December 8, 2014
The Guayabera is a traditional summer shirt that came from the Caribbean. It has been popular there and in countries like Cuba for generations, but only recently became a popular item in the United States. It is called by a variety of names, including the “safari shirt” by the British, and the “camp” or “jac” shirt by the yanks.
The Guayabera is an excellent addition to a man’s summer wardrobe. You should have at least one of them. I include it in my collection because men of leisure wear them when vacationing in warmer climes. Ernest Hemingway, a long fan and one-time resident of Cuba, is famed for wearing a square Guayabera in many photos.
Guayaberas are distinct in a number of ways. They always have a straight hem. This means they are made to wear un-tucked. You should never tuck in a Guayabera. They are to be worn with shorts or breathable linen pants. While I normally urge men to purchase only long-sleeve shirts (as you can always roll sleeves up), in this case, the Guayabera is acceptable in both long and short-sleeve versions. Since they are casual, they are not to be worn with ties. They come with pleats on the front of the shirt. Many extravagant Guayaberas have numerous pleats. I suggest purchasing one with only two rows of pleats down both sides of your chest. Anything more is too noisy.
Today, Guayaberas come in a variety of colors. The traditional shirt is an ivory, off-white color, or a bleached white color. Get the shirt you like best, but in my opinion, men look best in the traditional white or ivory varieties.
A quality Guayabera shirt is made from linen (which is more traditional), or cotton. The problem with the Guayabera today is that most manufacturers use man-made materials for their shirts, including rayon, to cut costs. This produces an inferior shirt that feels stiff, rough, and heavy. It also doesn’t breathe very well, making men miserable when wearing them in warm climates–which is the entire point of the shirt.
For this reason, I have included only linen Guayabera shirts in my selection below. They will be more expensive than those made from rayon, but they will last longer (if taken care of) and they will feel much better when worn. Note that a pure linen Guayabera will be nearly transparent, so you may want to wear a thin cotton undershirt.
I have included selections in a range of sizes, including Big & Tall.
Big & Tall Guayaberas
Big & Tall
55% Ramie / 45% Rayon
Ivory (Natural Linen)
Tragically, I couldn’t find anything larger than 3XL in 100% linen. This version is all man-made fibers. Notice, however, that it is exactly the same price as the 100% linen version. See how they make you pay for inferior fabrics?