Costa Rican Costumes: Colorful and Majestic

September 10, 2019

The clothing of a town summarizes the cultural values. Among them, the typical Costa Rican costume stands out, whose clothing is an expression of the Costa Rican way of life and is, of course, a symbol of national identity.

Each region and province of the country has its own dress involving folklore and history behind it. Although there’s a traditional one, there are also several factors that influence the way of dressing: geography, climate, economic and social conditions. At present, the typical costumes are a fundamental part of the civic and folkloric activities of each town in the country. They are used in commemorative events, national holidays and cultural events.

The best known traditional clothing is the typical costume of villager and peasant origin, which is based on functionality and comfort to perform agricultural tasks, or to protect from the weather or natural inclemencies. 

This suit has several variants according to the province, but it has several basic elements. For woman: a white blouse with flights, on white color, with trims of different combinations of colors, and a skirt of wide flights all way long to the ankle; it has an elastic in the waist and bright colors, whose design resembles the typical painted cart wheel. During the folk dances, the women shake this skirt giving a lot of color to the interpretation of the piece. Leather sandals are used on the feet as well as earrings. The head is adorned with braids, bows and flowers, preferably the purple guaria which is the national flower. Some people carry baskets full of flowers or wear an apron that matches the blouse. 

For: man wears a small-brimmed hat, which can be made of white cloth (commonly known as “chonete”) representing the day laborer. The indispensable element of man is the handkerchief, which can be red or blue, with decorations of figures similar to those seen in typical painted carts. The handkerchief can be tied to the neck or hands, or tied at the waist. The shirt is white or light colored, with long pants. A fabric sash acts as a belt. They can carry saddlebags or machete. Both genders can wear caites or go barefoot.