The ancient Maya are well-known for their exotic, vibrant, appearances and practice of unusual body modifications. They exploited the materials available to them in their tropical environments to manufacture colourful textiles and striking ornamentation. They produced a wide range of outfits for different occasions, including lavish dress for large public events; vibrant dance costumes; protective armour for conflicts; sporting attire; and simpler, yet no less sophisticated, clothing for everyday situations.

During large public events, where the community would come together to witness the performance of rituals or other ceremonial duties, the ruling elite would wear large, lavish, outfits to reflect their important positions in society. These outfits would include large feathered headdresses, jade jewellery, and clothing made from the skins of dangerous animals (such as jaguars). Images of such lavish outfits are often seen on carved monuments set in public areas of ancient Maya sites, for all the community to see. Today, men generally wear Euro-American style pants and shirts. Women display a range from modern to traditional in their clothes. Many women wear plain color, full-length dresses sewn from a variety of bright color material, with lace trimmings around the collar and sleeves. Other women use calf length skirts of machine or hand woven cloth. Blouses are made of white or colored cotton cloth and decorated with embroidery or lace trimmings.