Mariachi History & Info

Mariachi is a genre of regional Mexican music that dates back to at least the 18th century, evolving over time in the countryside of various regions of western Mexico. The usual mariachi group today consists of as many as eight violins, two trumpets and at least one guitar, including a high-pitched vihuela and an acoustic bass guitar called a guitarrón, and all players taking turns singing lead and doing backup vocals.

Mariachi Attire

In the early days, rural mariachis dressed informally. In urban environments, however, with increased employment opportunities and more formal presentations, uniforms became common. When mariachis first acquired the purchasing power to uniform their groups, the apparel they chose most often was the charro suit or traje de charro.

Traje de Charro

In imagery and symbolism, the mariachi has long been associated with Mexico’s charro tradition. The traje de charro is a Mexican adaptation of a type of horseman’s riding outfit that originated in Spain. The gala version of this suit worn by today’s mariachis — with its pantalón de charro (fitted trousers adorned with botonadura and/or greca), chaquetilla (short jacket), cinturón bordado (embroidered belt), botines de charro (ankle-high boots), moño or corbata de rebozo (wide bow tie) and sombrero de charro (wide-brimmed hat) — was once the attire of Mexico’s rural upper class. Although black with silver is considered the most formal color, mariachis today wear trajes de charro in many different colors.

Female Mariachi Attire

In the female version of the traje de charro, a full-length skirt replaces the trousers. Women who perform mariachi music commonly wear feminine varieties of the traje, folkloric dresses, or colorful combinations of blouses and skirts. Some of the more elaborate outfits are decorated with crystals, beads and/or other adornments.