Boho chic by its very name describes a style that is elegant and sophisticated, but also wearable and practical. These days the term ‘bohemian’ is really popular, and there are lots of places selling clothes which seem to fit into this trend in a general kind of way, but be wary – as true boho chic describes a look which is not always easy to put together from mall outlets. In general it is easier to find what you want online, from specialist fashion sites like Top Tier Style, than in traditional stores,. Remember though, boho chic is a term that describes an overall look – the end result of your efforts to source and style a selection of items which, when put together, create the wonderful whole. So perhaps it’s worth a reminder of exactly what boho chic looks like.
Defining the phrase ‘boho chic’
Original bohemians sometimes looked plain messy; sometimes simply because their wardrobe contained a lot of old, used clothes, but more often probably because they simply didn’t care if they looked a little disheveled and untidy. After all, the way they dressed reflected their carefree lifestyle. But not all of the original bohemian set were dirt poor; some even had allowances to fund their ‘starving artist’ lifestyles, which was more about taking what would be like a modern day gap year in Paris than making a statement!
It was around 2005 when the phrase boho chic was first coined, referencing cool young actors like Sienna Miller whose character in the movie Alfie favored, and looked fabulous in, Bohemian style outfits. Boho chic is not about throwing on any old thing to end up with endless layers of random, crumpled clothing; instead it takes the essence of the very best vintage pieces – reworked a little if necessary – and blends them effortlessly with modern items to create a wearable, great looking ensemble.
Here are a few of the things which capture the very essence of what bohemian fashion is about:
- Wearing contrasting items e.g. cowboy boots with a long, loose, cotton maxi dress
- Ruffles, flounces, lace, patchwork, crochet or embroidery often feature
- Blending the feminine and masculine e.g. leather with chiffon, denim with velvet
- Adding serious accessories, such as a large number of bangles, layered necklaces, head wear of some kind and oversized sunglasses
- Mixing the seasons, putting say a baggy sweater with a summer skirt
- Clothes are often loose fitting but not boring, but the sexiness is less obvious e.g. a lace dress may be short or body skimming, but not hugging. A demure, floor length dress may have no back.
- Comfort wins every time, so ditch the high heels if you feel like it
Key pieces to buy to kickstart your boho chic capsule wardrobe
- A maxi skirt
- A maxi dress – flowered or in some other print
- Sloppy sweater or other piece of knitwear
- Ankle boots, fringing optional
- Gladiator sandals
- Headwrap or headbands
- A purse to show off with, tassels etc are a bonus
- A large hat
- A waistcoat – fur or embroidered
- A gypsy blouse or an ethnic print tunic
Places to buy boho chic clothes
Putting together a look which is truly boho chic takes time, as it isn’t always easy to find items that both fit into the category and you feel are perfect for you. Remember that any old tat may be labeled boho simply because it squeezes into the general category, but not all flowered printed dressed or paisley printed tops are truly boho in design. So where are the best places to look when you are after a spot of boho retail therapy?
- Department stores can be goldmines if you have a favorite designer of modern boho inspired fashion in mind. Otherwise you could be severely disappointed at the lack of choice.
- Boutiques are another possibility, although as with department stores you r choice is likely to be limited by the space allocated to each department. Large stores and chain boutiques are probably fine for picking up the seasonal boho pieces than anything else.
- Small specialist clothes shops and boutiques offer the best chance of finding some original, or at least less mass-produced pieces. They are pretty tricky to find, though some primarily gothic or hippie fashion shops will have at last some stock. Expect to pay higher prices in places like this.
- Charity or goodwill outlets. If you have time to devote to a thorough search, a little imagination, and maybe some sewing skills if you get lucky and fond a true vintage item, these can be goldmines for sourcing decent boho chic pieces for a fraction of the original price.
- Online. Shopping on the web is fast, convenient and can mean more choice if looking for say plus size boho clothes. The down side is that many sites you find via search engines only feature a handful of items, pretty much on a par with department and small retail stores. It’s much better to go straight to the online shopping sites which feature a lot of boho chic style items, and enjoy choosing between lots of different items.
Remember that true boho chic means blending items from several sources, so once you’ve created a capsule of amazing items which you love the supporting item can be bought from regular stores.
Boho chic is a great look but it does take some thought. Don’t be afraid to pick and choose to develop a look which reflects your tastes and personality, within the framework of the style. From gentle and romantic to gothic, sporty or earth mother there’s plenty of scope to choose relevant clothes and accessories online to cultivate your own original style.