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Cholos are a subculture originating from the Chicano youth (Mexican-American diaspora) in California. It evolved from and was heavily influenced by the Pachuco culture of the 1930s to 1950s. Female Cholos are referred to as Cholas, and old Cholos are referred to as Veteranos/as.


  • Oversized flannel shirts
  • Baggy jeans or Dickies pants
  • White tank tops or band t-shirts
  • Gold chains or thick silver jewelry
  • High-top sneakers or Nike Cortez shoes
  • Bandanas or beanies worn on head
  • Tattoos on arms or neck
  • Sunglasses with colored lenses
  • Lowrider cars or motorcycles
  • Graphic hoodies or bomber jackets
  • Thin mustaches or shaven heads
  • Rolled up cuffs on pants
  • Inked eyebrows or sharp haircut lines

Background and Orgins[]

Much of the roots and background of the Cholo culture came from the Pachuco culture. The Pachuco culture was created during the mid to late 30s and quickly became popular with Chicano youth throughout California and Texas. It was often used to symbolize rebellion, anti-assimilation, and rejection of Anglo-American culture.

During the 1960s, the Cholo culture started to emerge. It originated from the historical barrios of East Los Angeles and quickly became popular with the Latino youth of the area, and eventually started spreading throughout California. The style also became popular with Mexican-American youth in other parts of the U.S, most notably Southern and Southwestern Texas and Chicago. However, the culture started to become heavily associated with criminal activity since then due to it becoming heavily popular with Latino gangmembers throughout the Southwest. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, "cholo" was very commonly used to refer to gangmembers of Mexican and Central American background overall (and still heavily is to this day).

Since then, the Cholo style is heavily used as a way to assert pride of cultural background among urban Chicano youth and is still shown as being a symbol of anti-assimilation. However, it is mainly worn by gangmembers and has been since the late 70s. The style also spreaded to border regions of Mexico, most notably in Baja California and Sonora. In addition, the Cholo culture heavily influenced the West Coast Hip Hop culture of the late 1980s to mid 1990s and the Black gang culture of California overall, most notably with the fashion aspects.


As mentioned earlier, the Cholo culture owes a lot of its roots the Pachuco culture. The most popular form of fashion among the Pachuco community were zoot suits (which were popular with Black, Italian, Filipino, and Japanese-Americans as well). These suits would consist of high-waisted creased baggy pants, a outer layer coat (usually with large shoulder pads underneath), dress shoes, a fedora or Panama hat, a long tie, and pocket chain. The pachuco fashion would eventually heavily influence the fashion of the cholo style.

Basic info[]

A typical Cholo outfit usually contains sneakers, knee socks, creased loose-fitted khakis or jeans, oversized t-shirts, and flannels. Khaki work shirts, polos, hoodies, and sweatpants are commonly worn by Cholos as well. In addition, Vegas Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago White Sox merchandise is popular with the community.


Nike Cortez, Chuck Taylors, Air Jordans, and Air Force 1s are the most common footwear among Cholos. Adidas Superstars, Vans, Puma Suedes, white Fila or Reebok sneakers, and black slippers are popular as well. Though Oxford and Derby/Brogue shoes used to be worn often up until the early 1990s.

Hair and headwear[]

Traditionally, combed-back hair was popular with the Pachuco and Cholo culture. However, buzzcuts and shaved heads became common during the mid 1980s. Pony tails are often sported as well. Bandanas or hair nets are worn to keep hair in place. Beanies and Baseball caps are the most often-used headwear. Fedora and Panama hats used to be common back then, though they are nowadays worn by Veteranos.


R&B music from the 1960s and 70s has traditionally been popular with Cholos. 70s/80s Funk music is popular as well. Norteño, Ranchera, and Cumbia is commonly listened to as well. In addition, West Coast gangster rap by artist such as Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Eazy-E is widespread with the Cholo community.