One of the fastest growing economies in the world, Brazil is a colossal country located in eastern South America. It is world-famous for its attractive tourist destinations and cultural diversity. The roots of the Brazilian culture are found in African and European indigenous traditions and cultures. However, it draws much influence from the Portuguese culture after its 322 years of colonization.
Influences on Brazilian Clothing
The influence of the Portuguese saw Brazilian women clad in dresses/skirts made from Bordado Richelieu, a doily-like embroidered fabric that is very much like Venetian lace. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, German, Japanese, Italian, Arab, and Spanish immigrants settled in Brazil and contributed a lot towards its multi-ethnic and multicultural society, that we see today.
Traditional Brazilian Attire
The Brazilian culture is enriched with literature, arts, music, and a flavorful cuisine. Brazil is well-known for its spectacular street parades during the Brazil Carnival. The street parades wouldn’t be half as attractive if it weren’t for the great costumes worn by the people. The attire is an integral part of the culture of any country. Each country has its own unique traditional clothing which represents its cultural and social status. The type of clothes worn by people is determined by the history of their country, its climatic conditions, traditions, and the ethnic groups that inhabited or are inhabiting it. Similarly, the traditional clothing of Brazil varies from region to region.
Brazil is known internationally for its vibrant, showy, and suggestive clothing – like the Carnival bikinis worn by women as they bust fluid dance moves with feathered and jeweled adornments. Brazilian dresses are comfortable, vividly colored, beautifully crafted, and decorated with attractive accessories (sometimes with semi-precious stones, as seen on Carnival-wear).
Traditional Brazilian clothing is influenced by a combination of different races and immigrants from all over the world. In the southern Brazil, there is a mixture of German, Russian, and Italian immigrants. Whereas in Rio de Janeiro, immigrants from England, Portugal and Africa are predominant. The Bahia region of Brazil is influenced by the African culture. They wear long, flowing skirts paired with head scarves. The fabric is light, vibrant, and is usually paired with white cotton shirts.
Gauchos of the Pampas
In Rio Grande do Sul, the southern plain region of Brazil, the cowboys (gauchos) wear a distinctive outfit: baggy trousers called bombachas, ponchos, wide straw hats, and leather boots. The cowherds (vaqueiros) in the Northeast region wear a coat, hat, and leather chaps.
Towards the south of Brazil, the attire takes on a European appeal, especially Italian and Spanish. People in this region are likely to be among the first to embrace trends that freshly debut on runways. However, true traditional Brazilian attire can be seen in the countryside, where clothing for men include – shirts and jeans, where women wear dresses made from inexpensive cotton, to suit the sweltering climate and working outdoors.
In Amazon, the native Amerindians wear traditional tunics and paint their faces, and are often spotted with a heavy assortment of beads around their necks.
Rio de Janeiro is popular for its magnificent beaches. Hence, people in this region mainly wear beach-style shirts, Bermudas, and sunglasses.
Clothing in Bahia
These days, many native Americans have adopted a contemporary way of dressing. In Bahia, many women prefer traditional African clothing that includes a bright colorful shawl, a Baiana dress or a long full skirt and a turban-like head scarf. They are fond of colorful, beaded necklaces, and bracelets too, as mentioned earlier.
The Carmen Miranda Costume
The Carmen Miranda version of the Brazilian Baiana dress is a skirt with a long slit showing off a leg, and a turban embellished with multicolored feathers, plastic fruits, and flowers.
Dressing-up in Brazilian Cities
In urban areas of Brazil, most people prefer modern clothing. Young men wear jeans and T-shirts. Short skirts and dresses are very popular among women. Jeans are the most common item in Brazilian wardrobes and have been even named after this fashionable country; Brazilian jeans worn by women, coming in a wide variety of designs, styles, and textures, are tight-fitting and loosely tapered near the feet. Beautiful beaches make beachwear (speedos for men and string bikinis for women) popular too.
During the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, all Brazilians don fancy costumes with elaborate detailing. A lot of women can be seen dressed as Samba dancers wearing a headdress bejeweled with colorful rhinestones and feathers, skimpy costumes, boas, extravagant jewelry, high heels, and garish makeup. Due to the tropical climate, Brazilians avoid clothes made of light fabrics like cotton and viscose, where others do wear cotton depending on how hot that particular region is.
The next time you visit Brazil, don’t forget to purchase some of these clothes to add a flash of color to your wardrobe.