Maya performer in traditional dress

Traditional Maya Dress

The traditional dress of the Maya can be entrancing and fascinating for its multicolored appearance and splays of gorgeous feathers. But what’s real, and what’s only a tourist fiction? Here’s what the Mayans wore when they lived here in the ancient Mayan city of Tulum:

Ceremonial Dress

When it came time for ceremonies or other large-scale events, those who could afford to didn’t shirk on appearance. The elite classes would wear elaborate outfits to reflect their class. Large feathered headresses, jade jewelry, and clothing made from dangerous animals such a jaguar skin were common. Celebratory dances and ceremonies were integral to the Mayan lifestyle. The extravagant costumes of dancers included jade, feathers, and headresses. They would also fashion large masks/costumes for their dances.

Armor for WarTraditional Maya dress - man with feather costume

The frequency of wars and conflict meant the Maya were experts at armour. They would often go into wars with padded gear covered in animal skin, and shields decorated with feathers. Often, if a warrior was captured, he would often be stripped of his most elaborate costuming as part of humiliation of defeat.


The infamous Mayan ballgame that resulted in voluntary human sacrifice was an important religious and cultural event to the Maya, which required specific attire. Players wore armour around the waist to protect from the extremely hard rubber ball. Also padding on the knees and elbows, with distinctive headresses to indicate the two teams.

The Everyday

For most citizens in the everyday however, dress of the Maya was much less elaborate. Men would wear loin-cloths or a short skirt, and women a huipil or long skirt to within four finger-widths of the ground and a mantle. Earring hoops, necklaces, anklets and bracelets however would adorn their bodies to embellish the everyday style. Both sexes would keep their hair up, sometimes decorated with colored bands or ribbons.

No matter what the occasion, the ancient Maya found a way to elaborately and beautifully express themselves through style and necessity. As the Maya culture is still very much alive today, it is even possible to find modern version of this beautiful style on the streets and in shops in the Riviera Maya. Visit BRM Rentals for a great place to stay for your Tulum adventure.

Discover more about Traditional Mayan Music or the Maya Language!