10 Things California Cholas Were Rocking in the ’90s

Chola style has always been a balance of timeless, classic elements, mixed with the trends of the time

90s Chola Style HipLatina

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Chola style has always been a balance of timeless, classic elements, mixed with the trends of the time. You can look back at photos from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and see some of the same brands and looks, but also different makeup, hair, or other things that reflected only the trends from those decades. The ’90s are a decade that many are looking back to now for nostalgia, and for recycling trends. So it’s fitting that we are taking a look at the 10 items that were part of the chola aesthetic during the 1990s.wp_*posts



Dickies are one of those classics that you will see on cholas, cholos, and a lot of other people today. They are the quintessential work pants that create a stiff, sleek line. In the ’90s, pants were especially oversized, and were belted with extra-long, military-style web belts with interchangeable initial buckles. The company also makes shorts, which are worn with tall socks and sneakers, or slippers.


Skinny Eyebrows

Super skinny eyebrows were a big beauty trend in the ’90s. Some tweezed their brows thin, and then penciled them into the desired shape. Others tweezed or shaved half off the brow and then penciled, while others just removed them completely and filled them back in. Some went for a more natural line, there were some brows that were super-arched, super-long, or just super-cray.


Ben Davis

Ben Davis is the other timeless label, that is also known as a workwear brand. Their shirts, overalls, Gorilla Cut (oversized) pants, jackets, beanies and more, emblazoned with the Gorilla, all fit into the cholo aesthetic.


Nike Cortez


The Nike Cortez debuted in 1972 as a running shoe, and since then, has become an essential part of any chola wardrobe. These were definitely rocked in the 1990s, with Dickie’s or Ben Davis pants, jeans, or shorts. With shorts, they were also worn with tall socks. The black with the white Nike Swoosh, or the white with the black Swoosh are the most popular, but these shoes come in a variety of colors and patterns.


Gold Jewelry

Gold jewelry was (and still is) the bling of ’90s chola fashion. Hoop earrings, rings, and nameplate necklaces were more often than not in gold. Roses, la Virgen de Guadalupe, and names or initials are just some of the common jewelry themes.


Long Liquid Eyeliner

There is something about black liquid liner that makes a girl feel like a badass. Eyeliner was a definite part of the overall chola look and remains a major look for cholas and Latinas everywhere. The longer the line, the more you mean business. With the skinny brows and dark lipstick, the entire look was fierce, glamorous, and reminiscent of Old Hollywood stars of the 1920s and ’30s.


Dark Lipstick

In the ’90s, the chola lipstick was dark – very dark. Eyeliner or eyebrow pencil was also used a lipliner; that’s how dark the lipstick went. Rich burgundies were all the rage; another trendy look was the dark brown lip liner with a shimmery light color, or nude, on the lip. Again, this instantly made you feel like a tough girl and added to the chola attitude.


Half Ponytails

This trend might have been the most painful. The half ponytail was major in the ’90s, and is seeing a renaissance today. The higher and tighter the ponytail, the better. It would pull your eyes tight and cause headaches, and I’ve seen receded hairlines that I swear were caused by this, but it was a supercool look. It was a waterfall of awesome that you could wear with or without bangs, tendrils, or with a topknot.


Old English Details


Old English is the official font of all things cholo. It’s bold, it’s pretty, it’s old school. It made everything you wore it on look more gangsta.


Acrylic Nails

The final piece of the chola beauty puzzle was the acrylic nails. These were square or square round usually, and the longer the better. Popular colors were burgundy, red, or a French manicure (especially a creative one). They instantly make you talk (more) with your hands, look beautiful, and add to the overall attitude. You were prepared to point something out or put someone in check if your acrylics were on point.

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beauty Chicano culture chola Mexican-American style trends
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