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Jamaican Costumes, contributed by Tracie Blake

It is impossible to hide one’s true self. This is evident in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our different views on situations and the way we socialize. In addition to our colourful personalities, we show our true colours in the traditional costumes of the island.


There are carnival costumes which were derived from the creativeness of various designers and worn mainly at Carnival Parades.

These are typically made of bright, vibrant colours and depict a comfortable wear for dancing, revelry and celebration of carnival music.

So beautiful and creative are these costumes that they are given prizes at the end of the carnival parade. These costumes range from clothing to puppets and floats.

A popular costume amongst visitors and locals is the dreadlocks. It is more of an accessory but needs no addition to shine. These are wigs or hats sewn with lengthy threads of locks depicting the religious sect of a Jamaican Rastaman.

They are usually sewn onto a knitted tam bearing the colors of the Rastafarian Sect.

The traditional folk dress is another well loved costume of Jamaica. It is a beautiful outfit of red and white plaid cotton material which is worn for Independence Galas and other holidays in Jamaica by ladies.

There have been various designs of this costume worn by all Miss Jamaica World contestants but the one constant is the bandana skirt and the bandana head tie in red and white plaid.

Jamaican men also wear this costume in a shirt with white pants and a bandana head tie.

The Jamaican Colours (black, green and yellow) are also made into costumes for different occasions from tee shirts to dresses.

This is also worn at Gala Events and by Jamaicans supporting soccer players and other sports enthusiasts worldwide.

With the popularity of our local market places, a market woman is usually seen peddling her produce in the market place dressed in a skirt and blouse with a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

This evolved into a costume which is quite popular and is being used in various theatrical performances.

There is also the Jonkunno costumes which came about from an African tradition after Independence.

At Christmas-time, men would dress up in various costumes and march in a parade on the streets of our communities.

jamaican_costume_rasta_colours - zoey

They would prod at children and tease adults into a frenzy of screaming and laughter. These costumes include the pregnant woman, the horse head, horned cow head, policeman, wild Indian, devil, pitchy patchy, bride and house head.

The red, green and yellow head band accompanied by a waist band is a very popular costume which is typically worn by Rastafarians during our celebrations.   

And, various versions and styles of this are  also worn by  locals, from everyday wear to parade and plays.

And yes, how can we overlook the various other sporting costumes, including the bobsled team and the 'reggae boyz'- our local football team.

All Jamaican costumes are bright, vibrant and symbolic and are proudly worn by all of us Jamaicans!!

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