This female costume, the pollera, comes from a seventeenth-century Spanish dress, and has become the typical outfit for Panamanian women. It consists of two separate garments, a blouse and a long skirt, and is sewn out of fine cloth with hand-made stitching and embellished with braid-work and lace details.
We invite you to view our quick guide to the different types of polleras in Panama:
Basquiña (Household blouse)
A white blouse worn by women to do their daily housework. It is accompanied by a single necklace, the ducktail chain, and earrings.
Zurcida Calada (Openwork darning)
This pollera is hand sewn in linen cloth and then openwork is gently done by our seamstresses and artisans and in the town of San Jose. Darning is an embroidery stitch to fill in the design made on the white linen cloth.
Pollera Marcada en Cruz (Cross-stitch)
This is one of the most sought after polleras because of the delicacy of craftsmanship required to sew it. Indeed, it is the most difficult to create, since the darning and shading work are drawn on the fabric.
Pollera Sombreada (Shaded)
The Shaded Pollera, also known as Powder in Shadow, is hand-made in linen cloth, and embroidery or openwork is then done by our seamstresses in San Jose. The technique is to place two layers of fabric on top of each other, usually of a single color, and it is then darned (Pollera Sombreada Calada) or embroidered (Pollera Sombreada Bordada).
Pollera Montuna Santeña (originally from countryside in Los Santos)
The shirt may come with cross-stitching, darning or shading, in a color that matches the skirt, made out of chintz fabric.
The elaborate hair adornments come in a range of styles, colors and materials, whether colored pearls, satin fabric or fish scales. The jewelry matches the dresses, with only one pair of earrings and a necklace. No hat is worn, only small ornamental hair combs are placed on each side of the head.
Pollera Blanca de Lujo (Elegant White Dress)
This gorgeous white pollera is commonly used for traditional weddings. If you wish, they can come Shaded or Darned. They are a bit more economically priced than those that come in colors.
La Pollera de Cinta o Cañita (Ribboned Pollera)
This pollera is identified by the colorful ribbons that cross it horizontally, although it also has lace decorations, like the rest of the elegant polleras. Although one of the most economical, it does not make it any less of a beautiful pollera.
La Pollera de Coquito (Floral Dutch Coco Pollera)
This beautiful pollera is named for the type of cloth used that comes from Holland and is meant to replicate a coconut, which was used by our peasants of yesteryear to make their dresses. The technique is to stitch or embroider small flowers of one or various colors across the dress, both on the blouse and skirt.
In conclusion, our national costume is a mixture of elements of the Spanish dress from different regions of Spain, adapted to the climate and geographical position of the Panama Isthmus, which has evolved from the colonial era to today.