6 Decades Of Mexican And Mexican-American Style Evolution

Chicana and Mexican beauty from the last century.

Mexican and Mexican-American fashion, while sharing the same roots, were uniquely shaped by different trends in the last century.

This week BuzzFeed posted a video that took us through the iconic Mexican-American looks of the last century. From the Pachuca Chula of the 1940s to the East LA punk look of the early 2000s, the six looks included in the video encompassed so much of Mexican-American history.

Cut Video published a video in April titled "100 Years of Beauty: Mexico," which showed us the evolution of Mexican beauty and style, and we noticed how much of it was influenced by American cinema and culture. Mexican-American style was also influenced incredibly by American culture, but in a completely different way.

While Mexican fashion saw the result of American exports like film and magazines, Mexican-American style was directly the product of political issues, economic inequality and the creativity of the Mexican-American community.

With this in mind, we thought it would be fun to place the videos side by side in order to see the stark differences between Mexican and Mexican-American fashion and style, proving once and for all that not all Mexicans are the same.

Take a look at the 6 decades of Mexican and Mexican-American style below.


Cut Video

After World War II, where many Mexican-Americans enlisted and fought abroad, Mexican-American men and women began to develop a style all their own. The Pachuco look, which can be seen in BuzzFeed's video, consisted of flamboyant zoot suits, pork pie hats and long watch chains. The economic inequality Mexican-Americans faced even after fighting for their country spurred activism and sense community which would eventually turn into the Chicano Movement of the 1960s.

In Mexico, American film influences were permeating the culture and influencing the fashion of the time. The above look from Cut Video is inspired by Mexican silver screen bombshells like Maria Felix and Katy Judardo.


Cut Video

Rockabilly music and fashion swept through America in the 1950s, inspiring the Boulevard Queen look with its signature curled horns and polka-dot dresses. Ritchie Valens along with Chuck Barry and Elvis blasted out of car radios as Mexican-Americans drove their lowriders through LA.

While Mexican-Americans were reveling in Americana culture, globalization hit Mexico hard and Western advertisements began popping up everywhere in the country. Mexican women continued to embody cinema looks and styles.


Cut Video

The Chicano Movement, which cemented the Mexican-American identity and gave it its own name, grew out of the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s. College students pushed universities to include Chicano studies in their curriculum and women worked to address Mexican-American women's issues and immigration. We can also see a tribute to the Brown Berets, an arm of the Chicano Movement, in the BuzzFeed video with her beret.

In Cut Video's video, we can see Mexican women are still heavily influenced by American cinema and fashion.


Cut Video

The Chola look of the 1980s was influenced heavily by hip-hop, Pachuco fashion and somewhat by gang culture. It came largely out of the resourcefulness of impoverished Mexican-American women who shared clothes with their brothers and bought workwear labels at local supermarkets. Dark lip-liner, oversized flannel shirts buttoned to the top and hair AquaNetted into the perfect bump all are key components of the Chola aesthetic.

Mexican fashion at the time was all about the blush, hairspray and candy lips. The result of American exports, Mexican style looked like a carbon copy of the neon-chic American '80s.


Cut Video

Selena was a fashion force as well as a music icon in America. The Queen of Tejano music mainstreamed Mexican-American culture and music in a huge way. Her "suggestive" outfits and distinct performance style influenced Mexican-American women and cemented Selena as a fixture in both American and Mexican-American culture.

The era of Thalia saw Mexican women embracing quintessentially '90s looks like curly, beachy locks and obviously the scrunchie. Gotta have that scrunchie.


Cut Video

Channeling the activism of the 1940s and 1960s, the LA punk look of the 2000s allows Mexican-Americans to physically show their strength and solidarity. Many punk Chicano bands, like The Plugz, Union 13 and The Zeros formed in the decades before but their music continues to influence style and dress today.

In Mexico, women's fashion became sleek and simple with heavy brows and bright lipstick. The telenovela Rebelde premiered in 2004 and sky-rocketed highlights and straight, shiny hair into Mexican fashion history.

Watch the full videos below:

And this is just the beginning. Check out more Mexican-American looks here.