Guayaberas vs. Filipinas: What's the Difference?

The guayabera shirt is a piece of Latin American fashion for both men and women with a rich history and recognition due to its utility, freshness, and style.

Despite this, a common mistake among people who don't frequently wear guayabera shirts is confusing them with a similar garment: the Filipina.

Both shirts are often confused with each other due to their many similarities in construction and aesthetics.

If you want to learn how to distinguish a genuine guayabera from a Filipina, we have the solution for you.

We will highlight the differences between these two garments in terms of their origins and aesthetics to make you an expert.

Keep reading!


Origin: Different Continents


We have talked about the origin of the guayabera shirt in the past in another article. However, we'll provide a brief summary of the beginnings of the famous Havana shirt:

The guayabera has its origins in Cuba, starting in the 18th century. It is believed to have been designed by a guava farmer named José Gonzalez, who sought a comfortable and cool garment for working in high temperatures while still being able to store what he harvested.

Over time, the guayabera shirt evolved to become a military uniform and, consequently, formal attire.

In contrast, the Filipina, also known as "barong tagalo," is a lightweight traditional shirt that originated in the Philippines. Its significance is such that it became the official attire of the Philippines in 1975.

There are two theories about its origin:

  • The first theory states that during the Spanish conquest (16th century), the Spanish colonial rulers ordered Filipino natives to wear a garment covering their torsos.
  • The second theory suggests that the Filipina was inspired by the Cuban guayabera in a kind of cultural exchange in the 18th century.

Part of the global confusion between these two garments started here because at that time, guayabera shirts were marketed as "Filipinas" in Mexico.

What's the Aesthetic Difference?

This is where the historical confusion between these two garments begins. Are guayabera shirts and Filipinas the same? The answer is no, and we'll explain why.

Type of Fabric


The first distinction revolves around the type of fabric used to make the white Cuban shirt and Filipinas.

Filipinas were originally made from pineapple or "jusi" (a Filipino fabric made from abaca or banana silk).

Guayabera shirts, on the other hand, offer more fabric options. They can be made from cotton, silk, linen, synthetic fabrics, or a blend of all the above.

At Ramón Puig, we offer the finest guayabera outfits, so don't hesitate to visit our website to explore them all.

Number of Pockets

This is the most obvious and significant difference.

Since its creation four centuries ago, the authentic guayabera shirt has had four (4) pockets on the front of the garment, while the Filipina has no pockets.


One fact that distinguishes the Filipina from the guayabera shirt is the number of ornaments on each. The Cuban shirt has more elements, particularly, the Filipina is characterized by its simplicity in this regard.


Another important difference lies in the upper part of the shirt.

This distinction makes it easier to distinguish one from the other because the collar of the guayabera shirt is made in the Italian style with a double reinforcement so that it looks elegant and powerful on its own. Let's remember that guayaberas are not worn with a tie.

In contrast to the Filipina, they opted for a more Asian style with Mao-style collars to maintain a smooth continuous look of the shirt without incorporating the famous flaps at the top.

Ornaments and Pintucks

We've already explained the main differences between these two garments. However, the devil is in the details when it comes to distinguishing them.

The traditional decoration of linen men's shirts allows for pintucks, vertical pleats on the left and right sides of the guayabera, alongside its 4 pockets. In contrast, the Filipina is simpler in its incorporation of ornaments.

This Asian garment typically adds pleats as well, but this design can be omitted to leave a small pocket, add small holes in the same position as the pleats, or simply be left plain.

Which One Suits Me Better?


The choice of one garment over the other depends on you, not us.

However, on this side of the tropics, we recommend Ramon Puig guayaberas as an excellent choice for your formal events when you want to look elegant yet comfortable.

You are welcome to visit us year-round, either at our physical store located at 5840 SW 8th St. in Miami or on our website. You can explore designs, sizes, colors, and the prices of the world's finest guayaberas.

We look forward to seeing you!