I’m in My Alabaré Era. Here’s How I Achieve the Look & Lifestyle

Growing up in Reynosa, Mexico, I was raised in a vibrant, loving, and pretty constricted Pentecostal household. Whether at home or in church, I was taught that, as a girl, I needed to be modest. While I was young, I understood that this meant that I needed to behave and dress in ways that didn’t attract “indecent and improper” attention. So I wasn’t allowed to follow most beauty and fashion trends and, instead, wore simple clothes to cover my body. While the girls around me donned fun maximalist or street style looks, my closet was always giving alabanza core: high-neck blouses and long, denim skirts. If the classic coro “Alabaré A Mi Señor” had a music video, I’d be the girl cast in it.
Hailing from diverse corners of Mexico, where garbs are often colorful and textured, my muted wardrobe felt isolating. So as I got older and started to build my own personal style, I rebelled against these homely looks. I started to wear form-fitting clothes, recreated ‘90s vampy makeup looks, and adorned my body with big, gold jewelry. And it felt liberating. 

"Choosing to unlearn the sexist assumptions tied to modesty culture and dressing my body in a way that makes me feel confident helps me to return ownership of my body and life to its rightful proprietress: me."

That’s because, in so many ways, wearing what I want to wear is freeing. While my Christian upbringing has gifted me with a beautiful faith, love, and community, the toxic purity culture I grew up in taught me harmful lessons, like the myth that dressing modestly can guard me from sexual violence in Reynosa, where rape, assault, and abuse are devastatingly high, or the idea that my body doesn’t belong to me. Choosing to unlearn the sexist assumptions tied to modesty culture and dressing my body in a way that makes me feel confident helps me to return ownership of my body and life to its rightful proprietress: me.
Yet, as my personal style journey continues to unfold, I’ve found that I, and many other beauty and fashion content creators, are returning to that once dreaded traditional and simple Pentecostal church aesthetic. Damas y caballeros de la iglesia, the long denim skirt is back. And, to my surprise, I’m choosing to wear it — but only in a way that complements my present personal style. This means I’m pairing jean skirts with form-fitting blouses that have deep necklines, ornate accessories, and grandiose makeup looks that defy meekness and modesty. 

"Being in my alabaré era means I’m reclaiming clothes, styles, and trends in a way that serves me today — and that is worth praise."

Paloma Sánchez
This is what my alabaré era looks like: Aesthetically, it weaves together so many important elements of my youth, personal rebellion, and eventual style reclamation. And it’s also about embracing and celebrating what brought it about in the first place: Latine traditions, love from family, and genuine empowerment expressed by fashion but born through personal struggle. For me, the long denim skirt transcends both religious modesty and trends. Instead, it narrates my journey toward embracing and accepting myself, wholly.
Being in my alabaré era means I’m reclaiming clothes, styles, and trends in a way that serves me today — and that is worthy of praise. Here are five ways you can embrace the alabaré style for yourself.

Make Your Own Style & Beauty Rules.

In religious Mexican households, women are expected to be modest in the ways we speak, behave, and dress. When I was a kid, the rules were very clear: “Don’t provoke men!” “Cover your elbows!” “Don't draw attention to yourself!” And, most importantly, “No pants allowed!” 
When I came into my own, I rejected ideas that how I dress should be dictated by others or that what one wears is reason to judge or, worse, violate them. Throwing out the rulebook and writing my own have been freeing. I now choose when and how I cover (or don’t cover) my body. So when I choose to wear items that might’ve been bought for me as a child, I no longer feel constrained. It is now an expression of my very identity, a sartorial representation of who I am and what I love.

Embrace Comfort, Versatility, and Affordability.

In my alabaré era, I’ve found myself gravitating toward comfortable and versatile basics like long skirts, button-up sweaters, and ballet flats. These items I once detested because of how they were forced on me and symbolized gender-based oppression have become staples in my wardrobe because they offer a beautiful canvas that I can dress up or dress down however I please. For example, I may wear a tía-approved basic button-up sweater, but I’m going to dress it up with accessories, subtle pops of greens and reds in my outfit, and maybe a little exposed collarbone, making this boring church item divis divis!
The best part is that many of these comfort items are also affordable — a word that I’m now starting to appreciate as a young adult. Growing up, I adored all the Mexican pop culture icons: RBD, Teresa, Jenni Rivera, Selena Quintanilla, Belanova, and so many others. But, between the judgments of my community and the classic Latine shopping saying “bueno, bonito, y barato,” I did my back-to-school shopping at thrift stores, tianguis (an outdoor market), y La Walmart — and, at the time, neither one screamed iconic. But now, I find myself scouring these same kinds of stores to pull together my alabaré looks. And reclaiming my style and embracing pieces I once hated, then transforming them into must-have pieces I treasure, well that is the definition of divine, darling. 

Adorn Yourself with Heirlooms.

In my alabaré era, I treasure pieces that help me echo stories of my past, slay outfits of the day, and promise a small piece of beauty for the women who follow — and I find this in family heirlooms, those delicate, old, and priceless hand-me-downs that have become a testament to the endurance of my heritage, strength, and the determination of so many powerful women who came before me. For example, my gold “N” and “K” rings are not just shiny ornaments to dress up a cute ‘fit, they are my mother's and aunt’s quinceañera rings, and they are symbols of strong family bonds, enduring traditions, and shared memories to treasure forever. Wearing these rings not only connects me to my roots, but it also allows me to stay true to myself by highlighting and emphasizing a hidden beauty of wearing sustainable fashion — something that also deeply  matters to me.

Balance Your Outfit With Bold Makeup.

@whor3chata_ 90s vampy lipstick reccomendations #90slipcombo ♬ Clair de lune/Debussy - もつ
As a child, I remember looking with fascination as my older cousins applied eyeshadow, blush, and bold lipstick. I loved the sound of hearing my primas rummage through their makeup bags, and I couldn't wait to have my own. I was 5 when one of my cousins gave me my very first makeup product: a clear lip gloss. On that day, my life changed forever. Drawing inspiration from tianguis, icons, fashionistas, and, of course, my cousins and other women in my family, I began to see makeup not only as a way to have fun and feel pretty, but also as an important tool for honoring my ancestors. 
Now in my alabaré era, this hasn’t changed. Most of my outfits are pretty simple, but I love to compliment them with fun makeup looks. These days I’m really into ‘90s vampy styles. I opt for a sharp long-winged eyeliner and a bold brown lip liner topped with a gloss. 

Reclaim Your Freedom of Expression.

@whor3chata_ makeup look inspired by an iconic latina to celebrate Hispanic heritage month @maccosmeticsusa #latinamakeup #ad ♬ Passionate Spanish guitar, sprinting, impressive(873342) - Hanadayama Music Lab
To paraphrase María Félix, the beloved Old Hollywood Mexican actor and singer, we women have to be more independent. We must be masters of our own destiny. To live in my alabaré era means to live a life beyond the clothes, makeup, and jewelry, a life that embodies and exalts individual expression and self-acceptance. To live in my alabaré era means to live courageously, authentically, and unapologetically. It means that I must claim every aspect of my identity, both the ones I create that are truly my own as well as those passed down to me, so the items and ideas that I once hated and rejected I have now reclaimed on my own terms and in my own time. 
Really, then, my alabaré era is not an era at all; it’s a way of life, my life, and in my life I choose to reject outdated social expectations created by men and enforced by well-meaning women. I choose what, how, and why I wear the clothes I do. How I express myself has empowered me to embrace and retell my unique story. In doing so, I hope to help other women live life unburdened by the judgment of others and celebrate the complex intersections of tradition, beauty, independence, and identity. 
In my alabaré life, I feel pride honoring my roots, passion expressing my individuality, and power living life on my own terms. It is a celebration of authentic selfhood and of an authentic life. Alabaré becomes a place where so-called modest clothing — my former symbols of religious oppression and forced ideals — becomes the canvas upon which I express the love I feel for myself, my family, and my culture.

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