Southwestern fashion returns every few years with the regularity, though not precisely the frequency, of the full-moon cycle. Composed of Native American, Spanish, and “Anglo” inspirations, the style combines cowboy boots, bolo ties, bolero hats, concho belts, Western shirts, silver and turquoise jewelry, Navajo designs, suede moccasins, fringe, and leather everything. The border between cool and corny, and between elegant and costumed, is slippery.
What is the Southwest fashion?
Southwest is a category of men’s and women’s apparel whose distinctive style is derived from attire worn in the 19th-century American Wild West. It spans from precise historical reproductions of American frontier attire to the stylized outfits popularized by Western movies and television or singing cowboys in the 1940s, such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It remains a popular fashion choice in the West and Southwestern United States, as well as among fans of country music or Western lifestyles, such as the numerous Western or Regional Mexican music styles. Typical Western attire includes one or more of the following: Western shirts with pearl snap fasteners and vaquero design elements, blue jeans, a cowboy hat, a leather belt, and cowboy boots.
Southwestern fashion is typically a style that has existed for as long as humans have desired comfort. It’s all about warm colors and basic, yet colorfully elegant, designs. This style incorporates classic dress silhouettes, zig-zag patterns, and printed feathers, among other features, and it’s all kinds of amazing!
Cole specifies, with regard to patterns, that “exchange between civilizations from east to west and the colonized to the colonizers has been occurring for ages.” In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while the reservation system was being constructed, Navajo blankets were manufactured expressly for the tourist market, according to the author. “ The Navajo people take their pattern, which in this case is a locomotive train, from the white people who invaded their territory. A Navajo blanket contains a railway train as a motif. There is movement in both directions.”
Inspiration Found in the American Southwest
Fashion has always relied on the American southwest and all of its cultural pillars, such as the idealized cowboys and indigenous peoples. In recent times, the region has received much more interest than usual, and not just from the fashion industry but from the lifestyle sector as a whole. Beauty companies and influencers have drawn aesthetic inspiration from and made pilgrimages to areas outside of America’s coastal towns, which are frequently excluded from cultural discourse.
Santa Fe is only one of several popular destinations in the American Southwest. It is where the mother of American modernism, Georgia O’Keeffe, spent decades of her life and ultimately passed away. O’Keeffe was well-known for her juxtapositions of New York City and New Mexico, but she also contributed to the present sartorial lexicon.
Her clothing, the majority of which she sewed herself and which reflected her own humility, was recently showcased at the Brooklyn Museum. According to The New Yorker, Calvin Klein utilized Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico as the focus of commercials, similar to how Vogue would use a Charlize Theron fashion piece. Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Creative Director of Christian Dior, cited O’Keefe as inspiration for her inaugural collection for the French fashion label.
The distinctive appearance of the southwest is a product of the region’s indigenous and bordering communities. Professor of Graduate Costume Studies at NYU Steinhardt Daniel James Cole explains that many traditions span borders. “As you travel south into Mexico, you’ll see an increasing number of styles that are very similar to one another until you reach the Serape style and the post-colonial region of Mexico that has spilled into the southwestern portion of the United States.”
Southwest fashion today
European designers such as Céline, Gucci, Chloé, and Louis Vuitton have recreated Southwestern style in its current form, as opposed to the usual American suspects like as Ralph Lauren. Tod’s showcased cowhide designs, clay-colored apparel, and white leather moccasin footwear on their spring catwalk. Regional components were gilded with Euro beauty at Versace: gold belt buckles, gold-trimmed leather, and a black Western-style jumpsuit with gold filigree. Cowgirl meets Aspen divorcee was the whole atmosphere.
Bright tiles, fringe, and Pendleton blankets are ideal for the Instagram era. In a time of technological excess and environmental unpredictability, designers may also be drawn to the natural and primitive. Moreover, Europe has long been intrigued by the American West’s legend. Lastly, if there is a look that reflects an idealized American past while still paying homage to our original outsiders and dissidents, it is this one.
It is important to note that, when considering American Southwest fashion influences, the appropriation of indigenous cultures in textiles, designs, and accessories is sometimes disregarded. Certainly, designers who rely on Native American culture would benefit from understanding the intricacies of the indigenous peoples beyond the Navajo print.
I believe that Southwest-inspired style can signify so many different things nowadays, and there are so many elements that conjure a distinctly Southwestern atmosphere. It’s not traditional, and it’s a little tough to define precisely, but the Southwest’s rich and colorful history and range of cultures, its various traditions, and its larger-than-life landscapes and fauna all play a role in defining its characteristics.
Bright, vivid colors, beaded details, cactus prints, geometric patterns, turquoise, textiles that are either light and breathable or robust and textured and covered in stunning patterns, fringe, natural fibers, and so much more characterize this trend.
Another simple method to achieve a southwestern appearance is to pair a floral dress with vampy cowgirl accessories. Herein lies my point. Start with a flowery dress – short or maxi – with a conventional floral print that is small to medium in size. Dark floral prints are quite fashionable at the moment and are a fantastic place to start, as a black background automatically makes a floral print appear more urban.
Pair your floral dress with seductive cowboy boots (a pointed toe is usually hotter than a round toe) and a simple tooled leather purse. That is sufficient to achieve a western atmosphere. Now giddy up and go get’em, cowgirl!