Fall & Winter

Non-Costumey Ways to Wear Southwestern Style Clothing

Bold Navajo prints, lots of fringe, shearling jackets, and western boots.  Southwestern-style clothing is a cool way to look casually chic. But how do you wear this colorful, bold trend without looking like you just stepped out of the wild west? Here are 7 style tips to help you create a modern, non-costumey southwest look, no horse required!

Savvy Southern Style Blake Lively


1.  Slip into Western Boots

The simplest way to get your feet wet with Southwestern-style clothing is to pull on a pair of cowgirl-style boots.  Low-heeled ankle-height booties with almond-shaped toes go anywhere. Wear them in place of ballet flats for a more unexpected look. They’re natural with jeans.

Tall western boots work too. Find a luxe pair in suede or leather with fringe, shearing, buckle, or some other kind of western-inspired detail.

2.  Throw on a Sante Fe Style Wrap

Ponchos, blanket coats, and wraps are a big part of the south by southwest trend, which is inspired by Native American Navajo, Apache, Hopi, and many more. The most charming pieces are made from rough woven fabrics with rich and intricate patterns, like this beautiful tribal sweater coat. The colors are desert-like – tawny and earthy with pops of bold.  These clothes look handcrafted. Other popular Southwestern-style outwear? … A shearling coat fits the mood too.

3.  Uplevel to a Cowgirl Chic Look

Why uplevel Southwest style for a fashion-forward look? Try a crisp white button-down, paired with a western-style embroidered skirt. It’s a bit “European missionary meets the locals”- and the perfect way look modern in this traditional look.

All you do is choose a simple white shirt free of frills or fuss. Pair it with a straight skirt with western-style beading or embroidery to get a high fashion look on a budget. Simple pumps and stud earrings round out your look in a chic, understated way. This version of the trend works for the office, dinner, or anytime you need to be a bit more put-together!

4.  Fringe is Fabulous

Get an upgrade from your basic tee. Choose a fringe sweater or top to give a touch of the southwest feels to a casual look. Wear your fringe tee with simple jeans or tan pants for a weekend-ready outfit that can take you anywhere.

5.  Rock those Tribal Colors

It’s tempting to pair bright and colorful southwestern pieces with all black or all navy, but instead pair them with warm, dusty neutrals to round out your look. Try a blanket poncho in soft beige, taupe, and stone shades.  Olive, cognac, and warm brown hues look fabulous with southwestern pieces. Mimic the colors of a southwestern landscape in your outfit to tap into the look in a super-subtle way and make your ensemble look more authentic.

6.  Avoid Rustic Head to Toe 

There’s cute, and there’s costume-like. To avoid the latter, don’t wear this rustic look head to toe. Limit yourself  1,2, or maybe three western elements in your outfit. Feather jewelry, oversized belts, or turquoise- can also make your outfit appear dated especially if you try to wear them all together. Instead, feature one native statement piece and build around it. Or,  wear minimal jewelry like a simple watch, stud earrings, and maybe a fun bangle Silver. If your ensemble doesn’t include western boots, go for elegant pumps, booties, or flats to quietly finish your look.

7.  Carry a Southwest Inspired Bag

Wondering what bag to pair with your outfit to have savvy Southwestern style?  A slouchy purse fits the casual vibe of anything western. Suede or worn leather has the rustic vibe you are after, and fringe on your bag classically cowgirl.

Southwestern Clothing - Navajo Coat for Women

Here are a couple of my favorite bloggers rockin’ the Southwest look. Ana from Mrs. American Made looks darling in this cute Navajo coat. Southwestern women’s clothing is heavy and perfect for chilly fall days. Ana’s topper is an artsy change from a three-season windbreaker.

southwestern women's clothing

Jamie from More than Turquoise  is a big Southwestern fashion clothing fan, too. Look at those deep, rich tones and that unique turquoise bag and all that drama!

Do you like Southwestern-style clothing? Or, maybe you prefer a more refined western look?

Join the Conversation

12 thoughts on “Non-Costumey Ways to Wear Southwestern Style Clothing

  1. Wonderful to see this look again. I collected silver Navajo jewelry years ago as a college student (I am 60 now) and love to pull these pieces out again. I agree that the western look is best in small doses, or with just a few accessories or one key piece. Along these lines, I have a question: Can you show us how women over 50 can wear cowboy boots without looking silly? I love them, but want to be careful that I don’t appear to be trying too hard. Have you covered this topic earlier? Cowboy boots?

  2. No, I will not wear the trend. Where I live in Northern Minnesota one might wear a nordic print but not the Southwest gear.

  3. Hi,

    Maybe I am just to old (60plus) but I would rather wrap myself in a sheet than wear on of those blanket looking jackets. Not loving the fringe either.

    Cowboy boots, on the other hand, fabulous!

    1. Hi Claire, That’s perfectly all right. I think it is important to stress that fashion is not a one trend fits all thing. If this is not for you, good for you for knowing it. What you wear should be a true expression of who you are.
      Cheers, Deborah

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