Although Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful time to wear a Mexican hand embroidered dress or blouse, they are currently very popular for everyday or lounge wear as well.
Most of these dresses and blouses are made of cotton or cotton blends and are meticulously hand embroidered with flowers, birds, flower baskets and people. Each design is unique and up to the ladies who sit in the circles in the Mexican villages of Oaxaca or Puebla and visit while they stitch.
According to Mexican legend, the embroidered dress originated in the early 17th century when a girl named Mirrha came to Mexico from an Eastern country. Mirrha brought her beautifully embroidered dresses and blouses with her and refused to wear anything else. Soon the fashion caught on and Mexican women were sewing their own embroidered clothing.
Puebla and Oaxaca are cities in Mexico that are known today as fine centers for traditional Mexican handcrafts, including embroidered cotton dresses and blouses which feature short sleeves, a loose fit and beautiful embroidery.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the embroidered Mexican dress first became worn in the United States when Latin themes because popularized by the movies and music of the era. Additionally, all things 'Latin' had been romanticized since the Jazz Age when posh U.S. nightclubs featured Latin themes, and Jazz music began to incorporate musical elements from South America and Cuba.
It was a short trip from Hollywood to Mexico and many movie stars and entertainers vacationed and brought back hand embroidered dresses and blouses which they were pictured wearing.
Influences like these became a part of the American consciousness and all things 'south of the border' were imbued with an air of sun-drenched mystery.
The embroidered Mexican dress became popular again in the late 1960s and 1970s due to the demand for comfortable and natural clothing.
Today, these dresses are back in style with vintage examples such as those shown below being highly desirable.