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National Dress of Costa Rica

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Fashion
Wordcount: 2045 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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National Dress of Costa Rica

Table of Contents

Investigating: (Criterion A) ……………………………………………………………………. 3

Planning: (Criterion B) ………………………………………………………………………… 5

Taking Action: (Criterion C) …………………………………………………………………… 7

Reflection: (Criterion D) …………………………………………………………………….… 9

Works Cited ……………………………………………………………………………………. 11

Investigating: (Criterion A)

  • The fundamental goal of this project was to create a long flowing traditional dress from Costa Rica. The dress is meant to embody Costa Rica’s rich culture and ‘Pura Vida’ or pure life. At first, I thought it was going to be really easy to accomplish this but in reality, there was a lot of errors, trials, and several sessions of starting over to finally finish the dress.
  • The project mainly connects to personal and cultural expression seeing as this dress was meant to represent my culture. It also coheres with the fact that the dress is mainly used for dancing and that in itself is expression of the body. In Costa Rica, schools hold dances and events that require students to wear traditional dress and learn choreography.
  • Costa Rica has always been a big part of my life. Ever since I was merely 2 months old, I would travel back and forth from Costa Rica and the United States due to the fact that the majority of my family lives there. In Costa Rica, tradition has not faded away and dressing in the national dress is typical even in school settings. My cousins constantly had dances at school that required them to wear beautiful dresses in various colors to dance, and they even have a day dedicated to going to school in the typical outfits. I personally have always wanted to wear one. Whenever I would go to the dances as an audience member, I would admire the girls dancing. Even if they couldn’t dance very well, they still looked tremendously beautiful. I am also a very creative person and I love to sew. This gave me an opportunity to unleash my inner artist and create something beautiful that represent my heritage which is something I am really proud of. It also gave me an opportunity to expand my knowledge on my culture and also on sewing. I was really excited because I had only ever done small projects.
  • My prior knowledge I had about traditional dresses was limited but effective. I knew that the dress had two parts, was quite flared, and came in a multitude of colors. I had an abundance of knowledge in sewing although I has only ever done smaller projects rather than this massive dress. I wanted to be able to expand my knowledge on sewing and also just my culture. Due to the fact that the dress I wanted to create is very elaborate and intricate when it came to how to make it, I had to pay close attention to the instructions that I was given to achieve it. I regard myself as a highly creative person, so I knew I could not only make the dress but also make it personalized so that it represented me as a person and my heritage.
  • The research I conducted for this project was primarily online. I used a video and several articles about my subject. Many of the articles gave me useful insight on traditional dresses and their variations, purpose, and how they came to be. The first step is to actually know about the dresses. Costa Rican traditional outfits for women are consisted of long bright colored skirts called golas, white ruffled blouses with trimming in different colors, and leather sandals. Women typically braid their hair and pair it with flowers, which is usually the country’s flower, Guardia morada. Women sometimes wear an apron that matches the trims on the blouse. (Culture Trip). They also wear black necklaces as well. The dresses have not changed for a very long time in style but change a lot in color. The dresses also vary depending on which province you are located in. Costa Rica is composed of seven different provinces: San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon. The most popular colors are red, white, and blue which reflect Costa Rica’s flag. Although I did not include typical men outfits in my project, I did research what they wear. The clothes men wear is simpler and more masculine. Men wear white hats, a neckerchief with the knot tied in the front (usually in a bright color to match the dresses and to attract attention since basically the whole outfit is white), a white or light-colored shirt, long pants, and leather sandals which are called caites. Some men carry machetes which are more of a traditional touch since they were used (and are still used) when farming to cut away plants (Culture Trip).

Planning: (Criterion B)

  • For my criteria, I developed it based on a few things. First, I wanted to make the dress coherent making sure all the colors match and the fabrics are amazing quality. Second, I wanted to my dress to be complex but simple at the same time. I wanted it to have everything a dress you would be able to find in Costa Rica would have and more. Although, I wanted it to be simple at the same time so it does not get to the point where you cannot tell it’s the national dress anymore. As stated before, the dress comes in many color combinations, styles, and trimmings. I wanted mine to be simple and like I said before, representative of my heritage. I went through many trials of starting my dress. I started designing but I was really not liking any of my designs. I didn’t want it to be to bold but I also didn’t want it to be simple.
  • I started the project seven months ago in July. At first all I would do id doodle ideas out or brainstorm but never actually commit to anything. It started out quite slow, but I pushed through it and everything started falling into place. I’m a really indecisive person when it comes to making big decisions so in the beginning, I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was somehow I would make a dress and it would be spectacular. I started to think about what colors I should do. At first, I wanted to do a pink and white one but quickly crossed that out simply because I wanted to express my heritage in the best way possible. I choose red, white, and blue in the end because they are the colors of the Costa Rican flag. Managebac really helped me out during this time due to that fact that whenever I would have an idea, I would put it down in an entry. Even though I may have not done many of my ideas, it was still very helpful because I could go back and see what I wanted to do and what I didn’t. No ideas are bad ideas was basically my philosophy at this point. When I finally knew what I wanted to do, I set many goals. Sometimes I didn’t complete them in time but better late than never.
  • I had the hardest time with self and time management. I also wish I did a better job at documenting my project through more pictures and videos. Like stated before I am a very creative person and I love to do several other crafts. I got sidetracked many times with other projects I was working on and also juggling school around. I’m also frequently get a state of mind called art block which is when you don’t really have any inspiration or motivation to do any art. I tried really hard to get everything done whenever I could, but it was really hard and stressful. I also just needed time to enjoy my teenage years and go out with friends.

Taking Action: (Criterion C)

  • I completed my goal which was to make the dress and learn about all the types of styles and customizations which I also did. My criteria were to make the top and bottom of the dress with trimmings in different colors. My dress is in red, white, and blue which are the colors of the Costa Rican flag and the belt has the national flower and coffee beans which is what Costa Rica is known for. I also put the national saying which is ‘Pura Vida’ or pure life. I am extremely proud of my product. It looks exactly how I envisioned it was going to be and more. It definitely aligns with my criteria and fits me perfectly which is extremely important. The skirt is super flared, and I can bring the fabric all the way over my head. I originally wasn’t going to put a belt, but it adds a personal touch.
  • My thinking process for accomplishing my goal was to make a spectacular dress that people would look at and just be blown away by how pretty it is. I had to make sure that the dress would be sewn to perfection and that none of the seams would tear when in use. I thought that by adding a belt to the dress with a few small things would still make a big impact due to the symbolism behind them. I choose silky fabrics to give a beautiful and elegant look to the dress and thought that it would attract more attention. I also choose shades of red, white and blue that would stand out. I got 1 yard of fabric for each shade, so I had 3 yards of fabric plus the fabric for the shirt which was also a yard. By getting a lot of fabric it allowed me to make the dress in a way where when it was finished, I could lift the skirt over my head. That was a very important decision because it makes the dress more eye catching when in action.
  • Communication and social skills were not huge factors in my project due to the fact that I would spend hours and hours alone in a room sewing. Although I did have to communicate with some people. I consulted my grandmother, who taught me everything she knows, as well as my great grandmother who has made these dresses before. With the combined instruction from both of them I was able to complete my project. It was very easy to talk to them and they guided me through everything.

Reflection: (Criterion D)

  • My criteria were to have a finished and coherent dress. The quality of my dress is amazing, and I love everything about it. There are very few things I would change about it. One thing I wished I did though was make it more unique to me and my personality.
  • Completing this topic improved my knowledge about my topic tremendously. I originally didn’t know a lot about the dress such as how to make it and also that it had different styles based on where you live. If I had not done this project, I would have never learned all the knowledge I did during this time period.
  • As an IB learner, I think I learned something extremely important. To try even if you think you won’t succeed. Before this project, I had a hard time with trying new things and attempting to do stuff. If I thought I couldn’t do it before, I wouldn’t ever even attempt it because I was scared to fail. This project brought me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to take risks and the worst thing that could happen is that things don’t work out. If I don’t at least try, then I would never know what could have been. This is an extremely important life lesson because I don’t want to live with any regrets. In conclusion, I was able to challenge myself with this enormous project and successfully completed it.


Works Cited

  • Castro, Grachyy. Como Hacer Las Faldas Circular y Media Circular. YouTube, YouTube, 15 Jan. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyF1AFV-UvA.
  • “Costa Rica Typical Costumes.” Restaurantes Costa Rica, 9 July 2012, www.costaricainfolink.com/en/costa-rica-typical-costumes/.
  • News, The costa Rica. “Colorful and Majestic Costa Rican Costumes.” The Costa Rica News, 23 July 2018, thecostaricanews.com/colorful-and-majestic-costa-rican-costumes/.
  • Parker, Jenn. “An Introduction to Costa Rica’s National Dress.” Culture Trip, 13 Mar. 2017, theculturetrip.com/central-america/costa-rica/articles/an-introduction-to-costa-ricas-national-dress/.


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