The Evolution of Hipils as Fashion in Yucatan

Hipils are culture and fashion in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico

One of the most common types of traditional women’s clothing still worn on the Yucatan Peninsula is called the hipil (also spelled huipil).  Hipils come in many shapes and sizes and are worn as dresses or as a blouse in a shorter version.

Hipils are a style of clothing that has evolved from traditional Mayan design and survived the centuries of Spanish conquest and fashion influences that have come and gone through the years since.  They are a beautiful representation of the characteristics of the peninsula and conserve the history of the region through pre-Columbian motifs.

Typical hipils are rectangular in shape and are decorated with colorful embroidery thread (“bi chuy SHOC” in Mayan if you want to impress locals with your knowledge) around the neckline and along the bottom seam of the garment.  Designs typically represent the flowers of the region in bright colors but can represent other natural and cultural aspect of everyday life here.  When a hipil is worn as a dress the design is longer and is usually worn with decorative undergarment with beautiful brocade or lace accents that extend beyond the bottom of the dress itself.

Generation after generation of Yucatecas have shared hipils with their daughters

There are many women here who wear hipils every day as they are light and allow for air circulation on hot, humid weather.  The garment is tied closely with the idea of femininity and elegance as well so the utilitarian benefits are only a bonus.

Hipils are also seen as a way to show pride in the region during festivals, holidays, and special events.  It is not unusual to see decorative hipils worn as evening gowns at “dressy” affairs or weddings in rural areas.  For a complete, authentic look, a woman might include a shall, embroidered slippers, ribbon and flowers in her hair, beautiful locally-made jewelry, and a delicate rosary.

A modern variation of the huipil is called a “minihuipil” and combines the tradition of the garment with the popularity of mini dresses among younger generations.  Blouses with authentic huipil designs are a source of pride for local residents.  They are worn by women of all generations and can be coupled with jeans for everyday use or more formal slacks or skirts for special events.

You can buy huipils just about everywhere in the area.  Prices range based on the materials used and whether the designs were hand sewn or machine created.  Many local artisans spend hours hand-making huipils in a tradition passed down from generation to generation.  If you simply want the “look” of the huipil you can buy a bargain version from many vendors in popular tourist areas.  If you are looking for authentically-made garments you should search for shops that specialize on these designs.  Ask a local friend for advice and we are sure they know “just the place” for you to find what you are looking for in the price range you desire.  No matter what type of huipil you buy you will represent a rich and proud cultural heritage every time you wear it.

Do you have a favorite hipil you love to wear?  How do you incorporate it into your overall “look?”  Maybe you have a favorite place to find hipils that you want to share with us.  Let us know about your experiences!

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