I’m in My Pachuca Era. Here Are 5 Ways I Achieve the Look & Lifestyle

Moving from my home in Mexico to the United States at 3 years old, I often felt overlooked as a child. On the West Coast, I was surrounded by Chicanas, and when I traveled back home south of the border, there were Mexicans. Connected to both, I felt as though I was living in two different worlds. I had to learn how to navigate life through two different lenses. It was at this point that someone told me that I was “ni de aquí, ni de allá.” Those words — neither from here, nor from there — took me on a journey of self-discovery. 
During my teen years, as I searched for my identity, I came back to memories of my grandmother introducing me to the Golden Era of Mexican cinema when I was about 7. I instantly fell in love with the way it represented my culture in such a beautiful way. The women on the screen — such as María Félix, Dolores del Río, and Katy Jurado — were elegant and glamorous in ways I did not see portrayed in U.S. television at that time. It gave me a different perspective of what it meant to be a Mexican woman. Yet, I deeply yearned to find others with a life experience similar to mine — a life full of duality. Then during my teen years, a Latino teacher introduced me to las pachucas, Mexican-American women who fought for equality within society in the 1940s.  

"Las pachucas looked like me, spoke Spanglish, and even rocked frizzy hair, which reminded me of mine. "

nena moreno
Las pachucas straddled two worlds — life in the United States and an upbringing influenced by Mexican culture. In this in-between, you could become lost and feel invisible. However, with their red lipstick, eye-catching victory rolls or bouffants, and broad-shouldered jackets, they stood out. They challenged beauty standards as well as conventional norms, while representing both of their cultures. They inspired me to fully and unapologetically embrace these two — sometimes disparate — parts of myself. 
In following my truth, I also found myself drawn to styles of the past, especially women who bravely told us who they were. Las pachucas looked like me, spoke Spanglish, and even rocked frizzy hair, which reminded me of mine.
Officially in my pachuca era, these bold, vintage-inspired looks are part of my daily style. It gives me joy that I can harmoniously mesh the two cultures that once made me feel disoriented. You can see the cultural inspiration and history in what I wear. Here are five ways that I achieve this lifestyle and how you can embody a pachuca, too.  

Embrace pachuca confidence and resistance. 

You cannot channel your inner pachuca without confidence. While wearing era-specific fashions and makeup will help you achieve the look, you must approach this lifestyle with self-assurance. After all, the pachucas, as first generations of Mexican-American women, resisted assimilation, both by mixing their Mexican culture with their U.S. one and by wearing makeup and clothes that felt true to them. Pachucas wore outfits inspired by the zoot suit — then seen as a racially charged symbol of delinquency. Their style of clothing also made them polarizing figures in the Mexican-American community. Some saw their clothing as dangerous and disruptive of Mexican-American womanhood, and others admired them as a challenge to the status quo and to accepted notions of race, gender, and sexuality in the 1940s.  With this style, I also feel a great responsibility to uphold the honor of those women that came before us.

"Some saw their clothing as dangerous and disruptive of Mexican-American womanhood, and others admired them as a challenge to the status quo and to accepted notions of race, gender, and sexuality in the 1940s."  

nena moreno
To find your own confidence, you must look within. For me, this starts with journaling, which has helped me explore the inner thoughts and experiences I have on a daily basis. I have also made it a practice to admire myself naturally. I look in the mirror every morning before I start my routine and embrace all aspects of myself  — no makeup or fancy outfits. While I love wearing a fun look, no clothing or makeup item can eclipse a beautiful energy. You can even incorporate affirmations or inspirational words to elevate the practice. In the mornings, I regularly read this quote: “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” It’s a friendly reminder to myself of the great resilience of my ancestors — energy that lives within me, too. 
Lastly, I surround myself with items that make me feel at peace and excited for the day ahead. For instance, on my vanity, I keep one of my favorite vintage jewelry pieces: a Mexican gold coin bracelet from the 1950s. It reminds me of my grandparents, who sacrificed so much for us to have a life filled with more opportunities than what was available to them. I also never forget 1940s rumba, bolero, mambo, and pachuco music to set the mood. 

Go bold with your makeup. 

One of the identifying features of las pachucas is their makeup, like a winged eyeliner and a bold lipstick. There is nothing minimalistic  about this look. Luckily, this pairing flatters anyone’s face. So find your favorite eyeliner and lipstick; it is a must-have in your makeup bag. 
One of my all-time favorite black liquid eyeliners is Reina Rebelde’s Zapatista. It goes on smoothly and the applicator helps you to achieve the perfect winged eyeliner with precision. Pair it with a bold lipstick, like a red. It’s a true classic shade appropriate to the pachuca era. If you love gorgeous packaging and sustainability, try Valdé. I use the color Ebullience.

Add volume to your hair. 

Piled high atop their heads, las pachucas also had voluminous hairstyles. They borrowed from mainstream trends but made it their own. The names of the styles can vary, but there is a lot of meaning and intentionality behind each hairdo. Because they were a flip on typical 1940s haristyes, pachucas used their hair to make a statement on their identities or as a way to rebel against racism and rationing. 
The hairstyles can take time to master, but you can find my step-by-step "Pachuca Hairstyle" tutorials on YouTube to guide you through the process. There are multiple styles to fit your vibe and hair length. Since some hairdos take time, I usually only style the front part of my hair and leave the other half of my hair down, styling it with my favorite refresh spray, Rizos Curls’ Refresh & Detangle Spray. And just like the pachucas, you can draw inspiration from 1940s hairstyles, and don’t worry if you don’t achieve perfection. 

Play with masculine and feminine vintage fashion. 

Las pachucas feminized the masculine style of dress by wearing longer and loose-fitting jackets that they paired with feminine silhouettes, such as skirts or formfitting slacks, also known as zoot suits. Their outfits stood in stark contrast to previous conventional ideals within U.S. and Mexican cultures. 
You have a lot of room to play when it comes to the clothing. I tend to go with a more formfitting silhouette, but both are quite striking. To find the most accurate style inspiration, I look for original pachuca street style photos, which brings up black-and-white images of pachucas from that era. 
You might not have these styles in your closet at the moment, so you might need to buy new clothes. Before making a purchase, search through the closets of the men in your life. They might have suit jackets they no longer use. You can also try thrift stores, which have a great selection from a mix of eras.

Make the look your own.

 While you can draw inspiration from pachucas or even those inspired by them, it’s important to make it your own. I love to add vintage accessories, like my Mexican coin bracelet and vintage dangle earrings. I also wear fresh flowers in my hair because they remind me of the beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to get creative, especially when it comes to the accessories. 
Embracing pachuca style is more than just the aesthetics; it’s about the ways that we keep history alive by honoring those who came before us. So infuse your essence into the style. That’s what the pachucas would do. 

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