Tips for Wearing a Guayabera

April 20, 2018 9 min read

Last updated: 1/22/2020

How to Wear a Guayabera

Commonly a garment for men, the guayabera is a great way to stay cool and comfortable during warmer seasons or in hotter climates while traveling. If a guayabera is not a part of your wardrobe, you may want to reconsider! Guayaberas are highly versatile and can be seen in attires from casual all the way to formal.

From ceremonies and dinner parties to celebrations and professional gatherings, you've surely noticed that men of all ages in San Antonio wear their favorite guayaberas, no matter the occasion.

At Penner's, the source of the best men's clothing in San Antonio, we've helped generations of gentlemen choose the perfect guayabera for any occasion. In this guide, we'll discuss what a guayabera is, how it should fit, and how you can style it to add to your own wardrobe. Whether you’re traveling or just looking to change things up, a guayabera is a great garment for any occasion.

What Is a Guayabera?

What is a Guayabera

Whether you're new to Texas or simply a local who wants to gain an in-depth understanding of San Antonio fashion, all boys and men should be familiar with one of the most popular Latin clothing items in town — the guayabera

Guayaberas are known by a variety of names including, Mexican wedding shirts, safari shirts Cuban shirts, guayabels, chacabanas, cigar shirts and bush jackets. Each name is used by a different culture or region, but generally describes the same type of garment.

A guayabera is typically characterized as a short-sleeved Cuban or Mexican shirt that has two-breast pockets and two pockets over the hips. A guayabera is often worn untucked, even in more formal settings. Guayaberas will commonly have two vertical rows of pleats or embroidery. A few hallmarks of the guayabera include:

  • Two-to-four pockets on the front of the shirt.
  • Rows of large or small vertical pleats running up and down the front of the shirt.
  • A straight hem that allows for them to be worn in a presentable fashion while untucked.
  • Side vents on either side of the shirt with buttons that can adjust the size of the slits.

However, some modern Guayaberas differ from the traditional style. For example, a Presidente guayabera, a unique style available at Penner's, features a single pocket and embroidery running vertically down the front and back of the shirt. Some guayaberas also feature mother of pearl buttons and are known as Elegante guayaberas. 

The most common guayabera is either white or has brighter pastel coloring. The fabric is usually 100 percent linen or 100 percent cotton, depending on the area and level of quality. Generally, the warmer the region is, the lighter the weave. As time goes on and as more garment makers and tailors get their hands on guayaberas, additional variations and alterations have been made to the design of the shirt.

The guayabera is a staple of men's fashion in San Antonio, as well as in other areas of Texas, Mexico and Latin America. For over a century, men of all ages have visited Penner's to shop the largest selection of authentic guayabera in the country. 

The guayaberas we carry are made in Merida Yucatan, Colombia, Panama and Mexico exclusively for our store. All styles and colors of our classic guayaberas are available in sizes Small through 8X and XLT-5XT, perfectly fitting every man for every occasion.

When to Wear a Guayabera

You can wear a guayabera to several different types of occasions. The warmer the climate is, the more likely it is that a guayabera will be considered normal or acceptable. Generally speaking, a guayabera can be worn to most occasions where the attire has not been strictly stated. A guayabera can be worn on the beach, in the office, relaxing with friends, socializing, and even at weddings.

As always, the more important the event or occasions is, the more important it becomes to verify with the event organizer about the type of attire that may be acceptable. While a guayabera may be acceptable in a similar event in one location does not mean it will be accepted for another. Each event and occasion is unique, so it's important to consider each event individually. There are many events to which you may be able to wear a guayabera, including:

When to Wear a Guayabera

Weddings

A wedding ceremony and reception are some of the best occasions when to wear a guayabera — after all, this article of clothing is commonly known as a Mexican wedding shirt. From ceremonies on the beach to receptions in a warm climate, the long-sleeved guayabera outfit is a dressy, yet comfortable choice. We suggest a white-colored guayabera for most weddings, although you can choose a brighter color. Complete your guayabera outfit with dark or light-colored pants and shoes.

Formal Events

As a highly-regarded staple of many cultures, the guayabera is a piece of clothing worn only once or twice a year. There are a number of occasions in which you'll be required to wear a guayabera outfit, specifically in formal and professional contexts. 

From Puerto Rico to Cuba to Mexico and beyond, many Latin American leaders wear guayaberas to formal gatherings such as political events. You can wear a guayabera outfit to your formal engagements, provided you add dress shoes and dark trousers to your ensemble.  

Casual Wear

Although the guayabera can be worn for notable events, its working-class origins make the short-sleeved option a perfect piece of casual clothing. A lighter-colored guayabera or one that features a subtle pattern is a good choice to wear with jeans and loafers. However, some of the vibrant colors and lively patterns available may mark you as a tourist or a visitor trying to fit in. You should also wear the shirt untucked, and only wear shorts in exceptionally casual settings.

Practical Wear

The guayabera is refined enough to satisfy the dress code for weddings and formal events, while designed with a laid-back essence that makes it perfect for casual get-togethers. With such versatility, you'll feel comfortable choosing your guayabera for any setting. A night out with friends, dinner with the family, a day lounging on the beach and an afternoon around town are all perfect contexts to wear a short or long-sleeved guayabera outfit.

Even though these beautiful shirts have roots in Latin America, guayaberas are now commonly worn throughout North America and Europe, too. Dress with style and confidence from Los Angeles to Berlin.

Styling Tips for Wearing a Guayabera

Knowing what to wear with a guayabera is essential to pulling off an authentic look. Thankfully, the guayabera is a versatile garment and is suitable for many different people and body types. It can complement many different people, styles, skin tones, and more. Below are tips you can use when styling your attire to accommodate a guayabera. You can always experiment and mix-and-match various styles to get a look you like!

Pair it with a panama hat.

If you are going for a laid back and casual look in a warm climate, you can pair your guayabera with a panama style hat. Although many other straw hats will match your outfit, we believe that a genuine Panama straw hat is the perfect complement to a guayabera.

These soft, lightweight hats are comfortable in warm weather and designed to withstand normal wear and tear. Combining these two can help you exude confidence and add to your character. Don't forget a hatband and feather.

Try out different colors for your guayabera.

If you're not a fan of white or don't have other garments that you think will fit the look you're going for, try a different color! Over time, guayaberas have been introduced with additional colors like wine, pale yellow, and light blue. The availability of colors will depend on where you get your guayabera, but it's not uncommon for many guayabera sellers to have colors that range from bright pastels to browns. There are also guayaberas available in bold patterns for a strong, pronounced look.

Choose the right style shoe.

The best way to make your guayabera look right is to pair it with attire that matches and compliments the shirt. When choosing a guayabera, you can't go wrong with getting a new pair of shoes, too. Whether you have them or not already, a pair of loafers can be a great way to compliment footwear with your guayabera. We suggest a pair of Stacy Penner's, Stacy Adams, Hush Puppies or Dockers

Undo a single top button.

When you put on your guayabera, undo the very top button of your shirt at the collar. This can help you to exude a calmer and more relaxed nature, while helping you to fit in with trends for your region, whether you’re visiting or not. Leaving a button undone can also help with ventilation and allow more air to pass through the garment to keep you cool and comfortable. It's generally acceptable to have the top button open, even in formal settings like weddings.

Choose guayaberas with the right fabric.

Choose Guayaberas with the Right Fabric

Choosing the right fabric is important for guayaberas. There are different levels of quality for guayabera production, based on location, climate and level of style you wish to achieve. There is not necessarily a wrong style, but certain guayaberas and fabrics are ideal for different scenarios.

Penner's carries guayaberas in four distinct fabric options, each possessing its own unique features that provide significant benefits in specific contexts. We suggest all our customers try on one of each of the following guayabera fabric styles before choosing one:

Irish Linen

A lightweight fabric made from flax, Irish linen is one of the most commonly used guayabera fabrics. One of the advantages Irish linen has over cotton is that its fibers are generally stronger, making the garment more durable. These fibers also won't stretch as easily as cotton fibers, so your shirt will retain a nice fit for years. Guayaberas made with Irish linen get softer over time and have natural antibacterial properties. They're also great for wicking away moisture, a necessity for any shirt worn in Texas. 

Cotton

Cotton is very breathable and offers reliable comfort. Depending on the length of the fibers used, the quality of the cotton will vary. Cotton is a comfortable option for guayabera fabrics, especially if you're wearing your shirt primarily indoors. 

Because cotton can absorb nearly a quarter of its weight in moisture, we don't recommend choosing a cotton guayabera if you plan on wearing your shirt while enjoying the outdoors.

Polyester

While cotton is a natural fiber, polyester is a synthetic material. These fibers are much stronger than cotton and can endure more wear and tear. Polyester can resist staining from chemicals and will dry quickly, preventing moisture from creating mildew. Polyester fabric will also resist shrinking and wrinkling, ensuring your polyester guayabera will look and fit like new after every laundry cycle.

Poly-Cotton Blend

There are some guayabera fabrics that are blends of two different materials, such as a polyester-cotton blend. A poly-cotton blend is a popular option for guayaberas, as well as other shirts, because it provides you with the benefits of both materials. The breathability and softness of cotton are retained, but you're also to clean and care for the shirt as effortlessly as you would polyester. With fewer cotton fibers, guayaberas made with poly-cotton blends are less likely to shrink.

Sateen

If you're not yet familiar with sateen, you'll love the benefits it lends a guayabera. Modern-day guayaberas are often made with sateen because this fabric can repel moisture without absorbing any. One of the perks of a sateen guayabera is that it's easy to care for, which means you can launder them at home and not have to worry about damaging the fabric or ironing the shirt after it's been in the dryer. Made from cotton and rayon, it's appearance, weave and texture are similar to silk. 

Try to find a guayabera that has been made with light linen or cotton, as opposed to synthetic fabric. Choosing linen or cotton will help your skin to breath more comfortably and reduce the amount of sweat you produce. The lighter the color, the cleaner and fresher you will look overall, too. When worn correctly and when following common guayabera style suggestions, you'll refine your style and develop a clean and polished look.

Authentic Guayaberas Only Available at Penner's 

Shop Guayaberas at Penner's

The guayabera is a classic shirt worn throughout Texas, Mexico and Latin America. Whether you're just visiting the area and want to immerse yourself in our culture or if you live in San Antonio and need one of these authentic shirts for your wardrobe, Penner's has you covered. 

We have an exclusive selection of short and long-sleeved guayaberas in a variety of colors, sizes and styles. Our friendly staff will help you pick out a new guayabera, and our expert in-house tailors will ensure a perfect fit.

Penner's is proud to have served the men and women of San Antonio for over 100 years. As the premier men's clothing store in the city, Penner's retail space showcases over 10,000 square-feet of suits, sport coats, shoes, dress shirts, accessories and, of course, our authentic guayaberas, made exclusively for our customers. 

Regardless if you're shopping for your first guayabera or if you're adding another of these classic shirts to your wardrobe, we invite you to browse our selection. Visit Penner's today to find your new favorite guayabera or call us at (210) 226-2487.


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