The quinceañera gown is just as important as the wedding gown is. Just like the custom started by the Duchess of Alba in Spain, this will be the first adult dress for the young woman.
Traditionally, quinceañeras wear elegant ball gowns, often with layers of tulle netting to achieve a princess look, or some opt for a gown of taffeta or silk. White and light pink are both traditional colors for quinceañera dresses, but the girl may instead opt for another color -- but colors usually stay within the pastel family. Author Olda Nájera-Ramírez points out that pink and other pastels are common in Mexico, Central America, Puerto Rico and Cuba. But in certain parts of Mexico and the United States, white is considered more traditional [source: Nájera-Ramírez]. In fact, in communities that prefer white as a symbol of virginity, a girl’s family might be scandalized by any other choice.
Similarly, many families value modesty in the design of the dress, especially for the Mass part of the festivities. As a compromise, some quinceañeras wear shawls or jackets over spaghetti straps or sleeveless dresses during the Mass, and remove them afterwards.