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5 Interesting Facts about Jamaican Clothing

by Tatiana Plesco
Jamaican Clothing

Wat a guh dung? That means “what’s up?” in patois, Jamaican’s very colorful and expressive dialect. Because we love this sun-bathed country so much, we have decided that it’s had time we have a little chat about one of Jamaica’s most fascinating facts – clothing. Yes, in this article, we are going to show five of the most interesting facts about the quadrille, Rastafari, and dreadlocks. So, without further ado, here are our picks in five of the most interesting facts about Jamaica’s style.

1. Quadrille is Jamaica’s, National Dress

Worn during festivities such as dances or as part of a festival, the quadrille manages to capture that modesty that so well defines Jamaicans. The quadrille is made from very light cotton, and typically worn with a short blouse with ruffled sleeves.

To complement the outfit, Jamaican women usually wear a redhead tie during the festivities. More than that, because Jamaica’s tradition promotes modesty above everything, the quadrille, blouse, and headband are made from the same material.

If you’re ever in Jamaica and happen to witness a quadrille (that’s the dance that goes along with the dress), you should feel honored. That’s because the only two countries in the world that still practice the quadrille are Jamaica and Trinidad.

Jamaica’s, National Dress

Jamaica’s, National Dress

The quadrille dates back to the 18thcentury, and, according to historians, it was Jamaica’s way of paying homage to those who inhabited the island before them.

2. Inspired by the African Culture

If you’ve been to the country, you’ve probably noticed that the popular colors in Jamaican clothing are gold, green, and red, the colors representing the spirit of the Jamaican people. And no, that’s no mere coincidence. As you know by now, they have been influenced by Western culture. However, that’s not their only heritage.

Rastafari, aka Jamaica’s home-brewed culture and religion, has been dramatically impacted by African culture. The triad of colors you see at every corner is actually Ethiopia’s flag.

Furthermore, other elements are typically seen in the Rastafari style, like the team (knitted cap in red, gold, and green), or dreadlocks are also part of the African heritage.

3. Footwear

 Jamaican footwear

Jamaican footwear in style

Because we’ve talked about clothing, we should also say a couple of words about a Jamaican’s choice of footwear. Did you know that even to this day some Jamaicans tend to wear slippers made from grass or thick leaves? As we’ve mentioned, a modesty never felt more like home than in Jamaica. So, instead of wearing fancy shoes made from high-quality leather, Jamaicans, especially Rastafarians, choose eco-friendly footwear.

Another least know fact is that Wompers, aka traditional Jamaican handmade slippers, were manufactured from wash-up materials. The Wompers can be easily recognized by their hard soles, which are usually made from plastic or rubber. Because there was no need for laces, Jamaicans would use a piece of rope to tie up their shoes.

4. Jamaicans Avoid Synthetic Materials

The best part of going to Jamaica is lying in the sun, with your favorite drink in hand. However, staying in the sun that long isn’t particularly healthy. It’s important to know exactly what to wear. To make the most out of your Jamaican holiday.

Did you know that Jamaican’s abhor synthetic materials when it comes to clothing? The reason is straightforward – synthetic materials don’t allow the skin to breathe that well compared to natural materials such as cotton. So, a typical Jamaican will wear clothes made from all-natural fabrics.

5. Fighting Back Against Western Attires

During your Jamaican holiday, you probably must have noticed that some people, especially the elderly, tend to wear a two-piece suit which looks like something out of a safari. That type of clothing is called a Kariba suit, and it was introduced in the early 70s as an alternative to Europe’s stiff, formal apparel.

There’s even a great story to go along with this suit. Michael Manley, the leader of Jamaica’s People’s National Party, was so against Western European formal outfits, that he decided to meet Queen Elizabeth II dressed in a black Kariba suit.

Apparently, Manley managed to prove that Jamaica has its own take on black-tie events. Since then, men have worn Kariba suits during formal occasions and at the office.


As you can see, Jamaican clothing has been greatly influenced by African and Western cultures. Every piece of clothing mirrors what Jamaica’s all about: modesty and a passion for living life to the fullest. One more thing before we head out – dreadlocks, one of Jamaica’s most popular hairstyles, have also been influenced by the Ethiopian culture, the hairstyle representing the mane of a lion, the national symbol of the Rastafari.

Updated on12/12/2019

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