What Is Southwest and Aztec Style?

The American southwest has long served as a source of inspiration. There are vibrant art communities, historic small towns, stunning national parks, historic roads, breathtaking scenery, and everything in between. It’s no wonder that creative communities have gravitated toward this part of the country throughout the years, particularly when it comes to fashion designers. Iconic houses, runways, and buzz-worthy newcomers all sent models dressed in southwestern fashion.

Navajo designs bold colors, shearling jackets with loads of fringe, and western boots; Southwestern clothes are a stylish approach to look casually chic. There are many styles one can wear ranging from military style to Bohemian style and much much more.  But what exactly is this fashion style?

Southwestern and Aztec Style

The look combines cowboy boots, bolero hats, bolo ties, concho belts, turquoise and silver jewelry, Western shirts, suede moccasins, Navajo prints, and fringe and leather everything (Spanish colonizers arrived in the American Southwest in the 1500s, and white farmers and ranchers arrived three centuries later). The border between elegant and costumed, cool and goofy, is razor-thin.

How to Wear Southwestern Clothing

a smiling woman wearing Southwestern clothing and a fringe scarf with a llama with a colorful costume

But how can you wear this bright, eye-catching fashion without seeming like you’ve just walked out of the Wild West? Here are some fashion tips to aid you in achieving a contemporary, non-costumey southwest look without the need for a horse!

Put on Your Western Boots

Putting on a pair of cowgirl boots is the simplest good way to begin with Southwestern-style clothes. Low-heeled ankle booties with almond-shaped toes work with everything. Wear them instead of ballet flats for a more daring look. They look great in jeans.

You can also wear tall western boots. Find a high-quality pair in leather or suede with fringe, a buckle, shearing, or another western-inspired accent.

Wear a Sante Fe Style Wrap

Blanket coats, ponchos, and wraps are popular in the south by southwest trend, influenced by Native American tribes such as the Hopi, Navajo, and Apache. The most appealing items are rough woven fabrics with elaborate and rich designs. The colors are desert-inspired – earthy and tawny with vibrant splashes of color.

Upgrading to a Cowgirl Chic Look

Why not elevate Southwest style for a more fashionable look? Pair a new white button-down with a western-inspired embroidered skirt. It’s a little “European missionary meets natives,” and it’s the perfect approach to seem trendy in this traditional outfit.

All you should do is pick a plain white shirt with no frills or embellishments. Pair it with a straight skirt that features western-style embroidery or beading for a high-fashion look on a budget. Simple shoes and stud earrings complete your ensemble in a smart, subtle approach.

This trend variation is appropriate for dinner, the office, or any other occasion when you need to look a little more put-together!

Fringe Is Fantastic


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Upgrade from your standard tee. Choose a fringe shirt or sweater to add a southwest vibe to a casual ensemble. Wear your fringe shirt with tan pants or basic jeans for a weekend look that will take you anywhere.

Rock Tribal Colors

It’s tempting to match bright and vibrant southwestern pieces with all navy or all black, but instead, match them with warm, dusty neutrals to complete your style. Consider a blanket poncho in soothing taupe, beige, or stone tones.

Cognac, olive, and warm brown colors look great with southwestern decor. In your outfit, mimic the colors of a southwestern environment to tap into the aesthetic subtly and make your ensemble look more authentic.

Avoid Rustic Head to Toe

There’s charming, and then there’s costume-y. Not wearing this rustic style from head to toe can help you avoid the latter. Limit yourself to one, two, or three western influences in your ensemble. Oversized belts, feather jewelry, or turquoise-colored jewelry can also make your ensemble appear dated, especially if worn altogether.

Instead, highlight one local statement piece and develop your design around it. Wear minimal jewelry, such as stud earrings, a modest watch, and perhaps a colorful silver bangle. If you don’t have western boots, go for beautiful booties, pumps, or flats to finish your appearance discreetly.

Use a Southwest-inspired Bag

Do you want to know what bag goes with your clothing to have an innovative Southwestern style? A slouchy purse complements the laid-back mood of anything western. Worn leather or suede offers the desired rustic vibe, and the fringe on your bag is classic cowgirl.

Southwestern Style in Interior Design

the leather shoes of a person standing on a patterned rug

Southwestern style has grown in popularity in the home design and decor market, thanks to its rustic touches and earthy color palettes. Southwestern design has a lot more diversified and longer history than you might expect, drawing influence from Indigenous culture, history, and textile art, the rustic charm of the “wild” American West, and Spanish settlers’ building practices.

Southwestern Style Elements

When designing your home, you should always utilize your personal touch and add accessories, furniture, and decor appropriate for your family’s lifestyle. If you want to master the rustic, earthy aesthetic, there are a few important characteristics of Southwestern style:

Simple, White Walls

Stick to white walls to emulate a genuine Spanish Colonial home. Any earthy-colored accessories, bright weavings, or wood pieces in your home will be highlighted by a basic backdrop. Furthermore, white walls can brighten up a dark room.

Earthy Color Schemes

Brown, terracotta, and turquoise are prevalent colors in Southwestern decor, and for a good reason: they imitate the surrounding desert landscape and pay homage to the elements Indigenous settlers and tribes had at their disposal. Feel free to add more vibrant accents to an earthier color palette, such as woven textiles (pillows, rugs, blankets) and copper or brass mirrors or planters.

Layered Textures

Layering multiple textures can add volume and depth to your decor. Combine a colorful woven rug with sheep fur or cowhide pillows, leather upholstered furniture, and a solid wood side table or coffee table.

Wooden Furniture


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Wooden accessories and furniture, once practical, may now give your home a truly rustic vibe. In Southwestern homes, you’ll typically notice wooden ceiling beams—because adobe homes aren’t traditionally completed with trim; thus, the beams sustain the ceilings and walls— and hefty chairs, wooden tables, and dressers. Don’t be hesitant to blend wood finishes, either—it will simply give another level of dimension to your area.

Natural Accents

Add natural elements to your area if a longhorn skull isn’t your style (though we have to agree that they look wonderful above a bed, fireplace, or desk). Cacti are extremely low-maintenance, although geodes may bring whimsy and a splash of color to a room.

Hammered Metals

Hammered metal embellishments and light fixtures, another industrial object turned home adornment, are common in Southwestern homes. Experiment with other finishes such as copper, aged bronze, or brass for more texture and color.

Don’t be scared to explore with Southwestern decor. You can find woven baskets, jute rugs, and accent pieces at your favorite home goods store. If you use woven blankets and textiles, strive to support Navajo and other Indigenous vendors and artists.