Peruvians are excellent craftsmen. Their clothing is still homemade in XXI century and looks pretty much like traditional garments used centuries ago. People of Peru wear ponchos, dresses, blankets, sweaters, layered skirts, tunics, sombreros, chullos and other native pieces of clothing. The national costume of Peru is very colorful and bright, it is beautiful and original although the clothes are rather thick and worm.
The history of Peru is rather long, fascinating and uneasy. This country, as you know, was conquered by the Spanish Empire in 16th century. Spanish conquistadors influenced the Peruvian culture much. But still people of Peru managed to save most traditions, customs and beliefs.
One of the main features of this nation is that Peruvians are excellent craftsmen. Their textile products are estimated in other countries. Every tourist admires the beauty of local handmade clothing and wishes to buy something at Peruvian colorful markets.
There are several features of national clothing in Peru. First of all, clothes is rather warm (because the weather in Andes is cold and changeable) and in most cases – homemade. The main material for making clothing is the wool of Alpaca. Peruvian garments have geometric patterns and vibrant colors. All of these make the traditional costume of Peru very bright and unique.
Female clothing in Peru
The main parts of women's clothing of this country are: ponchos, dresses, blankets, skirts, tunics and various hats. Every costume and even every piece of clothing differ from region to region and show the peculiarities of specific region or town/village. For example, locals can tell a lot about a woman by her hat: is she from city or from village, what region is she from or even what village is she from, is her family rich or poor etc.
Peruvian dancers at the parade. Photo from Downtheroad.org
Peruvians often use shoulder cloths, rectangular pieces of hand woven cloth. It is a part of traditional Peruvian costume. This blanket is put on shoulders and pinned at the front. People used to have beautiful handmade pins (called "tupu" or "tupo"), decorated with beads, gemstones and carving. Today they often use simple safety pins or other bought pins. Women in Peru wear several kinds of shoulder cloths: lliclla, k'eperina, awayu and unkuna. Lliclla is a very common shoulder cloth, mostly used in villages. Awayu is similar to lliclla but larger and knotted at the front, it is used to carry babies and goods. K'eperina is also a large carrying cloth, often used to carry babies or different goods. It is not pinned but tied at the front. Unkuna also is a carrying cloth but smaller one. It is used to carry food or snacks.
Women with children in Peruvian traditional costumes. Photo from Thegioidep.info
Sweaters and jackets are worn under the shoulder cloth. Sweaters are usually synthetic, tight-fitting and colorful. Jackets are made of wool cloth and called "juyuna". They are usually embellished and beautiful.
Peruvian women wear traditional skirts called "polleras" or "melkkhay". They are trimmed with a colorful band called "puyto". Peruvian skirts are hand woven and made from Bayeta or wool cloth. They are usually layered and worn several items at once (up to 15 at festivals). That's why Peruvian skirts are so puffy. Also native skirts in Peru are always colorful and bright.
Both men and women in Peru use ajotas – shoes made from recycled truck tires. They are very cheap and easy to make at home.
Male clothing in Peru
One of the main items of Peruvian male attire is poncho. It is a warm outer garment, a large piece of fabric with an opening in the center for the head. There many types of poncho according to its purpose, country where it is used (not only Peruvians wear ponchos) and so on. A lot of men wear poncho in everyday life, but most people use it basically for festivals, weddings and other events. Poncho style and color vary from region to region, just like women's hats in Peru. You can tell what village is the man from by his poncho. Usually ponchos are red, but patterns can be radically different.
Another typical part of men's attire in Peru is hats. Men often wear sombreros. Peruvians make special hat bands for sombrero called "centillo". They make sombrero look more festive and colorful. But the most popular hat is a chullo. It is a handmade item, knitted, with ear flaps and tassels. It is made from alpaca, llama, vicugna or sheep's wool. This hat is traditional for Peruvian men. Fathers often make chullos for their sons.
Also men wear simple trousers (today they often use western-style trousers which can be easily bought at the market) and sweaters made from alpaca, llama or sheep's wool. Sweaters are warm, with different geometrical and animal ornaments.