Chicas, it’s no secret that we love to make a fashion statement. We step out in style and it’s part of our cultura. Latinas dress to impress to run to the bodega or pick up our dry cleaning. (We’ll even throw on a fabulous pañuelo to cover up our rollers or doobie.) Whether you’re in Spanish Harlem, Hialeah or East L.A., there’s no doubt you’ll see Latina street style superstars. Our appearance means everything to us, and we put on quite the fashion fête. We’ve even been wearing fajas since the beginning of time, way before celebrities were on Instagram donning waist-trainers. And, as the true blue fashionistas that we are – we spend $30 billion on apparel and accessories. BAM! The proof is in the pudín de pan!
Taking pride in how we present ourselves is also in our DNA. We embrace it at an early age (probably since la cuna) and we can thank our mamis for that. They wouldn’t let us leave the house with one curly hair wiggling out of place. Dresses were dainty, patent shoes were super shiny and flowing hair ribbons made us look like real-life dolls. Now imagine when it comes to those special occasions: from christening and first communion dresses to Quinceañera and wedding gowns, Latinas go all out. Polished head-to-toe. Because, ¿qué van a decir la gente?
Consejito: We all love to look sexy, just don’t bare it all. The key is to expose only one body part. For example, if you’re showing off those gorgeous legs – don’t show off cleavage as well. Leave a little for the imagination, Chicas!
We rock the latest looks, leafing through fashion magazines and always staying on trend. In the 80s, I was looking fly wearing neon colors, gold hoop earrings, pinstriped Lee jeans, shell top Adidas, Lacoste polos (alligator shirts) with the collar popped, oversized blazers and shoulder pads on everything. The 90s was all about ripped jeans, Doc Martens, Chuck Taylors, color-blocked windbreakers, bomber jackets, grunge wear, denim overalls and biker shorts.
Through the years, we’ve seen more and more apparel chains targeting us. (I handled PR for Marshalls, Sears and Kmart – so I know firsthand the efforts being made to capture the almighty Latina dollar.) We obsess over fashion, over-index in clothing spending, and wield tremendous purchasing power! Naturally, it was only a matter of time before retail giants took notice of this. After all, it affects their bottom lines and makes good business sense. Whether it’s a blouse on clearance for $15 or a new season item for $450 – if it looks good on us we are buying it. Punto. So, retailers are creating TV spots in Spanish, translating their e-commerce websites, using Latina models in their print ads, and investing in Hispanic marketing and social media efforts. Even recently – Target launched a campaign during Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Consejito: Bright accessories literally brighten up an outfit! Pair that beloved LBD (little black dress) with fire engine red pumps, a sunflower hued clutch purse or an azure blue silk scarf. Voila!
Retailers’ obsession with us (yes, it works both ways!) doesn’t stop there. You know how proud we are to see fashion-forward Latina megastars doing their thing. They’re a beautiful representation of us, so when our Chicas launch a clothing line with huge fanfare – we’re the first ones at the register with credit card in hand. Jennifer Lopez’s successful line at Kohl’s includes hip-hugging jeans and skintight dresses. Eva Mendes’ revered collection at New York & Company offers glamorous jewelry and ultra feminine strapless dresses. For Macy’s, Thalia designed a much talked about line of super cool moto jackets and stylish rompers. Penélope Cruz and her sister Monica created lingerie that is chic, daring, seductive and edgy for Agent Provocateur. Their collections speak to us, resonate with our lifestyle, tell our stories and offer something for each and every one of us.
Much to my delight, Latino designers have conquered the world of fashion. We’re talking about style icons who are known across the globe, have dressed the most famous women in modern times including numerous First Ladies, received countless prestigious awards and honors, succeeded with top-of-the-line fragrance collections and count the rich and famous as die-hard fans. Wepa! The revered Cuban designer, Narciso Rodriguez is legendary for creating timeless silhouettes with an architectural yet feminine energy. I had the pleasure of interviewing him last year as he spoke of his Latin heritage influencing his incredible work. Read it here. Dominican designer, Oscar de la Renta distinguished himself as a ready-to-wear fashion powerhouse of glamorous evening wear. And, the critically acclaimed Venezuelan designer, Carolina Herrera is known for her elegance and breath-taking collections.
Combine that deep-rooted love of fashion with extraordinary talent and it’s no wonder we’re seeing up-and coming Latina designers taking the industry by storm. Argentinean jewelry designer, Mariana Lopez Osornio uses cow horn, brass, quartz, amazonite, turquoise and magnecite in her gorgeous eco-friendly collection – MLO Jewelry. Dominican designer, Erika Peña creates magnificent tribal necklaces from the elements of the earth such as volcanic and semi-precious stones, sea glass, wood, brass, onyx and more. Puerto Rico’s Former Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera designed a playful, tropics-inspired swimwear line – ZK Swimwear. Brazilian designer, Alessandra Gold created a sleek, street-inspired collection of sneakers called KRUZIN.
Recently, I covered the second largest fashion week in the country – Miami Fashion Week. Considered the world’s only international platform focused exclusively on resort wear lines, it showcased the magnificent collections of seven Latino designers. ¡Que belleza! It was a feast for the eyes. Read it here.
Consejito: If you’re like me, you have a ton of clothes – some of which you haven’t worn in years. Time to edit and purge that closet. If you’re not into the print, donate it. If it’s too small or too big, donate it. And, if you’re not feeling the look, you guessed it – donate it.
Latina models are also taking designer runaway shows by storm and gracing the covers of leading style magazines. We already know some of the world’s crème de la crème: Brazilian models Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio; Puerto Rican model Joan Smalls; Venezuelan model Patricia Velasquez and Dominican model Omahyra Mota. The emergence of Latina models continues, and some of the fiercest models are Ellen Rosa (Brazilian), Ines Rivero (Argentinean), Mariana Zaragoza (Mexican), Lineisy Montero (Dominican) and Sessilee Lopez (Dominican-Portuguese).
Last but not least, Latina bloggers and influencers are a force to be reckoned with! These trendsetters partner with some of the world’s largest fashion brands and score front row seats at the shows, VIP entrance at store openings and loads of much coveted swag. Major style gurus (i.e. Julie Sariñana, Daniela Ramirez, Flor de Maria Rivera, Annie Vazquez, Jenny Lopez, Kelly Saks Guerra, Monique Frausto) model the latest trends and share #OOTD inspiration, expert tips, ways to mix prints and patterns, and so much more.
Latinas not only have a strong sense of style, we have a strong sense of self. We embrace our curves, switch up our looks at the drop of a hat, give a new twist to timeless classics and experiment with the latest trends. An afternoon shopping spree with our squad is followed-up with a happy hour celebration of our fashion finds. We spend, bargain-hunt, swap clothes, take cues from style TV shows and are fearless when it comes to fashion. And, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Chicas, where do you get your sense of style? Who’s inspired you the most in the world of fashion? Please share your thoughts as I’d love to hear from you!
Mamá decía, “Si amar la moda es un crimen, me declaro culpable.”