How to Make Southwest Style Your Own


By its very definition, a fashion trend is a style that comes and goes. But Southwest style has stuck around for centuries, and it's revived and modernized each year.

Historically, Southwest style has expressed a culture of romance and independence. Southwestern pieces were originally made with materials like wool, beads, and leather because that's what was available. Today, while some materials have changed, the spirit of ingenuity remains. Pop culture events, such as the Coachella festival, keep southwestern fashion relevant and new, honoring a deep heritage while staying hot and in the moment. From fringe and Aztec prints to silver jewelry, there are tons of ways to make this style your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Channel Your Inner Animal

Animal prints and materials have been part of southwestern fashion for generations, and you can incorporate them into your look, too! Here's how:

  • Accessorize with leather. Think beyond the basic leather belt — experiment with faux leather bracelets and necklaces.
  • Swap more common animal prints for furry, wolf-inspired fleece and fuzzy linings.
  • Exercise your inner cowgirl. Lariat necklaces, inspired by the lasso, work well with almost all necklines.
  • Feeling flighty? Incorporate feathers into your earrings, headbands, and even in the prints you wear.
  • Check out tribal trends on Pinterest for more ideas.

Look for Earthy Materials

Earthy textiles give Southwest style its organic feel, so weave nature into your look.

  • Go for fabric patterns that feature grasses, leaves, and irregular stripes, imitating the colorful sedimentary rocks of the Southwest.
  • Try tapa cloth or bark cloth as a leather alternative. To see a sample, check out The Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Consider Colors

Southwest fashions are known for colliding neutrals and brights. Here's how you can make that work for your wardrobe.

  • Use turquoise, the southwestern staple, but don't stop there. Integrate indigo, azure, and cobalt against dusty neutrals.
  • When modernizing the Southwest style, focus more on the shapes than colors. Geometric shapes make the impact. Gravitate toward triangle- and diamond-structured patterns.

Incorporate Textures

Fashion from the Southwest is nothing if not touchable. Westernize your outfit by focusing on the tactile.

  • Factor in fringe. From pockets to handbags, and even on boots, fringe is featured heavily.
  • Bring in beadwork. Whether you do it yourself or buy the real deal, you're participating in a centuries-old practice, as described by the American Indian Heritage Foundation.
  • Incorporate texture into your footwear with a pair of ever-popular cowboy boots. There's a natural beauty in America's wild west, and no matter where you are geographically, you can make that style your own.

Photo courtesy of Payless.