While searching Instagram for styling ideas, I noticed that some of what passes for Southwestern style these days is – you know – a little over the top? (C’mon, you’ve seen it. Outfits with fringe and rhinestones and prints and Technicolor cowboy boots, and, and, and…) It’s fun for the rodeo and photo shoots, but doesn’t translate well to wearable looks.
Jewelers and Southwestern Style
In time, I found that some of my favorite looks weren’t coming from fashion bloggers at all. They were coming from jewelers. Jewelers from the Four-Corners States are rocking some SERIOUS Southwestern style!
That’s when the fox hunt began. I went through every Southwestern jeweler in my feed. Then I found more. While each jeweler had a unique style, the two things they shared were (1) a distinctly recognizable but totally unique Southwestern look, and (2) the use of clothing as a canvas for jewelry.
So why not showcase how they style their outfits around their jewelry?
Southwestern Style Profile: An Interview with Jewelry Artist Rosa Kilgore
Arizona-based jeweler Rosa Kilgore has a Southwestern rocker-artist vibe with some serious laid-back cool.
Rosa comes from a family of artists and collectors with a rich history in Arizona. Her mother is noted steel sculptor Linda Margaret Kilgore, and her stepfather is studio potter Nicholas Bernard. Rosa attended The Orme School and DePaul University, and then studied casting and fabrication techniques with a Navajo silversmith, Dorothy Jeffrey.
Rosa, how would you describe your version of Southwestern style? And how does your jewelry play into it?
Being from an old Arizona family, I grew up looking at women wearing big squash blossom necklaces and, of course, a lot of turquoise. My version of Southwest style is the freedom to wear what you want — boots, jeans, and linen are my favorites. My jewelry is simple, so it’s easy to wear with just about anything. I like to have an understated outfit so that the jewelry is the star of the show.
What are some of your can’t-live-without Southwestern apparel and jewelry pieces?
I live in blue jeans, and a lot of black. Boots are a staple for me – from harness boots, to cowboy boots, to a more urban-heeled boot. Right now my Flamenco Hoop Earrings are my go-to earrings – they just kick any outfit up a notch! I also wear what I call “my clump” which is a group of multiple necklaces that are all around the same length. I can just slip them on over my head and walk out the door. I’m all about ease!
Do you have any personal styling tricks?
It all comes down to accessories. You can get away with so much with clothes. I’m almost exclusively a thrift shopper because I enjoy the hunt. But the accessories are really what make or break an outfit. If you’ve got on great jewelry, a good pair of boots and a great bag, you’re there!
What’s in your fantasy Southwestern wardrobe?
I’ve been hunting for just the right bag for years. I don’t love carrying a purse, but often need to carry things with me. The closest I’ve found to my perfect bag is by Chad Isham. I love that it’s handmade in Texas, and the little sheep fluff on the handle for comfort is inspired. But I’m petite and it’s pretty large. I’m dreaming of a smaller version!
Another fantasy find would be the perfect vintage leather jacket! Something close to a classic black leather biker jacket, but it has to fit me perfectly and be really comfortable. Deadwood probably has the closest to what I want. But, again, I usually thrift shop and like to try clothes on first.
What sorts of colors and textiles do you feel work best with Southwest style?
Texture is one of my favorites, so lots of texture, always. Rugged indigo fabrics, linen, leather… I prefer natural, neutral colors – black, brown, and white. And of course, blue denim. I like to keep things simple and layer different textures in the same color. That way, the jewelry is the star of the show.
Southwestern style is typically considered casual. What are your styling tricks to dress it up for business or evening?
Jewelry can really take a casual outfit and bring it up. If you’re wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, then a pair of statement earrings and a simple black blazer will dress you up in an instant. Likewise, jewelry with stones can often look dressier than jewelry without stones. I like to play with my style and mix and match more expensive pieces with vintage finds to create a high-low aesthetic. And then my hair is kind of the wild card for me with any outfit.
What do you want others to know about your style and jewelry?
My style, my jewelry, and my lifestyle are all interwoven. I never want to wear the same thing as everyone else. (It’s one of my nightmares!) So I find thrifted clothes and wear accessories – usually my own – that are authentically “me” and compliment my style.
Your jewelry is just so lovely and distinctive. With a richly-textured blend of sterling silver, ancient bronze and semi-precious stones, you create a rugged elegance that feels uniquely Southwestern. Yet you don’t rely heavily on the design elements typically associated with Southwestern jewelry.
Thank you! As a full-time jewelry artist, I strive to create modern pieces that will last in women’s collections season after season. I believe anyone can achieve a totally cool, personal style that is unique. Having go-to pieces of jewelry is an easy way to achieve an individualized look!
Where to Find Rosa Kilgore Jewelry
You can shop Rosa Kilgore jewelry at rosakilgore.com and follow her social media at @heyrosakilgore on FB, IG, and Pinterest.