Traditional Artists of the Yakima Valley

Rachel Ruelas & Quinceañera Dressmaking

Rachel Ruelas knows what makes a quinceañera unforgettable.

A quinceañera celebration occurs on a girl’s fifteenth birthday, but it’s not just marking another year: it’s also a rite of passage to becoming a young lady. There are gifts, food, music, and dance - and, of course, the dresses.

Ruelas has been planning quinceañeras since 1998, and continues to do so with her husband and sons at LA Styles in Toppenish, Washington. Their selection has varied over time, but Ruelas has paid particular attention to the evolution of the quintessential icon of quinceañeras: the dresses. From white symbols of purity to pastels to bright, vibrant colors, Ruelas discusses the aesthetic of a quinceañera within its larger traditional and historical contexts.

Listen to how ideas of tradition, costume, and ritual have changed through generations of young people, and how important these are to the process of growing up.