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

I love wearing concho belts; they are a great way to spice up a normal look.

Love concho belts? Here is fun fashion involving them.

Love concho belts? Here is fun fashion involving them.

Time to Spice up Your Wardrobe

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 casual 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 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 sets a definitive mode and cannot be worn with the majority of the clothing in my closet. However, when well planned, the concho is a stylish 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 to 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

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.

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

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: a noun derived from the American Spanish word for woolen garment, now meaning: 1. A poncho-like garment, open in front, often worn as a wrap or 2. A poncho.
  • Tack: 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 transitioned 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, the 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 of 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 occasions, 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?

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

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.

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.

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 Morrison of the doors.

And while Ralph Lauren revived the popularity of southwestern dress and even adorned the concho belt himself, the heartthrob 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 that this belt is timeless in design and remains a relevant fashion statement even today for both men and women.

Great Sources for Concho Belts

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

  1. With basic black turtle
  2. With a southwestern jacket
  3. With layers of turquoise necklaces
  4. With a sundress and suede purse
  5. With a cream jacket and a turquoise ceremonial necklace
  6. With a simple black skirt

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 everyday dress. While we often think of the concho belt exclusively worn with blue jeans, this amazing accessory works exceptionally well on 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.