The charro suit: Mexican tradition
During the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, the 1936 production Out on the Big Ranch set off a ranchera movie boom, with its idols Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Emilio ‘El Indio’ Fernández, Pedro Armendáriz and Luis Aguilar. One effect that craze ultimately had was a wave in the 1950s of people wanting to replicate the image of those icons.
Such individuals formed groups, and since they had no real roots in the world of ranching, haciendas, charros and well-dressed Mexican horsemen, they created a potpourri of styles, ornamentation and garments that distorted centuries of legitimacy.
In 1960, the National Charro Federation made rulings on charro attire, based on five correct ways to dress as charros: Faena (work outfit), Media Gala (Semi-Dress), Gala (Dress), Gran Gala (Full Dress), Etiqueta (Formal).
The plain, unadorned apparel worn by the overseers and their cowboys on the ranches and haciendas of the time, to carry out the rough work of the Mexican countryside. Nowadays, most competitors around the charro ring wear a long-sleeved charra shirt with a military or folded collar.
2. Media gala
It calls for a short jacket; three to six silver buttons at the level of the pockets on each side of the pants; faux ‘bullet-cover’ with flyless bib often with a pant-leg flap, a style seen in some of the paintings by charro-painter Ernesto Icaza y Sánchez. It is donned for special events such as charro association anniversaries, state, regional and national championships.
Short jacket with vest. Complete set of buttons from the pocket to the flare of each pant leg, with matching sets on the sleeves of the jacket and clasp. The number of buttons depends on the size of the piece and the height of the horseman. Ornamentation on the hat, the complement of the outfit, should be beautifully embroidered with maguey fiber and/or chiseled. The charro dress outfit is worn by overseers who supervise the charreadas held at special events, parades, standing at banquets and other occasions where luxury is required.
4. Gran gala
With minimal exceptions, these days the full dress charro outfit is seen exclusively in museums or great grandparents’ closets. Minutely worked with silver, gold and silk thread designs on the jacket and calzonera (open-sided pants), complete set of buttons, also in gold and/or silver. The hat complementing the suit is embroidered on the crown, crown ornamentation, brim and trim, with flowers and other designs by the artisan.
Black woolen cloth. Complete set of buttons. Vest. White gray, or black hat. Black leather, suede or patent leather ankle boots. Worn at formal ceremonies. According to the current charro regulations, it is worn with a hanging butterfly tie and white sash.
Pictures from the book Octavio Chávez "La Charrería Tradición Mexicana".