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What are guayaberas and where did they originate? 

By  Alexis Martin

The Guayabera shirts are very unique shirts, they were created in Cuba in the mid 1800’s.

Distinctive features of a Guayabera Shirt:

– Rows of pleats in front and back
– Four Front pockets
– Decorative buttons
– Side Slit
– Untucked
– Loose Fit

Where the style comes from?

Nobody knows for sure but guayaberas probably evolved from the Spanish army uniform worn in Cuba in the 1800’s.

1800’s Spanish Army Uniform Bill Combs collection.

Another story associated to this unique Cuban garment is one of a husband asking his wife to create a shirt to carry guavas (guayabas) hence the term Guayabera.

Tony Mendoza’s artist interpretation of the Guayabera

Its is known the guayabera shirt became a symbol of Cuba since the beginning. The guayabera was also one of the favorite shirts worn by Manuel Garcia a sort of Cuban Robin Hood that roamed the Cuban country side during those years.

Traditional guayaberas

Traditional Guayabera shirts have four pockets, made of linen and in long sleeves. This was a shirt worn for special events and celebrations.

Ernest Hemingway with a retro Cuban shirt (Guayabera)
Ernest Hemingway with a Cuban Guayabera

The guayaberas were traditionally made of linen, however now days it is also manufactured on cotton blend and other fabrics. Linen is a thousand years old natural fabric.

The evolution of the guayabera.

Guayaberas had evolved throughout the years and they are now available in different styles, colors and fabrics.

Embroidered Guayabera by Mycubanstore.com

The modern version of the guayabera shirt or guayabera inspired shirts can be simply untucked with or without pockets, with the guayabera pleats or embroidery down the front.

Pronunciation and spelling for guayaberas.

The word guayabera can be difficult to pronounce in English as a result many people commonly search for guayaberra, guayabers, guayavera, guayavera shirt, guayaveras, guaybera, guyabara, guyabera, guyabera shirt, guyabera shirts, guyaberas yaverra , guabara, shirt, guabera, guallabera, guallaberas, guallavera, guallaveras or guy yaberra guyavera.

Its simply a consequence of the mispronunciation of the this Spanish word. What is the correct spelling? How to pronounce it correctly?

The right spelling is GUAYABERA , click the play button below for the right pronunciation.

Guayabera Pronunciation

The Best Guayabera shirts.

The term best guayabera is very susceptible one individual perception of beauty, fabric type, style and form.

Now days the guayabera shirts come in different fabrics each of them with its own characteristics and look.

  • Linen*
    Pros: Traditional, dry-clean only & breathable.
    Cons: High maintenance & wrinkles easy.

  • Cotton polyester blends*
    Pros: Machine washable, light weight & wrinkle resistant.
    Cons: Could be see through on light colors.

  • Cotton
    Pros: Machine washable, familiar fabric to many customers.
    Cons: Wrinkles easy, maybe hot.

  • Other Fabrics: You may find Guayaberas in polyester, and other fabrics such as silk although they are not as common.

Guayaberas as business uniforms or corporate events.

Corporate Event Guayabera
Guayabera shirts at a corporate cruise.

Guayaberas are great at corporate events as the shirts can be embroidered with the company logo and they are perfect if your group or company is thinking on an event at Miami or any other tropical destination.

Guayaberas in popular culture.

Guayaberas are different! You cant ignore them, you either like the style for what it is or you don’t. If you wear one of these shirts people will notice it, its a memorable shirt.

Erick Clapton Photo By: Ian Dickson/Redferns Source: udiscovermusic.com
Prince Harris wearing a guayabera
Our Man in Havana
Ronald Reagan Guayabera
President Ronald Reagan Wearing a Guayabera in Miami
President Jimmy Carter wearing a Guayabera
US star Vin Diesel in Havana

How do we know the Guayabera is from Cuba?

Juan Cristobal Napoles Fajardo
Juan Cristobal Napoles Fajardo (El cucalambe) 1829 – 1861

Juan Cristobal Napoles Fajardo was a Cuban poet born in 1829. This poem below is one of the oldest references to the shirt. Written by Juan Cristobal Napoles Fajardo (El cucalambe) 1829 – 1861.

Oh, Guayabera!

Shirt of happy buttons, four pockets, coolness, of brave cane and breeze.

You went warrior like mambisa with more than one bloody button during the heroic uprising, and for that the flag is something of a guayabera that dresses the gallant of the wind.

Espirituana invader,You began your invasion and between Júcaro and Morón they called you La Trochana.

It wanted you Camagüeyana the noble and brave Camagüey until the end, since the Cape  of San Antonio a Maisí,   Cuba isn’t dressed without you,  fresh wave of the Yayabo.

Learn more about “trochas” here

Here the author makes references to the Cuban uprising against Spain and the fact that was used attacking the Spanish fornications known as “trochas”.

This poem also talks about crucial battles of the war of independence and at the end mentions the Yayabo river, which the place from which is believe the shirt came from. Its believed the shirt was called “yayabera” initially.

Juan Cristobal makes clear reference to the guayabera and its unique characteristics such as the 4 pockets, its fresh style and what he call “happy buttons”.

Clerical Guayabera shirts

Clerical Guayabera Shirt
Clerical Guayabera Shirt

Guayaberas are also available as priest or clerical shirts, these shirts will include the traditional tab collar found on priest shirts and the world famous guayabera style. This includes the four front pockets, the pleated lines and all other details so unique to the guayabera. You can find these clerical guayaberas in both long and short sleeve versions.

The guayabera shirts are more popular than ever today. From beach weddings to Havana night party celebrations these shirts are here to stay.

Cuban Guayabera shirt

What is your opinion on the Guayaberas? Please comment below.

Alexis Martin


I'm a first-generation Cuban immigrant. I have a passion for everything Cuba. I love to share our culture and my expertise in the world-famous Guayabera Shirt. On December 18, 2002, I sold my first Cuban Guayabera shirt online. I fell in love with the process and the fact that this is a business, you always have to be willing to learn. Many things have changed since then, new software services, new concepts. At Mycubanstore.com, we had been able to ride different market waves. We are always humbled and grateful for this privilege of building a future in this great country.

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  1. Thank you so much for presenting the information , it was a very interesting read.

    I am a big fan of the Guayabera and have had my fare share of purchases from your company.
    I have visited Cuba only once and had always been a dream of mine to be there . I hope that some day our countries will as they were .

    Regards

    Casper

  2. I have been purchasing the Clerical Shirts for a while now from My Cuban Store.
    They are very convenient and comfortable and classy.

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