13 Rules for 90s Chicana Style

Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter ran an interview with Brooklyn-based Chicana artist Guadalupe Rosales this morning and it left us jonesing for some 90s LA chicana style inspiration.

Rosales runs an Instagram account called @veteranas_and_rucas where she posts viewer-submitted photos of some of the coolest babes from LA in the 90s (and some from the 80s and late 70s). As she explained to Lenny, the women featured on this account are mostly girls she grew up with whose lives were ancillary to gang culture, but not necessarily dominated by it.

“Living in L.A., gang and party cultures are interwoven,” she said. “The gang culture has been going on for many years, since the Pachuco movement in the ’30s and ’40s, and the rave scene and party crews [started] in the late ’80s and ’90s. They were an alternative to gangs. So it was for people who said, ‘I’m not a gangster, but I’m surrounded by it.’”

These party crews spawned the incredible chicana style that we’ll get to in a minute. First, here’s a vocab lesson from Rosales courtesy of Lenny in case you’re not familiar with the terms “veterana,” “ruca,” and “chicana”:

“Veterana” is a woman who has experience in gang life and is now older. She has “put in work.” She’s someone who’s lived it and has stories to tell. “Ruca” is a slang word for girlfriend, like a boy will call his girlfriend “ruca.” … Chicano is someone who is first or second generation; for example, my parents were born in Mexico and migrated to the U.S., and I was born in California. So I’m Mexican American/Chicano.

Okay, got it? Now let’s get to the style lessons we can all learn from this particular genre of cool 90s girl. For more on Rosales and @veteranas_and_rucas, click here or here and check Guadalupe Rosales’s Tumblr.

1. Tease your hair.

There’s no such thing as too high.

Sadgirl n Smiley #Pomona 1990 @lisaby06 🎭

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

2. Never be afraid to show some midriff.

Specifically, Rosales loves “crop top and overalls and some Nikes,” she told Lenny.

~East LA #Qteez~ #LAPARTYCREWS

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

3. Get your pants from the men’s section.

Bagginess is next to godliness.

#StreetBeatmag #90s #SouthCali #LosAngeles 1994 @daddysgirl_619 🔥booyah👊

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

4. Have a massive crew.

Make sure they all have style as dope as yours, then take as many group photos as possible.

ELA and WLA “Bad Examples” 1997/96 (and Happy from the Gigaloes in the back) #LAPartycrews

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

5. Seriously, go tease your hair!

What are you waiting for?

~What’s up Pasadena~ 💋 Christina and Amber circa 1991 #Pasadena #Califas

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

6. Remember those tweezers you put away last year? Haul ’em back out again.

 90s LA girls knew skinny eyebrows were the way to go.

East LA 1999 📞 (Mi Hermana)

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

7. Dark lipstick is so necessary.

Any time of the year/day/your life.

At Venice Beach . #Hollywood #SouthCentral and #SantaMonica girls. Thank you @Lyzzystarr.

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

8. Put your hair half-up and half-down with some tendrils sneaking out in the front.

This is a supremely flattering style perfect for showing off your cheekbones.

Mr Casper and la giggles 1996 #ElMonte #SouthernCalifas @tattedupcasper

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

9. Refer to your clique as a “party crew.”

Otherwise people won’t know what you’re all about.

Here’s a lil piece of history #LAPARTYCREWS #FunHouse #ClubCarnival #babydoes #PurpleShield #90s #SweetSundays #GroovySundays #FryForFive

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

10. Sports bras count as outerwear.

Especially in that hot LA heat.

And the homegirl @iam_dorysdee back in 1992 💋#LosAngeles #California

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

11. Get creative with your favorite logos.

Don’t just restrict them to your clothes. That would be boring.

#ThisIsLosAngeles #WakeAndBake #CityOfAngels

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

12. Own “going-out tops” in silhouettes like halter, bandeau, bandana and more.

And make sure to semi-match your friends.

The babes from #SwingKidsCrew #LApartyCrews #90s #LAPartyScene #SGV

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

13. Never get caught without a pocket mirror.

Checking your reflection in an iPhone is for basics.

#EVERGREENGANG #BoyleHeights #90s

A photo posted by Chicana Cali Life Foto Archive (@veteranas_and_rucas) on

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