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How My Mom and Tías Inspired My Style

Why This Sexy Fashion Trend My Mami and Tías Sported in the '90s Is Still My Favorite Today

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With so many fashion trends from my childhood in the '90s reemerging lately, I can't help but think back on the most fashionably influential people I knew at that time: my mami and my tías. As a young girl, I would watch them get ready each day through eyes of pure adoration, quietly counting down the days until I might be allowed to emulate their most classic looks (dark lip liner and excessive amounts of hairspray included).

One of their favorite style choices that profoundly impacted my understanding of fashion as a little girl was the combination of a transparent (usually black) top paired with a visible, solid black bra underneath. While granting public access to typically controversial undergarments gave my matriarchal heroes an edge in my eyes, their bold style choices also taught me to not allow anyone to dictate what I wore and to trust that even a simple bra can be the most daring fashion statement.

The Look

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The transparent top with a solid bra underneath was so much a staple combination in my mom's closet that she'd wear it nearly everywhere she went. Yes, including to the airport, as pictured above in what is probably the most fashion-forward outfit anyone has ever worn in an airport to date. The irony, however, is that she was otherwise a rather private person in those days. You didn't know much about her unless you knew her well, but on any given day in the '90s, you might get a glimpse of a typically private piece of clothing only because she chose to let you see it. And that was empowering to both her and the little girl she was raising.

However, this trend that empowered my mami then — and continues to empower me today — did not start with her. It was influenced by yet another beautiful and strong Latina I adored: Selena Quintanilla.

The Source of Inspiration

Selena was an exceptionally talented Mexican American singer who revolutionized beauty standards for women long after her death in 1995. During her all-too-brief time as Latin America's sweetheart, she was revered for her angelic singing voice and glistening, red-lip-lined smile. But it was the plethora of brassiere-centric looks she sported during her career that seems to have had the biggest impact on young Latinas around the world, including the ones who raised me.

Selena's style may have been deemed provocative by some at the time, but her unapologetic expression of self, paired with the way she embraced her femininity by taking ownership over the parts of her body that were otherwise regulated by outsiders, served as a source of inspiration for my mother and her sisters. They raised me, as a result, in a household that both encouraged bra visibility when I was of age to wear one and equipped me with the confidence to consider only my standards of beauty and comfort when picking out an outfit for the day. This freedom of expression, inspired by our beloved "Selenas," continues to be a source of inspiration in my outfit choices today, and I couldn't be more thankful for it.

Image Source: Ashley Ortiz
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