The quinceanera is not your average 15th birthday party. These elaborate events celebrate a young woman’s coming of age, marking her transition from a child to a woman. In the Hispanic culture, the quinceanera is celebrated as one of the most significant days in a young woman’s life. As such, attire for the event — both for the young woman being celebrated, her attendants and her guests — should be both celebratory and formal.
Traditional Quinceanara Dress
The quinceanera rivals a wedding in terms of its formality and celebration. As a result, some parallels between these two significant occasions exist.
Traditionally, the young woman celebrating her quinceanera wore a white ballgown, similar to a wedding dress. While the formality of the occasion has not changed, today’s 15-year-olds now choose ballgowns in many colors.
During the Changing of the Shoes tradition during the quinceanera, the young woman’s father replaces her flat shoes with high heels.
Fabulous at 15
The young woman celebrating her quinceanera is undoubtedly the focal point of the event, and her attire reflects the formality of the occasion. In addition to white, the ballgown may also be a soft pastel, such as pink, or a bold hue such as red or royal blue.
The gowns feature full skirts made of layers of silk, satin and tulle, often with a petticoat or crinoline for added fullness. Accessories include a crown or tiara, as well as white gloves.
Dress for Guests
Quinceanera guests typically wear formal attire. Outfits that are suitable for a wedding also work well at this occasion.
Men should wear dark suits paired with button-down white shirts, conservative ties and leather shoes. Women can wear floor-length evening gowns or cocktail dresses. A pair of pumps or high-heeled sandals completes the quinceanera guest’s look.
Much like a bride chooses dresses for her bridesmaids at a wedding, the 15-year-old young woman selects attire for her court, which consists of 14 young women and 14 young men.
Damas, the young women on the court, wear floor-length evening gowns that coordinate with or complement the guest of honor’s ballgown.
Chambelanes, the young men on the court, wear tuxedos. These tuxedos also coordinate with both the damas and the birthday girl’s gowns — the bow ties and cummerbunds match the women’s dress color.
References and ResourcesQuince Anos: The Transition to Womanhood in Puerto Rican Culture
Bradley Baptist Association: Quinceanera 101
New York Institute of Art and Design: Weddings - Quinceanera
Emily Post: Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Casual to White Tie