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Traditional Caribbean Fashion


Tradtional Caribbean Fashion

There is a surprising similarity in traditional fashion across the Caribbean

An excerpt from ‘What is Caribbean Fashion?’ by Stephanie Huber, posted August 18, 2018 on Key Caribe
Each Caribbean country had its own unique twist on traditional dress, but some elements were common to many of these nations. When the ‘Black Code’ was passed in 1685, giving slaves the right to buy fabric for clothing, many of them became seamstresses and tailors. Soon after, they invented Creole style, a mix of Caribbean and European fashion ideals. The following were some of the items historically known to be part of traditional Caribbean fashion:

Coiffes (Headdresses)
Some women used headdresses to show social status. They were often made from madras fabric, which arrived in the Caribbean from what is now present-day Chennai, India. A head tie normally consisted of bright plaid fabric wrapped around the head.

Gaule creole
The gaule creole is a white, long-sleeved cotton dress traditionally worn by many Caribbean women.

Matador skirt
This is an ample circle skirt that is taken in at the waist and was often worn with a white petticoat, a madras headdress, and bold jewellery.

Quadrille dress
This dress is a folk costume worn in countries such as Jamaica, Haiti, and Dominica. It can be called by different names in each of these countries. It typically consists of a wide cotton or madras skirt often called a bandana skirt, a white ruffled sleeve blouse, and a matching head tie. Men often wore a bush jacket, otherwise known as a guayabera. Today, quadrille dress is often worn by dancers, or as a costume during shows. Its name comes from the popular 18th and 19th century dance called the quadrille.


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May 2020