4-    Traditional Dress Of Libya
5-    Traditional Dress Of Morocco
6-    Traditional Dress Of Albania
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18-  Traditional Dresses Of The World – 1
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