The women's dress is the closest to Inca costume worn anywhere in the Andes. (Meisch, 1987, p. 10). Women are dressed in white blouses, blue skirts and shawls. Jewelry is also an important addition to the Otavalena's outfit- layers of necklaces of predominantly gold beads, and red coral bracelets are the most common form of jewelry worn by the Otavalo women. Although visitors to the area view their dressing styles as quaint or cute, to the Otavaleno, their dress is connected to their Indian identity and is a way to outwardly express their ethnicity.
In Otavalo, many Indians still speak their native Quichua language, another
strong piece of evidence of their ability to hold on to traditional cultural
values and practices despite years of oppression from colonization.
Many vendors speak both Quichua and Spanish, and some even know a little
English or French, but for the most part, Quichua is still commonly spoken
at home among the Otavalenos, and is the first language of most Indigenous
families. This, tied in with the traditional clothing styles, are
powerful ethnic markers that defines the Indigenous Otavalenos as specifically
(Information for this page taken from: Meisch, Lynn. (1987).
Otavalo: Weaving, Costume and the Market.
Quito: Imprenta Esquina.)