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The Timeless Aesthetic of O’Keeffe’s Wardrobe

1. Georgia O'Keeffe Photograph by Yousuf Karsh Courtesy of Met MuseumPhotograph by Yousuf Karsh | Courtesy of The Met Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most iconic women of the Southwest. Uniquely independent and modern, she spent her life as an artist living and painting among the beautiful landscapes of Santa Fe and mainly Abiquiu, New Mexico. Travelers visiting Santa Fe know that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio Tour at Ghost Ranch are among the top places to visit in Northern New Mexico.

.-Casey-Casey-Waxed-Cotton-Oversize-Blob-Coat-in-BlackOkeeffe-in-KimonoLareida-Cotton-Parisienne-Band-Collar-Tunic-in-Sand-Stone

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Top Center: Photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe in Kimono. Bottom Center: Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz |
Courtesy of The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bottom Right: Georgia’s High Collar Tunic | Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

What is becoming more evident is O’Keeffe’s impeccable taste in women’s fashion and clothing. Her historical portraits taken by Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams captured the minimal and well-crafted style of Georgia that has spawned a legacy in the Southwest of black bolero hats, dark or off-white head scarves, belted dresses, elegant flats, wool coats and high collared blouses. Though as featured in the 2016 Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, we can now understand her unique style as something more genuine, and capable of being integrated with contemporary clothing aesthetics.

Demin-Button-Downs-_-Photograph-by-Jonathan-Dorado-_-Courtesy-the-Brooklyn-MuseumGeorgia’s Denim Button Downs | Photograph by Jonathan Dorado | Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

O’Keeffe’s one-of-a-kind style in women’s clothing reflects the taste of an independent and artful woman. Her clothing is said to be mostly handmade by the artist herself. Her sartorial inclination towards natural textiles is evident in many of the pieces made of luxury materials such as leather, linen, organic cotton, silk and wool; a high collar silk blouse or tunic is quintessentially Georgia. She veered away from jewelry or any kind of adornment on her textiles — a likely rejection of the classic Victorian styles that were commonplace in her historical moment. The lack of ornamentation in her wardrobe draws upon the current trends towards utilitarian khaki, Japanese simplicity and rustic minimal fashion.

Uma-Wang-Virgin-Wool-Lightweight-Keira-Jacket-in-Black_TanOkeeffe's Tailored-SuitKaval-Tumbled-Fine-Twill-Cashmere-A-Line-Overcoat-in-Charcoal

Center: Georgia’s Tailored Suit | Photograph by Gavin Ashworth | Courtesy of The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

O’Keeffe understood the importance of caring for luxury materials, and cherishing her wardrobe. Her specialty clothes were tailored to fit trends in women’s clothing over time: a long, high-waisted skirt, or dress cinched with a belt would be taken in with a hem as fashion evolved. She also had a taste for designer pieces, such as the Marimekko dress and pair of J & J Slater Shoes that are on display in situ for visitors to examine at her home in Abiquiu. Wrap dresses and tailored suits are staples of women’s fashion today that O’Keeffe embraced during her lifetime in the 20th century. Denim jeans and button down plaid shirts — styles currently well- loved — were also native to her closet. Georgia O’Keeffe may have been an initiator in the East-meets-West stylistic theme of Santa Fe, as she owned a few kimonos purchased while traveling in Japan.

Okeeffe Marimekko-DressGeorgia's-Kimono

Left: Marimekko Dress | Courtesy of The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Right: Georgia’s Kimono | Photograph by Gavin Ashworth | Courtesy of The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Aside from her iconic paintings of desert landscapes and oversized flowers, Georgia O’Keeffe is known for the importance taken towards crafting her persona through a finely tailored selection of quality women’s clothing. O’Keeffe’s style is so well-documented and strikingly unique that it can be restructured in fascinating new ways, while still alluding to the artist’s timeless wardrobe aesthetic. In 2015 at her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico, photographer Will Davidson shot a glamorous rendition of O’Keeffe’s style for Vogue Magazine Australia, articulated through high-end designer dresses, bolo ties, scarves, jackets, boots, hats and blouses, all in the independent style of Georgia. The intimate relationship with textiles and fabrics, and how these items are presented on the body is something independent women from all over the globe can identify with when encountering the iconic, Southwestern fashion of Georgia O’Keeffe.

okeeffePhotograph-by-Dan-Budnik-_-Courtesy-Gerald-Peters-GalleryPhotograph by Dan Budnik | Courtesy of Gerald Peters Gallery