Viva the Mexican Tourist Jacket

While my closet is full of beautiful cocktail dresses and other lovely frocks, some of my favorite items are my more casual ones.  I have a huge passion for the southwest, and especially California.  I adore palm trees, cacti and old Spanish Missions and all of these come together in one of my favorite vintage items, the Mexican tourist jacket…

This is the most recent addition to my collection, purchased from Diz Has Neat Stuff…While as horrifically un-PC as it is I couldn’t resist the cockfight “chicken dispute” on the back…

For the last few years I’ve been buying these colorful wool felt jackets, attempting to own one in every color while also having a wide design collection as well.  And so far, my collection is of a decent size and I’m only missing a few colors.  When looking at Mexican tourist jackets, one will find that the most common color is red, with the most common design being a dancing couple on the back, such as this one…

Personally, I care little for the dancing couple design, and tend to avoid buying jackets featuring them, owning just this one, which I purchased because I didn’t have a teal colored one yet, and at $16, it was steal.  I find the second most popular styles to be much more interesting, which are variations of Mexican village scenes embroidered with yarn…

Another design variation are jackets which feature appliques that are like detailed silhouettes, cut felt with light single strand embroidered details…such as these two…

Made popular during the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the Mexican tourist jacket was made available in a range of ways.  One could take a sunny vacation in Mexico and return with one, order one as shown here in this ad provided by the ever knowledgeable Lizzie of the Vintage Traveler

Or those with sewing and embroidery skills could make one! Using a pattern such as this…

Interested in making one? You can buy this very pattern from Floradora Presents.

Mexican jackets were even available for little girls.  You can find children’s sizes every so often on-line or in shops.  I bought one not too long ago to hoard for any future child we may have.  I just couldn’t resist at $10.  Sewing patterns for child sizes also exist, such as this one available on Etsy.

In later years, the Mexican jacket moved away from the dancing couple and scenic motifs to feature more floral embroidery designs such as this one, which I, personally, care for a great deal less.

The thing I really love about the Mexican tourist jacket is the colors.  There are so many and it makes for the perfect travel jacket.  Traveling light is important to me, and a key element of that is taking only one jacket.  And, well, it’s kind of hard to have one jacket that goes with every outfit, but since these jackets often have so many colors, it makes it easy to pair it with anything!

So, have I inspired you to buy your own?  Guess what, I’ve saved you the hunt! Check out this treasury I created on Etsy.  Just so you know, I have only seen one lined Mexican jacket in my time (actually owned by one of my friends who found it at the Bins!) so know that they are unlined, and your skin is in direct contact with raw wool felt if you wear short sleeves with the jacket.

21 thoughts on “Viva the Mexican Tourist Jacket

  1. Chicken dispute, heh.

    And thank you so much for highlighting this garment in this post! I had never heard of a Mexican tourist jacket before now, but I definitely see the appeal.

    And that dress is adorable.

  2. I just LOVE mexican tourist jackets..but I don’t own one yet! (crazy, I know!) I’m always tempted, but haven’t found the perfect one yet. I’m definitely envious of your collection! 🙂


  3. Great post! These jackets started catching my eye recently since I’ve been especially loving appliqued and embroidered pieces. I’ve never seen the silhouette versions and now I will be on the lookout! Especially love that mint green one. So special!

  4. i would love one of these jackets for myself, I think the colourful embroidery is lovely. I personally prefer the ones with little scenes on, they’re so cute.

  5. I love Mexican tourist jackets, but have never bought one, because, as you mention, they are not lined and I just find them soooooooooooo itchy and scratchy on my skin! Maybe one day I will buy one and have it lined….

  6. OMG I totally want the black jacket with the donkeys (go figure)!!! Totally bummed that vintage western set doesn’t fit you – you would have looked so adorable in it!

  7. I love the group of tourist jackets you put together here! I have one that I found at Goodwill (and almost had a heart attack over) a year ago, but I still haven’t figured out WHAT to style it with so I can actually wear it out. This post (and your red squaw dress, YES!) has given me some much needed inspiration! 🙂

  8. Yeah, this is really cool! What a great collection of jackets! I’ve never heard or seen these before, but now I’ll know what they are if I stumble across one!

  9. I have always love them so much but never managed to find one in my size in good condition…. Moths love wool and I don’t know why but most of the time bust is less than 40”… But I found my first one in L.A. in march, red in perfect condition for $30!!!
    Will share some pictures soon!
    Your collection is AMAZING!

  10. What a fabulous collection you have! I’ve never really know much about Mexican Tourist jackets so thank you for sharing such a fabulous post about them.

  11. What a fantastic collection! I don’t particularly mind the feel of wool on my skin, so I may need to keep an eye out for a vintage tourist jacket like this to add to my own collection. I think the tan one you’re wearing with the, ahem, chicken dispute on it and the plain silhouette designs are my favorites.

  12. You look so BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love this Mexican inspired outfit, the dress is so vibrant and flirty and the jacket is so cute. I love how colourful these jackets are, they would look so nice with so many things, like cigarette pants or capris!

  13. What a splendidly awesome outfit! Your passion for vintage Southwestern style is nothing short of inspiringly infectious, dear Janey. You’ve got this B.C. gal yearning for some Mexican influenced yesteryear garments of my own something fierce now! 🙂

    ♥ Jessica

  14. I just re-watched The Shining and Wendy is wearing a yellow one in one of the scenes – my boyfriend thought it was amazing.

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