Indian Wells fashion: the fans

Part of the fun of attending a live sports event is observing the other fans. While tennis fans’ behavior is typically more controlled than you find at a football or hockey game, their fashion choices cover a wide range. I saw plenty of “RF” and “Vamos Rafa” T-shirts at the BNP Paribas Open, but in general, Indian Wells fashion options at their most interesting incorporate a sense for the hot climate and Southern California desert atmosphere. This post records my observations during the three days I spent at the tournament.

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Indian Wells fashion must: a hat

While baseball caps proliferate, other choices include flaps to protect the back of the neck, or broad brims that make it difficult for the person standing or sitting behind to see. But with sunny conditions and temperatures that climb into the 90’s, you need sunscreen and a good hat.


Not sure how the backwards visor helps with sun protection, but it’s her unique look

Indian Wells fashion: Colorful and Comfy

Fans come prepared for walking the grounds and sitting for long periods while they watch matches. The more experienced ones bring seat cushions, and many choose to be comfortable — whatever their notion of comfort might be. There were more than a few spectators dressed in neon colors, which are popular in casual clothing this year. Others (especially women) wore tennis apparel — maybe so they could look cute in a short skirt? Or perhaps tennis-playing gals just wanted to be ready in case one of the doubles matches needed a sub at the last minute, or Roger was looking for a different practice partner.


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His ‘n Hers in neon orange


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Prepared in case the matches go late


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Tennis, anyone?


Indian Wells fashion: Desert Cougar

This look is characterized by shorts or leggings, wardrobe fringe, Western hat and/or other cowboy-inspired elements, plus substantial cleavage. You’ll have to use your imagination, as I wasn’t bold enough to photograph any “desert cougars” from the front. In fact, I let the best examples leave our hotel right in front of me, without even snapping a picture of them from behind. They both were wearing short shorts, although they were beyond the age when many women would feel comfortable wearing such clothing in public. One had a cowboy-themed outfit, with a loosely-tied plaid shirt over a tight tank top, plus a cowboy hat and boots. The other sported wedge heels, with a figure-revealing tank covered by a swing top that looked as though it were made of macrame. Here’s a different example of the same type of look.

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Hat, fringe, leggings, leather bags. Oh yes, and super-blonde hair

Indian Wells fashion: Desert Chic

While different fans put their own interpretations on this style, in general it connotes a casual elegance in keeping with the hot weather. For example, some women wandered the tournament grounds in long sundresses with wedge sandals or fancy flipflops, imparting a classy flair that contrasted with the Nike running shorts worn by other fans. This look is characterized by tribal prints, often in bright colors. Diaphanous scarves can add a touch of glamor as well as practicality: when you need to shield the back of your neck from the sun, the scarf is there. Later you can wrap it around you as the sun goes down and the air grows chilly. Occasionally people seem confused about how to pull off the Desert Chic look, however: for them, “looking nice” is inconsistent with dressing for the heat.

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Note the multi-purpose scarf, colorful top, nice jewelry


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Did anyone see a Talbots around here somewhere?


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I want this dress!


The viewing area outside the stadium, which has several large screens and numerous Aidirondack chairs, is a great place to stay abreast of the matches while you people-watch. Indian Wells fashion offers variety and amusement for those of us who like to track the fans as well as the players. I might need to shop for a long sundress, though, before I go back to the tournament next year.

Image credits: Anne Rosales


  1. I enjoyed your article here and yes, you can see some interesting “outfits”! I can’t tell when this was written or which year you attended. I’ve been to IW 3 times, the last time was 2017 and it was a real scorch fest & I’m from Texas!! Anway, I’m trying yet again to figure out how to stay cool without frying my old freckled skin again. I think your scarf idea is grand & hats with a full brim…preferably fairly short for your seat neighbor are a must. But pants are hot & skirts get your legs sunburned. It’s a puzzle for me. Plus I run around like a teenager trying to find Rafa practicing. Maybe the answer is just to enjoy it and slather on the sunscreen. Thanks for your informative & entertaining post. Jan

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