Dress and Clothing in Ecuador, Culture, Tradition

The Ecuadorian people have a rather distinctive dress code. It is influenced by the cultural diversity that can be found in the various regions of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. People who are familiar with the native dress can often tell what region a local is from based on what they wear.

You can expect to see many distinctively dressed Otavalenos in Ecuador, especially in the Quito area. The men’s dress usually consists of a blue poncho, a fedora, or a felt hat and white, calf-length knickers. The Shimba (a long braid that hangs down nearly to the man’s waist) that dates back to pre-Inca times is a very traditional piece of clothing. In fact the Shimba is so important to the natives that they see it as a symbol of indigenous ethnic identity. When the indigenous men serve in the Ecuadorian army, they are not required to cut the Shimba off.

The Ecuadorian woman’s dress is the closest to the Incan costumes worn in the Andes. A white blouse, a blue skirt and a shawl is usually worn. Jewelry is very important, layers of necklaces of predominantly gold beads and red coral bracelets are the most common form of jewelry worn by the Otavalo women.

In coastal regions men usually wear ‘Guayaberas’ (loose-fitting men’s shirt often worn in lieu of a jacket) and women wear light dresses. Foreigners however are expected to dress more formally for business appointments. In the uplands it is best to wear a coat and tie for business meetings. Men should wear a coat and tie even in hot weather, preferably in dark or passive colors. For social gatherings a coat and tie are also in order. Women dress more conventionally. A tailored-made suit or dress are the most suitable for business meetings. Also, a cocktail dress is very sensible for social gatherings.

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