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Panamanian «Pollera de Faena», how to dress it?

If you’re looking to learn about the Panamanian Pollera de Faena and how to dress it, you’ve come to the right place.


Are you curious to know how to wear a traditional «Pollera de Faena» which is one of the Panamanian traditional dresses? In this article, I am going to show you how is the process of getting dress to be ready for the La Mejorana Festival, one of the traditional celebrations in Panama. Let’s get dressed!

Wearing a pollera is a special moment for every Panamanian woman and girl.

For those who have not seen the promotional video of Panama, here it is: (yes, it’s me)

Let’s go towards the Azuero Peninsula

We went by car, the tour was about 4 hours, in which we stopped for breakfast. I saw little of the road since I spent most of it sleeping, and it was Mily from Q-tarras tours who took me to my date with the skirt. We were heading towards the Azuero peninsula, and it was in Chitré, Herrera Province.

Breakfast and hot sauce

The outfit of transformation: the Panamanian work skirt

When we arrive at the place where they were going to transform me into a Panamanian, I quickly see my outfit, which is a work skirt. I tell you that it is the “daily” version of a suit that in its gala version is gorgeous and colorful.

The feminine vanity is not far behind in the simpler version, since I loved it, I couldn’t wait to wear those white clothes with TURQUOISE BLUE! I swear I didn’t tell them what color I preferred, it seems they simply read my mind.

My clothes 🙂 I was super happy

How to wear a pollera de faena

Garments and accessories

Like all typical costumes, the work skirt has certain elements that should not be skipped, such as:

  • Camisole
  • White inner skirt and colored outer skirt
  • Black heelless shoes
  • «Tapahueso» with black ribbon (further on I’ll show you what it is because when I read it, I didn’t know what it was until I saw it on)
  • Various jewels, combs and flowers in the hair but always keeping it simple
Jewelry and combs

What is a Tapahueso (bone cover)?

By the way, I owe you what the tapahueso (bone cover) is: well, look at the photo below, do you see that black ribbon I have around my neck? Well, the bone cover is the jewel that hangs from the ribbon which supposedly covers the little bone that can be seen in the neck. That’s where the name comes from.

See you in Guarare

Make-up

But before dressing up with everything I show you, I had to proceed with the make-up. In these typical costumes, you should emphasize the eyes and the mouth (preferably red). Felicia Picota’s FP Coordinador team were responsible for doing my make-up and doing my hair, I have to say that I loved the result.

Get your flight to Panama at the best price

Order of clothing

Once the make-up and hair were done, they put on the underskirt, then the camisole, and finally the main skirt. Then came the jewelry and combs. I couldn’t wait to see myself in the mirror, when I did it, I was thrilled.

Mistakes to avoid with the Panamanian pollera (both work and gala)

While they were preparing me, they talked to me about my suit (a little of what I tell you above) and also about the big mistakes that are made when wearing the Panamanian pollera. Like any typical costume of any country, the skirt follows some rules that should not be broken in order not to deform something that is part of the national heritage.

Here I list some:

  • Wearing a shawl tied around the waist: no, you can’t do that with the skirt
  • Wear two similar chains: in some skirts you can see many chains (especially gala ones), but you should never repeat the same chain twice
  • Use motifs that have nothing to do with those traditionally used: they showed me a photo of a skirt with peacock motifs that was totally improper
  • Wearing the work skirt (like the one I wear) but with luxury jewelry (from the gala skirt): no, the styles must not mix
One of the jewels that was hanging was a “half balboa” that is, a coin

Walk through Chitré

I was unable to walk much around this city but having to go out and buy something that I had forgotten (before they dressed me, of course) I had the opportunity to see how they love to play the lottery, which has its variants: chubby zodiac, chance, etc.

The price of the ticket will depend on the number of numbers it has, and with it the prize is more or less large. The funny thing is to see so many vendors and so many buyers.

People trying their luck

The making of the promotional video in the Chitré square

One of the reasons for being “empollerada” (which means, dressing up in the traditional skirt) was to make a promotional video with the Tourism Authority of Panama, the objective of the video was twofold: to promote Panamanian folklore and tourism and my candidacy for the BlogueroGold award.

Emotion and nerves that I had when we arrived at the Chitré square and I started walking through the kiosk then the video started. There was a part where I had to talk a bit and those who know me know that I’m I was embarrassed in front of the camera, but I did my best.

The other reason for my transformation into a Panamanian during a day was to be able to experience wearing the typical costume of the country and parade alongside the people and the carts at the Mejorana Festival in Guararé (Province of Los Santos).

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Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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