Selena's Leather Outfit

From doo-wop and country blues, to polka and hip-hop, Tejano music is made by borderland musicians forced to understand the value of cultural exchange. Performing a fusion of cumbia, pop, and contemporary Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (1971–1995) was a young star whose rise and hard-won fame in the United States and Latin American markets was cut short at age 23, when she was murdered by a business manager fired for stealing. Selena was a commercial success in ways unimaginable for her more rootsy predecessors like Flaco Jiménez, Freddy Fender, or Little Joe. This outfit, with its leather boots, tight pants, a satin bustier, and a motorcycle jacket, is an example of Selena's idiosyncratic style, wavering between sexy rebel and Mexican American good girl. Hailing from Lake Jackson, Texas, Selena was born into a family of musicians. Because she grew up speaking English, she had to learn to sing Spanish phonetically on her early albums that targeted the Spanish-speaking market. Ironically, her "cross-over" material for English-language radio was not released until the end of her career, shortly after her tragic death. Selena, who spent her childhood in her family's band entertaining crowds at weddings, restaurants, fairs, and other modest venues along the U.S.-Mexico border, remains enshrined in the memory of many as one of the greatest stars of Tejano music.
Currently not on view
Object Name
North Beach
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
metal (zippers; buckle; beads material)
overall: 25 in x 17 in; 63.5 cm x 43.2501 cm
overall: 26 1/2 in x 17 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in; 67.31 cm x 44.45 cm x 6.985 cm
Place Made
Zhonghua: Hong Kong
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Popular Entertainment
Mexican America
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Title (Spanish)
Traje de Cuero de Selena

Visitor Comments

7/18/2013 3:09:22 PM
Selena is a vital part of Chicano history/culture. She definitely deserved a place in the Museum. Thank you for displaying the item.
7/18/2013 3:09:56 PM
This is a beautiful and unique outfit. It's one of favorite Selena's designs. She made her style by wearing leather and sparkles on it. I can't wait to go to DC in a few days to see it. The statue in Corpus has this outfit. We "Tejanos" or "Texans" feel very proud to have been represented by such a wonderful person. Forever in our hearts!
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