Mexican-Style Dress, about 1960

Mexican-Style Dress, about 1960

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When the Cuellar family opened a new restaurant or organized a special event at one their El Chico restaurants, a female member of the extended family would wear a Mexican style dress and welcome guests as “Miss El Chico.”
This two-piece dress consists of a silk blouse and a long, sequined skirt which features the Aztec eagle and the red, white, and green colors of the Mexican national flag. The Aztec calendar, the national symbol of Mexican Pre Colombian past, is also represented in sequins. It was made by the Cuellar brothers’ Aunt Yolanda in Mexico City.
After migrating with her family from Mexico to Texas in the 1890s, Adelaida Cuellar began selling her handmade tamales at her county fair. In 1928, she opened a neighborhood restaurant, which her family expanded in the 1950s into the El Chico Tex-Mex restaurant chain. From the 1960s to the ‘80s, El Chico was also one of many companies marketing its own brands of canned and frozen foods to be distributed through grocery stores. By the 1990s, the Cuellars owned more than 100 El Chico restaurants.
The Cuellars were among the early entrepreneurs who helped transform Tex-Mex food into the most popular and widespread form of Mexican American cuisine. Hundreds of Tex-Mex-style restaurants opened across the United States, competing with other regional variations such as Cal-Mex, Sonoran Mex, and New Mex–Mex. Tex-Mex imitators thrived in small restaurants and fast-food chain outlets such as Taco Bell. Central American restaurants also added familiar Tex-Mex dishes and drinks to their menus.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric; embroidery floss (overall material)
overall: 27 in x 24 1/2 in; 68.58 cm x 62.23 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
gift of John A Cuellar
Food Culture
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ethnic
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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