More Information --- First a caution that I would like to make. I am cautious and so is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) to protect children's safety.
What I have found works best is to take some measurements across the shoulder and then try to fit an huipil or outfit from there. There is so much variability in US sizes that I hesitate to try to guess based on a stated US sizes. I will occasionally mention in a write-up for a huipil if it fits me (I am usually a 14 or 16, but wear 12 to 2x depending on the style and maker).
Huipils are traditionally made on a back-strap loom. Thus they are made of rectangular pieces and are not intended to be a fitted garment (this makes it easier to find one that fits you). Mayan women often put tucks or darts in a huipil's shoulder then remove them as a young woman grows.
Most huipils are made of a single panel, two panels or three panels. In a few villages such as Solola the woven panels are made into a more fitting "blouse" form with sleeves (probably derived from early European influence. In some other villages the woven Huipil tradition has transformed into a blouse of commercially produced cloth with embroidery and other finishing that represents the village's tradition or a generic Mayan "huipil" that may be found in many transitional areas.
Single Panel Two Panel Three Panel "Blouse form"
Key measurements for choosing a Huipil to wear are shoulder width and length from shoulder to waist. You can get the measurements directly from you (probably best) or measure across a "T" shirt with sleeves (not dropped shoulders) that is a good fit (if its hard to get someone to measure you).
1. Width - Maximum width of your shoulder:
The huipil should go beyond the width the shoulder and hang down the arms usually somewhere between a couple inches below the shoulder and the elbows, forming the appearance of a sleeve. There is some variability based both on village, age, personal preference…, but I usually recommend at least 25% larger than the maximum of the shoulder to 50% or 100% larger.
Another way to think about it – is to figure how far down the arms you would like the huipil to cover – then hold your arms out wide and have a friend help you measure the width.
2. Length - Length from your shoulder (or little bone in back of neck) to waist
Choosing the right length is a bit of personal preference. Think about whether you want to wear out or tuck in. A woman’s figure is not generally straight, so consider a few more inches in either length and/or width of the huipil to accommodate a fuller form.
3. Neck Opening - Neck and head hole openings on traditional Huipils tend to run small. The main problem usually is getting the head hole of the huipil to fit over your head. Note that we can not guarantee that the neck size of a Huipil fits you. If you want to wear some huipils you may have to open the neck opening and lightly stitch it. Please check your neck and head measurements carefully!
I will be trying to come up with additional guidance on the neck opening, but here are some of the common neck openings you will see in Huipils. Neck openings that are an open slit or already have a slit in them tend to be easier to modify. A oval or circular neck that has very fine embroidery tightly around the neck opening it can be more difficult to modify size (although it is possible) .
Worksheet to figure out Huipils (Woven Blouses) that Might work for You
Most Mayan villages wear a wrap-around tube skirt that they step into and then wrap several times around their waist, holding the skirt up with a wrap-around belt. The total length of the skirt material in the tube skirt can be from 4 to 5 yards (a long piece of material). In some villages the skirt material length is less (2 to 4 yards).
If you are planning on wearing a Mayan skirt I suggest you also plan to use a belt (see options available from Terra Experience http://terraexperience.com/p_faja_belts_sashes.html or use a belt you already have). A Mayan women steps into center of her long tube skirt, pulls it up and then makes appropriate folds and tucks in the skirt material as she wraps it around herself. The type of folds seem to vary a bit from village to village, as well as the marital status of the woman and well as her personal preferences and form.
The Mayan women then wrap long belts around their waist often many times and then tuck the end of the belt into the wound portion of belt in a way that usually manages to hold everything up quite firmly. It takes some skill to do so (I sometime get it right, other times....). I've also noted a Mayan friend or two carefully adjusting her belt and skirt at times - before heading to the market, just to make sure everything holds up. The wider belts also provide some support for a woman as she carries her kids around or a another heavy load on her back.
Plan B (for someone who wants to wear a Mayan skirt) would be to do some sewing (or find someone that can do some sewing for you). For the doll skirts I have someone put a simple hem in with a piece of elastic to hold the skirt up. Its simple and it works. If you are a skilled sewer you may want to consider something more elaborate (I stick to elastic waist bands based on my sewing capability).
Some villages such as Coban and Quetzaltenago traditionally use a hem with draw strings to hold up the skirt. It works ok for an adult. BUT - I DO NOT RECOMMEND DRAW STRING SKIRTS FOR CHILDREN!!! ITS A SAFETY HAZARD FOR CHOKING!!! I don't sell any skirts that are child sized that have draw strings, even if they are traditional for the village. In fact when I am talking to my friends in Guatemala, I note that draw string skirts are a danger for children and suggest they replace the cord with a piece of elastic for their own children.
Most Guatemala villages wear their skirts long, several inches above the ground. A few villages such as Chichicastenago usually wear their skirts about knee length or slightly longer. Personal preferences and generational styles may also affect skirt length.
Worksheet to figure out Corte (skirts) that Might work for You
If you have suggestions for
helping me improve this guidance - Does it help? Is it confusing?
Did it work for your? I really would appreciate your ideas and comments.