Polleras – Folkloric Dresses of Panama
Eeek! I can’t wait to share these polleras dresses my mom made for us several weeks ago.
Perhaps, you have never heard of polleras. Polleras actually go back to the the colonial Panamanian days when Panama was heavily influenced by the fashions and, well, everything of Spain. Considered the national dress of Panama, these handmade dresses are often seen during holiday processions, weddings, and folkloric events. There are many different versions which are often worn for different purposes or occasions. Some styles are more popular in certain regions of Panama. You can read more about the history of polleras here.
My mom, as I’ve mentioned many times, was born and raised in Panama. Although I was born and raised in Arkansas, our home life was flooded with Panamanian culture. Let’s just say my home was an interesting blend of cultures…ha!
I have a pretty strong interest in learning as much as possible about Panamanian culture – not only because of my heritage but also because I am a Spanish teacher. Mom, a retired high school Spanish teacher, loves to share as much of her culture as possible – through food and traditions.
Each year, our school district hosts a culture night for the entire community and district. Since I help with this each year, I decided to go a little more over-the-top this year and dress the girls up in traditional polleras which my mom had offered to make. (By now, you’ve probably seen many of the other adorable outfits she makes for the girls.) When Mom and Dad arrived into town on the day of the culture event, Mom surprised me with a matching pollera dress, too! As first, I felt a little bashful to wear it to the event. But then, I decided if there was ever a time to boldly highlight the historical fashion of Panama, this was the night.
We really should have taken pictures earlier in the evening. Little One was exhausted as it was right around the time of her normal bedtime, but earlier in the evening the sun had been too high and bright and all that jazz. So when the lighting was finally nice, the kids were crankpots. Story. Of. My. Life.
Oh, and the face paint. We should have taken pictures before allowing Scooter Britches to have a purple crown painted onto her forehead.
The dresses were such a hit, and so many people were in awe that Mom had made all three dresses in less than a week! Mom is awesome sauce like that. These dresses are more on the simple side – given that she wasn’t given much time since her daughter…ahem…sprung the need for the dresses on her at the last minute. She had bought the special fabric – yes, you don’t just use any old fabric for a pollera – last time we were in Panama, but had set it aside and hadn’t done anything with it.
The polleras are often adorned with elaborate headpieces (called tembleques) and gold jewelry. Since I didn’t know I was getting a dress and I only had about ten minutes to get ready before we left, I grabbed some jewelry on the fly but forgot about going for gold. I did find a few feathery headpieces in Scooter Britches’ room – not as elaborate as what is normally worn, but they worked.
All in all, it was quite fun to dress up with these polleras!
Join us each week for What We Wore as I share our mommy-and-me style. I love creating and sharing everyday looks – pieced together from my mama’s sewing table, upscale boutiques, big box department stores, and discount stores.
Sharing our polleras at the following link ups:
Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me (Tuesdays)
Color and Grace Fashion Link Up (Wednesdays)
On Top of the World Fashion Link Up (Thursdays)
What I Wore to Work (Thursdays)