Packing for Austin: What to Wear?

By Shelley Neuman, Guest Contributer

Shelley has been documenting trends in local fashion on her style blog, ATX Street Style, since Austin’s third annual Fashion Week. This year, the Circuit of the Americas has partnered with Austin Fashion Week to present “Shift in to Style” on August 10th.

Think of Texas. Do you see wide-open fields, cowboys riding horses and wrangling cattle, and country-folk talking in thick Southern accents?  If so, you’re not alone, but if Austin’s your destination, you might find the capital city of the Lone Star State to be a bit surprising. While the people who make Austin their home (called Austinites) certainly have Texan culture instilled in them, Austin is the cultural melting pot of Texas, and it’s a very modern city.  Austin attracts people from all over the United States, and the world, who come for its unique culture and dynamic attitude. The city has an especially strong draw for the creative and forward thinking, and has a highly diverse population. This large base of influences guarantees that the city has a style that reflects its unique population.


Welcome to Austin

Although Austin is the capital of Texas, it’s much smaller than some of the other famous Texas cities. However, it would be hard to find another city with a more passionate culture.  From the always-growing music scene to the rising tech-savvy population, Austin is an extremely smart, hip, and creative community with a laid-back vibe and a love for fun.  Every part of the city has its own sub-cultures that populate it, and no matter what part of Austin you’re in, you’re sure to find some homegrown excitement.


While most people in this city don’t typically walk around in cowboy hats and boots, you can still spot these items fairly commonly around town. Though Austin is no stranger to the true cowboy, cowboy garb is usually worn by those who actually ride the ranges, and is only attached to the city-living Austinite’s get-up as a statement piece or an accessory.

atxstyle street cowboy

That being said, for the cultured traveler, it’s best to avoid going for the stereotypical head-to-toe Texan outfit while here, as you’ll get more confused looks than you will knowing smiles by the worldly folk of Austin.


What to Wear

Much of Austin’s style must deal with the truly daunting Texas weather. While Austinites want to look good, and know just how to, they also have to make sure they can be comfortable in an outfit while traversing a town that’s either very hot or chillingly cold, and rarely in between. Just like the people in it, Austin’s weather can be wild and unpredictable, and change multiple times in the course of a single day. It’s best to be prepared for any weather situation that may arise, clothing-wise.  Bring versatile items, and stick to colors and patterns that can be mixed, matched and layered.

When styling their day-to-day outfits during hotter periods, most Austinites prefer the ‘less is more’ look.  They avoid long pants, sweaters, and jackets and instead stick with flowy skirts, shorts, light knit shirts or even sheer tops instead.


atxstyle flowy skirt

atxstyle plaid - austin fashion ideas for men

Don’t be afraid to wear bold patterns and colors or interestingly cut clothing. Austin is a place to experiment, so don’t be afraid to go a little outside the box with fashion choices.

One rather bold staple that’s been popular in the Austin warm weather is high-waisted cut-off shorts; particularly ones in unique colors or with interesting embellishments like spikes. Local collective Dog & Pony is well-known for their shorts in this style, and these can be found at a variety of local clothing stores including their own (open only on specific days) and Charm School Vintage.

atxstyle high waisted shorts atxstyle stripes yellow bag


When it gets colder outside, people tend to coordinate their warm weather favorites into their outfits by layering  pieces with tights, scarves, sweaters and jackets.

atxstyle layers scarves


Austinites also like to expand their wardrobe options with cool accessories.  Large, floppy hats and sunglasses are a must on sunny days.


atxstyle floppy hat


Austin is also home to many burgeoning jewelry designers who can help you adorn your body and give your outfits a finishing touch.  A few local jewelry designers to look out for are Kendra Scott, Margot Wolf and Ax + Apple‘s Jamie Lyn Dorfman, whose wares can be bought online and locally and have been building quite a following across the nation.


atxstyle margot wolf jewelry

Margot Wolf Jewelry.


atxstyle ax + apple jewelry

Ax + Apple Jewelry.


To succinctly phrase Austin’s style is difficult, but a few words that nearly do the job are Relaxed Edgy Couture.  When you’re out and about in Austin you’ll notice that it’s not like some larger cities, where fashion-forward people dress to the nines in famous designer brands.  Because of the uncontrollable weather and a comfortable attitude toward lesser-known designers, Austinites are more relaxed about their fashion choices and don’t feel pressured to exactingly follow the trends of other cities.  Instead, Austinites make themselves aware of fashion trends from around the world, and they mesh these with weather appropriate looks as well as local or less well-known brands in order to create a new and unique style.


Where to Shop

Austin is a wonderful shopping destination with shops at all levels of fashion, from the high-end boutiques to the bargain treasure stores. While Austin does have its fair share of corporate clothing companies that mass-produce trends, fashion-forward citizens have helped to “Keep Austin Weird” by opening boutiques of their very own that sell a huge variety of clothes. These local boutiques include shops like Parts & Labour and STAG, which carry items made in Austin by local designers as well as Austin themed gifts. Vintage clothes selling and shopping is something that has grown massively popular in Austin as well, and there are a plethora of vintage stores scattered about the town that help to sustain Austin’s fondness of reinventing past trends.

atxstyle vintage

These vintage stores and local boutiques sell wares true to Austin’s unique style and can be found in almost every part of Austin. Though it would be impossible to list every one, a few unmissable areas include South Congress, 2nd Street, South 1st Street and the North Loop Ibiz District of Austin.  From smaller brands, both local and national, to one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, you’ll find Austin’s boutiques to be endless sources of excellent finds. A short list of notable vintage stores worth checking out would have to include Feathers Vintage Boutique and Prototype Vintage on South Congress, Laced With Romance Vintage on South First, and Charm School Vintage located on East Cesar Chavez.

Austin’s presence in the fashion world is steadily growing, and exploring the city’s fashion scene is an immensely rewarding experience. If you happen to be in town, get lost looking through local boutiques, talk to local shop owners and really dive into what Austin has to offer. You’re in a town of creatives that are generally more than happy to sit and chat with you, and you never know what secret fashion treasures they might have access to.  It’s a city like none you’ve ever seen, and we’re ready to prove it.

For more ideas on what to wear during this November’s F1 race, check out’s monthly archives.

Follow Shelley on Twitter @ATXStreet_Style

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