Know Your Terms: Guayabera

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.
Photo: Getty Images

Papa Wore it Best: Hemingway at Home in Havana Wearing a Guayabera (Hearing He Has Just Won the Nobel Prize for Literature)

Legend has it that a seamstress living in the Cuban countryside during the 18th century sewed front pockets on to her farmer husband’s cotton shirt to make it easier for him to bring home guavas (guayaberas in Spanish). Whatever its provenance, this safari style shirt caught on throughout the Caribbean and even hitched a ride with Spanish trading ships to the Philippines where it took on its ornate detailing, from extensive placketing to patterned lace panels and side vents. Now acknowledged as the official garment of Cuba, the “Mexican wedding shirt,” and Ernest Hemingway’s daily uniform, the guayabera—in linen and cotton—is creeping it way back into favor among the style cognoscenti (and guava lovers) everywhere.

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  1. Christopher says:

    Every country pretty much calls it by a different name. In Dominican Republic we call them Chacabana.

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