The American Southwest is one of my favorite places in the world. The unique art, food, landscape and culture reflect the beautiful landscapes of the mountains and deserts. Santa Fe is at the center of it all. With its incredible art museums, myriad galleries, and restaurants that satisfy the pickiest of tastebuds, Santa Fe is one of my favorite places to explore.
Don’t Forget The Cowgirl Boots (And Birkenstocks!)
My last visit to Santa Fe was in late July. The packing list below includes a lot of pieces I packed and loved wearing like the Everlane Daytripper dress, my Birkenstock sandals, and the linen version of this royal blue Madewell suit (also in a chino fabric for fall). I’ve revised the list for fall weather, which is a gorgeous time of year to visit the area. I hope you are inspired by the Southwestern aesthetic and have the chance to visit this beautiful place.
The beautiful, open, bright blue skies of New Mexico are a big part of its charm, and this bright blue blazer from Madewell made from sustainable chino material strikes just the right balance between dressy and casual. I would wear the blazer with flare jeans, cargo pants, or matching trousers. It will be well suited to cover chilly shoulders in the evening or to spice up more neutral pieces.
2. A Fringe Bag
Tea and crumpets are to England as suede and fringe are to the American West. This fringe crossbody bag makes me think not just of stagecoach robbers and cattle rustlers, but also of the rock ‘n’ roll artists and hippies that took so much inspiration from the American desert landscapes and incorporated its beauty into their art. The slouchy, suede style adds something special to the neutral pieces that are the foundation of this capsule wardrobe.
Turquoise jewelry is a tradition cultivated by the Navajo and Zuni peoples as well as other Pueblos in the Southwest. If you have the chance to visit New Mexico yourself, I would highly recommend shopping directly from Native artisans. Artisans gather in Governors Plaza in Santa Fe, and there are also local galleries and museums that sell the work of local and Native artisans to purchase from. If you don’t have a planned trip, this ring by Christina Greene is stunning.
I spotted this trenchcoat on the Madewell website and was immediately enchanted. The coat could be styled in a ‘70s inspired/Ali McGraw way, but it also fits right into denim-heavy Western-inspired styles. Denim on denim is such a big trend right now — I love the idea of wearing this coat over these flare jeans and topping off the outfit with a cool cowgirl hat.
Maybe it’s that bright desert sunlight that makes me want to reach for these pink-hued aviators, or perhaps it’s the famous rosy sunsets of New Mexico that make me want to incorporate a dusty pink hue in my capsule wardrobe. Either way, these sunglasses are a twist on a classic and will help you keep your eyes on the prize (finding an ice-cold horchata, naturally).
These beautiful drop earrings by Kendra Scott capture a little piece of the beautiful New Mexican sky. These will dangle perfectly to frame your face from underneath your cool cowgirl hat.
Confession: I bought a pair of sandals clearly designed to mimic Birkenstocks around the same time I purchased these actual Birks with the intention of keeping the other sandals and returning the higher-priced Birks. That is not how that experiment worked out, friends. I truly love the Birks. I wear them all the time. The oversized yellow gold buckle and the antiqued dark brown leather are timeless, and the Birk footbed has molded to my feet quickly, making these excellent sandals for trotting around town looking for the next great breakfast burrito.
Say that five times fast, right??! I love these cargo pants both because of the classic style and color, but also because these are part of Abercrombie & Fitch’s Curve line, meaning that the style is meant to fit pear-shaped beauties that have more than a four-inch difference in the measurement of their waist and hips.
A white shirt is a capsule wardrobe must-have. Whether linen, poplin, or gauze, a simple white shirt ties everything together. I love the combination of bright blue with cloud-white items because they echo the gorgeous New Mexican sky that Georgia O’Keefe so cleverly captured in her paintings, many of which were done just outside of Santa Fe in Abiuqiu, New Mexico. If you have the time, I highly recommend touring her home and studio.
11. The Cowgirl Boot
I love my cowgirl boots, especially with my Everlane Daytripper dress. The height of the boot shaft is up to you — booties, midcalf boots, and knee-high need all apply. Personally, I like to wear my midcalf boots with both jeans and dresses. The stitching on the boots adds a special touch, and I love the neutral color of this beautiful pair.
Over the past year, as I’ve updated my denim wardrobe beyond skinny styles, I’ve found that I really like the look of flare or bootcut jeans on my pear-shaped figure. These Good American flare jeans are such high quality. I love the wide hem at the bottom of the legs and the large back pockets. As usual, Good American delivers denim in an inclusive size range and accommodates curves.
I packed this Everlane dress the last time I went to Santa Fe in July, and it was such a fantastic central piece for a weekend capsule wardrobe. The shirtdress style is just so easy to dress up or down, and the oversized-men’s-shirt-as-dress thing is kind of sexy in a not-too-revealing way. During the day, I wore this dress with Birkenstocks and my hat, and at night, with heeled sandals and a funky bandana.
14. A Handsome Hat
Even if you’re not a hat person, trust me, you should consider one. The sun in New Mexico is fierce, and you’ll want a hat with a brim for the shade it gives you while you stroll between museums and art galleries. This is the hat I pack when I visit New Mexico, and I’m really pleased with the quality and classic style.
One of my favorite activities in New Mexico is enjoying its many natural hot springs. In Santa Fe, you can check out the Japanese-style soaking tubs at Ten Thousand Waves or head toward Taos to enjoy the many pools at Ojo Caliente (my personal favorite). To enjoy the pools, you’ll want a swimsuit that inspires, and this cool reversible Reese one-piece is a fun one to check out.
OK, look, I know that technically this scent was inspired by the Mojave Desert, which is not in New Mexico. However, this Byredo perfume is a masterpiece. It features top notes of sapodilla (a fruit that smells something like pumpkin and brown sugar) and ambrette, as well as base notes of cedar, vetiver, and musk. I’m also a huge fan of Albequerque-based small business Dryland Wilds, which upcycles plants for their scents and body care line. Their piñon perfume oil is such a unique vanillic woodsy scent that reminds me of hiking around New Mexico.
I have long admired how Laura has integrated vests into her wardrobe, and thus, I’ve been on the hunt for one that suits me. I love the casual look of this denim vest, and the black wash kicks up the cool another notch. The vest works beautifully with cargo pants, flares, or blue trousers.
I have been really into buying suits and then using them in capsule wardrobes to make my mini collections sing. It’s just so handy to be able to wear the matching pieces together, but then re-purpose both the pants and jacket with other items for maximum versatility. The paper bag style of these trousers is great for pear-shaped babes because it draws in at the waist and offers more room in the seat.
These simple, neutral sandals are my most-worn shoe of the summer. The heel is just high enough without being too high, and the color just goes with every outfit. I’ve walked pretty long distances in these sandals, and I think they are very comfortable.
New Mexico has some of the best dark sky areas in the United States. If you’re lucky enough to visit New Mexico on a night when moonlight is minimal, head out to a dark sky park. Bring your binoculars or telescope and unfurl this Pendleton outdoor blanket to see the best show in the universe.
I hope you all have the chance to travel to the Southwest, whether to Santa Fe or Sedona. If you have the good fortune of booking a trip to Santa Fe, check out the breakfast burritos at The Pantry (Cerrillos Road location), the iced horchata lattes at Iconik Coffee, brunch at Dolina Bakery & Cafe and don’t miss a visit to the trippy immersive art house Meow Wolf Santa Fe. Do you like the styles inspired by the Southwest? Which one would you wear most often? I’d love to know — leave a comment down below.