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For six years, I’ve driven through Little Village, “La Villita,” on the west side of Chicago on my way to work each day. Like its better-known neighbor, Pilsen, Little Village is home to a predominantly Latino population. The main thoroughfare, 26th Street, is lined with shops, and my favorites are the dozens of places filled with quinceañera dresses. These confections are worn at the lavish parties that mark a girl’s entry to young womanhood at the age of fifteen (that’s quince for you non-Spanish speakers), and they have brightened many a gray morning on my drive to work.

Like spun sugar, these treats are true eye candy, little fluffs of color that sweeten a stretch of street unfortunately known as much for its gangs and drug trade as these innocent frocks. The flounce of chiffon and the sequined tops, all in rainbow sherbet colors, are like little bonbons in glass boxes along the pavement. Best of all? No calories in these treats!

Special thanks to Andrea’s in Little Village, where they allowed me to take photos even though every shop has huge signs saying “No Fotos!” See other bloggers’ edible and non-edible treats here.

More Info: For anyone who wants to read more about the whole tradition, here’s an informative article about the tradition in general and how Little Village is becoming a hot spot for these dresses. I had no idea! I just knew I was seeing a whole lot of them every day, but had no clue people were driving for miles to come here. You can see how much they cost ($500 to well over $2000!) and how big a deal the parties are for Mexican (and a few other) families.