M.E. on Jamaica: Male Fashion Cliches (the old school)
Growing up on ‘the rock’ there are many things you take for granted, until you leave the rock and realize that many other people don’t do things the same way. Today I bring to you ‘old school Jamaican male fashion cliches’.
I am gathering they are influenced by our British colonization, predominantly African ancestry and all the other people and cultures that passed through JA, like the Spanish etc. Welcome to JA in di ole school (and the new school too because many of these traditions will never die).
1. Corduroy Pants
Not that dainty thin GAP corduroy. I’m talking about the thick heavy corduroy, dat look like if it get wet in river it probably woulda drown yu. Often the standard uniform of many a taxi man in JA.
So when I Googled this word I saw nothing resembling an undershirt, but instead the baseball team, and the person who helps navigate a ship. Growing up all my life a mariner (ma-ree-nah) was that ‘holey holey’ undershirt, usually just worn as a shirt, or with a open button-up shirt over it. Probably this word was derived from merino. In Jamaica you just never know. All standard colours exist, but if you don’t have a red, yellow or green one, yu nah say nuttn.
3. Rayon Shirts
This was also a phenomenon of the early 90s, but existed long before, and still do for some Jamaican men, many of whom wear them over their mariners/merinos. They have to be long-sleeved and I’m thinking that Versace print or an interesting paisley always works…ha.
4. Kangol Hats
Kangols definitely were a Jamaican staple, especially those furry ones, lol. Yu know yu have a Jamaican Uncle in England who wear these all di time.
These would be your dress shoes. Some Jamaicans have a way of wearing ‘gentlemans’ with the most uncharacteristic of outfits, like jeans, corduroy pants, or even linen pants. This is definitely a case for the fashion police. These fancy ones seen below are perfect because dem have di pointy toe, and the snake skin pattern. I mean your ‘gentlemans’ have to stand out, whether they are Gucci or that other brand.
This word means ‘bracelet’ in Jamaican culture, but in Spanish culture means ‘small woman’. This is definitely one of those words you learn no one else says in many other countries, until you say it and people are like “What??”.
7. Gold Jewelry (Fake or Real)
Some Jamaican men must wear a plethora of Gold or faux gold. Multiple chains of various sizes (a Lion pendant sometimes standard), a gold cap and filling, a chaparrita or two, and many rings. Real bad man gangsta ting we a talk bout.
"Everybady haffi ask weh mi get mi Clarks". Kartel was sure right, because people been wearing and swearing by the strength and comfort of Clarks from before I knew myself. That’s a strong brand image there, which is why the Kartel song made so much sense to us Jamaicans, as well as many others around the world.
9. Gabardine pants
Gabardine definitely was another fabric I commonly encountered in JA. Grew up all my life thinking it was ‘GAR-BA-DINE’, but you live and you learn. Thankfully I can’t say I had any gabardine anything, but many a Jamaican man insisted and still insist on wearing some good ole gabardine pants.
10. The Rag/Face Towel
There was a heavy rag fad once, but rags are never ever really not fashionable in Jamaica. Basically it is hot all year, and people need to wipe their sweat. What better way than with a rag. Front pocket, back pocket, in your bag, in your bust. The rag is alive and well.
Share with M.E. some of the ole male Jamaican fashion cliches you remember.
More Jamaican cliches and cultural isms to come, right here on M.E. Exposed ; )