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I Love Concho Belts - Fun Fashion from Jeans to Skirts and Beyond

Updated on March 16, 2016

If you are looking to spice up your wardrobe options, add some great fashion accessories to spice up blue jeans, jean skirts, basic black turtle necks or basic black dresses, you must not overlook the power of the concho belt. The beauty of the concho belt is steeped deep in native American history and offers a variety of uses from causal to elegant.

We will explore in detail 12 different ways to wear the concho for all seasons. For you see while the concho was a product of southwestern United States, the concho works exceptionally well when layered. Remember, Ralph Lauren from long ago who taught us all how to layer our clothing. One of the great clothing statements he vitalized was the southwestern garments complete with colorful ruanas, turquoise and concho belts.

Fashion Designers Delight

The concho belt is the fashion designer's delight. Perhaps best known under the promotion of Ralph Lauren, the concho was also loved by other designers such as Brighton. Check out eBay and you will see designer after designer.

While the concho best is not for the faint of heart, the concho belt demands the right outfit along with the right personality. The concho belt most certainly set a definitive mode and cannot be worn with the majority of the clothing in my closet. However, when well planned, the concho is a stylist accessory that will not only set you apart but will also celebrate the native Americans who truly first founded our north American continent. From a casual white leather with silver concho paired with blue jean shorts to pairing the concho with an elegant black turtleneck complete with a ceremonial turquoise necklace, the options for having a concho belt work effectively in your wardrobe are almost endless. To get your imagination jump started and to you allow you pick out your favorite motif, we have several different examples conveniently separated from casual to elegant.

Mark my words, the concho belt never went of style, we simply have forgotten it. Take a journey with us, learn about the origins, the etymology of the word and its transitions over time, see the fashion statement this great accessory can make and in the end, share your thoughts about this forgotten piece of American history.

Concho Belts

Variety of Concho Belts

Concho belts range from silver to silver with brass to a myriad of turquoise stones. The craftmanship of the concho belt can range from mass production to museum quality. Sterling silver is often seen for vintage and antique pieces.

The shape of the concho can range from the classic oval to the more modern and distinctive square.

Concho Belts Galore and Turquoise Too!

multiple conchos draped over a mannequine with an American flag in the background
multiple conchos draped over a mannequine with an American flag in the background | Source
seven concho belts around model waist on black tshirt with turquoise necklace
seven concho belts around model waist on black tshirt with turquoise necklace

Definitions

Bridle: A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit.

Concho: a combining form meaning “shell; shell-like structure”

Lapidary: A lapidary (or lapidarist) is an artist or artisan who forms stone, mineral, gemstones into decorative items such as engraved gems, including cameos, or cabochons, and faceted designs, or who is an expert in precious stones; and can be a collector of or dealer in gems

Mexican people (Spanish: Pueblo mexicano (collective), Mexicanos (individuals)) refers to all persons from Mexico, a multi ethnic country in North America, and/or who identify with the Mexican cultural and/or national identity.

Navajo: noun 1.a Navajo is a "member of the principal tribe of the southern division of the Athabaskan stock of North American Indians, located in New Mexico and Arizona,and now constituting the largest tribal group in the U.S....

Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America

Ruana: anoun derived from the American Spanish word for woolen garment, now meaning: 1. A poncholike garment, open in front, often worn as a wrap or 2. A poncho.

Tack: Tack is a piece of equipment or accessory equipped on horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack. Equipping a horse is often referred to as tacking up.

Zuni people are a tribe of Pueblo Native Americans in the United States.

History and Etymology of Concho

Concho is derived from the Spanish word "concha" which means "conch" or "seashell". The word "concho" has transition to become to be known as an oval or round disk. Conchos are credited to the Navajo, the American native Indian, however, the roots are often also credited to the Mexican Indians and the adornments they made to their bridle or tack items - the harnesses for their horses.

Interestingly there is a term "Plains Indian" that extends choreographically from Canada all through the southern tip of North America.

It is stated that some of the greatest artisans and silversmiths are from the Navajo and Zuni tribes. The term lapidary refers to the skilled trade of applying the stones.

While typically oval in nature resembling the shell you will note over the years different artisans and lapidaries have taken liberties and crafted rectangle artistic versions as well. I am particularly fond the artistic rendition in a square design and feel that while is perhaps may not be historically correct, that form works exceptionally well belt design. Also, on rare occasion, you will see the classic silver paired with brass.

Conchos Have Always Been Unisex

From its very beginning, the concho has always been unisex. Perhaps this is the first "status symbol" ever developed on the North American continent. Second only to the large turquoise necklace now commonly referred to as the ceremonial necklace, the concho makes a statement about the wearer. Are you confident enough to wear such a statement piece?

Traditional Dress of Navajo Indian with Concho Belt

photo by Don Blair of an elderly man in traditional Navajo dress wearing a concho belt turquoise necklace and straw hat
photo by Don Blair of an elderly man in traditional Navajo dress wearing a concho belt turquoise necklace and straw hat | Source

Where the Navajo live in the Four Corners of the American Southwest

The Navajo live in the Four Corners area of the American southwest. This is the junction of northeast Arizona, southeast Utah, northwest New Mexico, and southwest Colorado.
The Navajo live in the Four Corners area of the American southwest. This is the junction of northeast Arizona, southeast Utah, northwest New Mexico, and southwest Colorado. | Source

Origins of the Concho Attributed to the Navajo

The origins of the concho are attributed to the Navajo Indians. This tribe extended from Arizona to Colorado and beyond. An exact map is provided for your review to the right.

As we mentioned earlier, while the concho is credited to the Navajo, its very first creation was for the horses in Mexico. The concho commonly adorned the harnesses of horses in Mexico. If you are an equestrian lover and can add to this story, please drop us a line.

The greatest compliment given is said to be the art of duplication. The concho belt has been forever immortalized with great Indian chiefs and most recently with modern day fashion designers and celebrities.

Celebrities Wearing a Concho Belt

split photo with concho belt on left and Elvis wearing a concho belt
split photo with concho belt on left and Elvis wearing a concho belt | Source
Johnny Cash holding a child with a concho belt wrapped over his shoulder
Johnny Cash holding a child with a concho belt wrapped over his shoulder | Source
Jim Morrison wearing the famous concho belt
Jim Morrison wearing the famous concho belt | Source

Famous Celebrities and Concho Belts

Designers love this unique fashion accessory. Yet, movie stars, actors and even rock stars have adorned the distinctive belt called the concho. From Johnny Cash to Elvis Presley to the famous Jim Morrion of the doors.

And while Ralph Lauren revived the popularity of southwestern dress and even adorned the concho belt himself, the heart throb hairdresser played by Warren Beatty also took to this unique American accessory. The line up of celebrities starts but does not end with:

  • Johnny Cash
  • Elvis Presley
  • Jim Morrison
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Warren Beatty

Baby boomers all fondly remember the Ralph Lauren push of the southwestern dress complete with the concho belt. But it was in the 1960s that a famous rock star named Jim Morrison of the doors wore this iconic belt. The belt and its rock star owner continue to live happily in our memories.

The story goes that "Jim Morrison purchased a 'concho belt' from Wayne and Irma Bailey of Albuquerque. Cippy's father, Joe H. Quintana, was the maker of this famous belt."

The belt has become known as the "Morrison Concho Belt" and remains collectible even to this day further supporting my theory this belt is timeless in design and remains a relevant fashion statement even today - for both men and women.

6 Casual Ways to Wear Concho Belts

concho belt
concho belt | Source
#4 brown leather square concho belt paired with brown shirt and blue jeans
#4 brown leather square concho belt paired with brown shirt and blue jeans | Source
#3 large concho belt with turquoise over a black shirt and blue jeans
#3 large concho belt with turquoise over a black shirt and blue jeans | Source
#2 hip hugger jeans and white tshirt with concho belt
#2 hip hugger jeans and white tshirt with concho belt | Source
#5 concho belt with short blue jean skirt
#5 concho belt with short blue jean skirt | Source
#6 white concho belt with faded blue jean shorts
#6 white concho belt with faded blue jean shorts | Source

12 Ways to Wear a Concho Belt

6 Ways to Wear the Concho Belt with an Eye to A Casual Fashion Style:

1. White t-shirt with hip hugging jeans

2. Black t-shirt with hip hugging jeans

3. Brown skin tight top with hip hugging jeans

4. Short blue jean skirt with concho belt

5. Long blue jean skirt with concho belt

6. Blue jean shorts with white concho belt


6 Ways to Wear the Concho Belt with an Eye to Elegance

7. With basic black turtle

8 With a southwestern jacket

9. With layers of turquoise necklaces

10. With sun dress and suede purse

11. With a cream jacket and a turquoise ceremonial necklace

12. With a simple black skirt

6 Elegant Ways to Wear a Concho Belt

#7 elegant Ralph Lauren concho belt with black turtleneck and turquoise necklace
#7 elegant Ralph Lauren concho belt with black turtleneck and turquoise necklace
#8 elegant concho best with navajo ruana and brown coat
#8 elegant concho best with navajo ruana and brown coat | Source
#9 concho belt with fashionable outfit
#9 concho belt with fashionable outfit
#10 concho belt with sun dress and suede purse with fringe
#10 concho belt with sun dress and suede purse with fringe | Source
#11 concho belt with fashionable outfit complete with turquoise necklace and tan jacket
#11 concho belt with fashionable outfit complete with turquoise necklace and tan jacket | Source
#12 concho belt with turquoise in the bear claw pattern nicely draped black
#12 concho belt with turquoise in the bear claw pattern nicely draped black

Share Your Thoughts

Do You Believe the Concho Belt is Timeless?

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Share Your Experiences

Would You Wear a Concho Belt?

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Concho Belt - A Style Is Waiting For You

Whether you are a man or a woman, celebrity, or even a rock star from the famous band the Doors, the concho belt offers a distinctive and fashionable accessory for your everyday wardrobe.

Concho belts are not just reserved for the casual every day dress. While we often think of the concho belt exclusively worn with blue jeans, this amazing accessory works exceptionally well on an elegant outfits suitable for any situation.

Concho Belt Celebrates Native American Art

Similar in fashion to the Kimono, the Celtic skirt, and the dutch clogs, the concho belt celebrates the culture of the Native American Indian.

The concho belt, however, I contend is timeless, unisex and offers universal appeal.

While blue jeans have penetrated every part of the globe, the concho belt has not received the recognition it deserves.

Whether paired with a swank black dress set for an evening event or a simple white t-shirt and blue jeans, the concho belt is sure to set you apart from the crowd.

I challenge you to include this iconic piece of Native American Art into your fashion wardrobe today.

Concho Belt Seen Mayo Clinic Rochester MN

photo taken at Mayo Clinic Gonda Building with woman wearing a fashionable black outfit with a silver concho belt
photo taken at Mayo Clinic Gonda Building with woman wearing a fashionable black outfit with a silver concho belt | Source

Concho Belt Alert - Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota

Great news! Concho belt fashionistas - the concho belt look is alive and well in the Midwestern part of the United States in November no less. For you see, great fashion is timeless and goes across all seasons.

What a terrific look for that timeframe between fall and the holidays. A classic black outfit with the silver concho belt taking center stage in her outfit.

For those who have visited Mayo Clinic, the Gonda Building is the hub of the Rochester, Minnesota facility with expansive windows and extensive use of marble through all of the floors.

The Mayo Clinic prides itself on combining art with medicine. What I have grown to appreciate is the the light combined with the stairway that serves to celebrate the ability to walk up and down the stairway. Too many facilities use the postage stamp method of moving people from place especially in medical buildings. The use of elevators of course is pervasive as it is in any medical facility but the stairway in the Gonda Building is a work of art in its own right.

Real Life Concho Belt Seen at Mayo Clinic Rochester MN

Share Your Experience

Have you seen a man or woman wearing a concho belt recently?

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© 2013 Kelly Kline Burnett

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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      I hadn't heard of a Concho belt and I found this very interesting .

      After seeing one I think I had something similar when small.

      Thank you for sharing .

      I vote up and share.

      Eddy.

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Eiddwen

      I believe as my husband reminded me they are out of fashion but they have such history with the Native American culture and they are so beautiful. Many of them are simply a piece of art.

      It takes a bold personality to wear these - the concho belt does set you apart and make you a rock star!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      The pictures of how to wear Concho belts almost convinced to to wear one. They are lovely.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 4 years ago from Guildford

      Well I think they are lovely. A great hub, thank you.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 4 years ago from London, UK

      Awesome Hub. So that' what they are called.... Concho belts.

      They are so fashionable and flattering to wear. I bought one years ago, but it kept on falling off anytime I moved. (it unhooked) lol.

      I enjoyed this Hub. Rated up.

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      tirelesstraveler,

      I have never been a Southwest girl until now. I like the vibrant designs. I feel it takes a strong personality to even consider this look. I am glad I convinced you. They can be classy and are always unique.

      Belts are big this year in fashion so the comeback of these I think has great timing. Add to that turquoise is big in the fashion world.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I'm with you I love concho belts but I wouldn't wear them around here people would look at me like I was crazy. I sure enjoyed your hub and voted up and shared.

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      moonlake,

      Concho belts are not for the faint of heart and are not always appreciated as perhaps they should be in the Midwest. I am going to give it a try - I will be bold.

      Just purchased a turquoise belt from eBay and am very excited for spring to arrive and to try on my new sandals and enjoy the sunshine.

      Thank you so much for stopping by.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      I love native American silver jewelry and turquoise. I especially concho belts and the ones depicted here are beautiful. The silver jewelry made out west is gorgeous. I love this hub and enjoyed reading this.

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      suzettenaples,

      I have never been a Concho belt or a silver style person, now as I am aging, I believe I have greater appreciation of different things. I have always been drawn to the water and yet the Southwest of the United States and the more arid cultures offer allot of ingenuity and craftsmanship which has taken me decades to appreciate.

      To further enjoy this new found artistry, I hope someday to dedicate a room to this beautiful Southwest style to match the new Southwest outfit I put together for spring and summer.

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I am always looking for Concho belts. I think they make the perfect accessory to any clothing especially dresses. Great hub.

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Angela Kane,

      They are such a distinctive accessory that it takes a big personality to wear. I find it fascinating the top designers and artists are often shown in concho belts but sadly we don't see concho belts very often in our day to day life. You are a true fashionista to look for these and I hope you wear them often and with great pride. The southwestern artistry and culture I believe is fully heralded in this one iconic fashion accessory. Thank you very much for the accolades.

    • profile image

      Belinda 2 years ago

      I love wearing Concho belts! There is a picture on Pinterest that brought me to this page. The picture has a ruffled shirt with a Concho belt however I do not see the ruffled shirt on this page. Can you tell me where to find the shirt? Thank you in advance. Belinda

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 2 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Hi Belinda,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. Great question. So sorry I am not able to locate the ruffled shirt. I would recommend checking out one of the large clothing websites.

      If any fashionistas are out there - please help us out. Perhaps this is a perfect case for a Twitter plea out on the world wide web?

    • profile image

      Hannah 20 months ago

      Do you still have the photo of the jeans, white ruffle blouse, & turquoise jewelry? Would you repost it...or send it to me? I had saved it a long time ago & lost it when my computer crashed:(

      Thank You!

    • GmaGoldie profile image
      Author

      Kelly Kline Burnett 17 months ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Hi Hannah,

      I know the exact photo you are talking about and I had to delete it because of the image quality. I am so sorry. Let me look back in history and try for you. Thank you for remembering so vividly.

    • profile image

      AudreyHowitt 11 months ago

      Love, love these belts--they are beautiful!

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