Bold, bright and vivid colors usually come to mind when people think of Latin fashion. This easily corroborates the commonly held perception of Hispanic men as “Latin Lovers” and their female counterparts as being “fiery Latinas” and “hot señoritas”. The popularity of Hollywood celebrities such as Antonio Banderas, Fernando Lamas, Ricardo Montalban, Rita Hayworth, Raquel Welch, Carmen Miranda, Eva Longoria, and Sofia Vergara – and the roles that secured their fame – have certainly helped to perpetuate these perceptions. Crossover musicians such as Shakira and Ricky Martin have also relied on these hypersexualized tropes.
A celebration of physical appearance and sexual attractiveness is certainly part and parcel of Latin culture and fashion, but Latin style goes far beyond that. There are a wide range of aesthetic traditions across the various communities in Latin America, from São Paulo to Mexico City to Colombia, Peru, the Caribbean, Cuba, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Argentina.
Latin fashion can be evoked with a wide range of adjectives: rich, colorful, full of flavor, strong, elegant, graceful, free-spirited, bohemian. You can expect intricate and exquisite embroidery, vibrant textures, and radiant patterns. The eye-catching ruffles worn by flamenco dancers have been translated to modern sleeves and skirts, marrying the past with the present. People often expect Latin fashion to make dramatic statements with color and texture, but it also encompasses a more subtle, subdued, and monochromatic outfits.
Here are some Latina celebrity inspirations to give you some ideas of how you can incorporate elements of Latin style into your wardrobe:
Lopez has a versatile fashion style that mirrors her multifaceted career as a dancer (she specialized in ballet, jazz and flamenco), pop singer, successful actress, all-round entertainer, and former American Idol judge. Despite the down-to-earth messages in hits such as “I’m Real” and “Jenny From the Block”, she often opts for an unmistakably dramatic style choices.
She has been recognized with fusing luxury and glamour with a streetwise sensibility – as befitting her trajectory from a Bronx-born dancer to the highest paid Latin American actress in Hollywood. In the 90s, Lopez earned her fashion icon status for wearing a white crop top and tight white jeans with a bandana and a diamond-encrusted belt. She also wore baggy pants, jumpsuits, stretch denim outfits, bodysuits, leather skirts, thigh-high boots and flashy accessories.
Lopez is in a league of her own when it comes to dresses. Few women will dare to match the green Versace dress she wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards, but you can capture a part of her daring spirit by opting for dresses that accentuate your curves – and magnetize attention with some sparkle and glimmer.
Spanish actress and model Penélope Cruz has an enduring relationship with fashion both on and off the screen. She has designed clothing for Mango, starred in fashion industry parody Zoolander 2, placed Donatella Versace, and transformed herself into a cinema style icon in films such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Volver, and Vicky Christina Barcelona.
In Volver, Cruz’s made domestic outfits ooze sexiness and danger with bold color contrasts and bright floral patterns. Her outfits in Vicky Christina Barcelona were more bohemian and subdued, but nevertheless radiated a sultry sensuality.
Like Lopez, Gomez has balanced a more casual and streetwise sensibility with traditional glamour. She often incorporates a whimsical style into her outfit choices and tends to stay on the subtle side of sexy. Think of a loud burst of color in an otherwise subdued outfit, floor-length coats matched with a blouse and denim, and a blurring of bohemian styles with high fashion chic.