Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a holiday often celebrated in the United States. While many incorrectly assume that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, it is actually an annual celebration commemorating the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).
Cinco de Mayo is one of the best days of the year to play with color and wear a look that’s a little outside of your comfort zone. Even if you don’t normally go for bright colors, Cinco de Mayo is your chance to dress up in something fun and festive.
If you’re not sure how to incorporate color into your look, don’t worry! In honor of the holiday, we’ve rounded up our favorite colorful looks from some of our favorite style stars. If you want to go big—or just add a few detailed accessories—keep reading for some major outfit inspiration.
A red-hued lip can be just as festive as a colorful top.
Red works wonders on both nails and lips, especially if you want to make a statement with your makeup. The bold color runs the gamut in the beauty world—there are cool reds like oxblood, warm reds like fire-engine red, and pinkish options like cherry blossom. And even if you don’t want to go full throttle with a lip or nail color, there are plenty of ways to incorporate bright red into your look through accessories.
If you’re going for a bright outfit (like the one above), try doing a toned-down eye look that keeps all of the attention on your lips and nails. For example, consider painting your eyes dark brown or black and then using an eyeliner brush to trace around them with a metallic eyeshadow that matches whatever shade you’re feeling in terms of jewelry—gold will tie in any gold jewelry you may be wearing; silver will do the same for silver pieces. This adds some dimension without distracting from your makeup centerpiece: your lipstick!
A pretty patterned skirt is all you need for a night out.
You may not know this, but you’re already on your way to becoming a fashion expert. You’re just one step away from all the good stuff! And that step involves getting familiar with a few key terms. These are fundamental building blocks of the style world (and will be your secret weapon for navigating its dizzyingly vast offerings) Don’t worry—it’s less intimidating than it sounds! Fashion vocabulary is actually pretty easy to pick up, if you have the right approach.
Wear colors in the same family to keep your look cohesive.
One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to create a cohesive look is by choosing colors that are related on the color wheel. For example, if you choose a bright coral blouse, you can pull your look together by pairing it with accessories in orange or yellow—colors that are next to coral on the wheel.
To see some examples of great color combinations, check out this article about creating cohesive looks. Pairing colors that are next to each other on the wheel is just one way you can use color to keep an outfit from feeling too chaotic or mismatched. You can also choose accessories in different shades of your main color (for example, light blue pumps with a navy dress), or in analogous colors (colors near each other on the wheel). There’s no right way make sure your clothes don’t clash—it’s just important that they don’t end up looking like they came from two completely different outfits!
You can never go wrong with a bright floral pattern on a flowy dress.
For the ultimate timeless look, choose a bright floral pattern on a flowy dress. Floral prints are always a good choice, especially in the spring and summer. When paired with other bold patterns, they can be a fun way to add some flair to your outfit. Conversely, when paired with pastel colors or solids, they can be great for creating a more laid-back ensemble. Flowy dresses are also always a good option for an easygoing but still-stylish look.
Just because it’s festive doesn’t mean it has to be cheesy.
Stop wearing sombreros and ponchos. Think about it: would you dress up in a Native American headdress or wear blackface to celebrate an American holiday? We think not. Indigenous peoples of America have been subjected to stereotypes for far too long, and the same is true for Mexican culture. A Cinco de Mayo celebration does not mean you should dress like Dora the Explorer or Speedy Gonzales. Doing so belittles rich traditions that deserve our respect and appreciation, not mockery.
Instead, take time to learn about how to effectively —and respectfully—celebrate Cinco de Mayo by avoiding these common mistakes.
Put a fresh spin on head-to-toe color by pairing a bold hue with neutrals like black and white.
Putting together a full-on red, orange, or yellow outfit can be intimidating. The easiest way to wear a bold hue from head-to-toe is by pairing it with neutrals, like black and white. The classic colors help balance out the brights and also tone them down a bit so you don’t look like a walking schoolbus (unless that’s what you’re going for).
While we’re typically all about mixing prints, ombré is just as good when worn all at once.
While we’re typically all about mixing prints, ombré is just as good when worn all at once. The subtle gradation from light to dark makes a statement without being overwhelming and allows you to play with multiple colors while still keeping it cohesive.
If you’re feeling extra bold, pair two bright solids or patterns together—why not? It is Cinco de Mayo after all. You can always ground the look with some neutral block heels or clutch so your look isn’t too busy.
Forgo the typical Mexican-inspired look in favor of playful pieces like this striped cami.
There’s no need to drape yourself in a serape or sport a sombrero if you don’t want to, but it is nice to be festive! This striped cami by [brand] offers a simple way to add some extra flair. Stripes are always in style, so even when Cinco de Mayo has come and gone, this cute top will keep on getting love all year long.
A versatile piece like this can be worn with so many different outfits. You could pair it with a cardigan and jeans at home, or dress it up for work with a blazer and skirt.
If you’re going to wear bright colors, wear bright colors!
When attempting to pull off a more vibrant look, the key is to wear bright colors with confidence. Don’t be afraid of incorporating more than one hue into your ensemble and let your personality shine through!
In the end, what you choose to wear on Cinco de Mayo is a personal choice! If you like bright colors and festive patterns, wear them. If you prefer a more subdued look, that’s OK too. As long as you’re keeping it fun and relaxed for this celebration of Mexican culture, there are no hard rules to follow—and certainly no right or wrong answers when it comes to your own style decisions.