Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ropa: camisa vs camiseta vs playera

Every Spanish book I've ever looked at has called a shirt a camisa. And I guess in a generic sense that's correct, but there are actually different words for different types of shirts.

This shouldn't come as a surprise (although it did), as we certainly have our own collection of words for the various styles of shirts in English. In this post I'm going to share what I learned from my amigos Mexicanos.

If you're referring to a button up shirt with a collar, then camisa is the right word. It can be a camisa con mangas cortas (short sleeve shirt) or con mangas largas (long sleeve shirt).

The only other word I had ever heard for shirt was camiseta, which all my books defined as a t-shirt. A camiseta is actually an undershirt, with or without sleeves.

What we call a t-shirt in English would be called a playera in Mexico. A playera can have long or short sleeves. You can also referer to a playera con mangas largas as a jersey. Be sure to say it using Spanish pronunciation.

And of course we can't forget about Polo shirts. The official name for a Polo shirt is a playera estilo Polo. But it's commonly referred to as una Polo.

There's also the turtleneck shirt - cuello tortuga. A sweatshirt is a sudadera.

There you have it. While camisa is a universal Spanish word, the others are mexicanismos, and may or may not be used and/or recognized by Spanish speakers from other countries.


  1. Very informative, thank you for all of the distinctions! I'd like to add that I believe sports jerseys are also referred to as "camisas," but you can correct me if I'm wrong.

  2. Im colombian, spanish is my mother language.

    Camiseta esqueleto: something like tiny sleeves
    Blusa: women shirt
    Camisa con cuello "V": neck "V" shape shirt

    Do not worry about too many definitions, we use generic names too many times: something like "camisa" or "camiseta" could be enough.

    There was something like a fresh clothe for men called "guayabera" some decades ago. And it's used a few today.

    Women and fashion people generally point the material of the clothe:
    franela, algodon, nylon, licra, tela, etc...

    Excuse my English, just trying to help. Bless.

  3. Mexican here. The word jersey has exactly the same meaning it has in English, and is also pronounced the same way.
    In Spanish Castillian they refer to sweaters as Jerseys.

  4. Mexican here, Mexican Spanish is Castillian Spanish. American Corporations like Disney and Netflix created artificial terms; terms like "Latin Spanish" vs. "European" Spanish or "Castillian" Spanish. It's dumb. It's not based in reality but on Geopolitical objectives. Then there should be Argentinian Spanish, Chilean Spanish, Chilango Spanish, Valencia Spanish. Nevertheless, it's a fact we all formally speak "Castillian" or "Castellano"