The word “bohemian” literally means travellers and was originally associated with gypsies.
In the 16th century the Bohemian culture movement was formed and Bohemians became those who lived alternative lifestyles and existed on the fringes of society. In the 1960s, bohemian lifestyles and fashion shot to mainstream fame largely due to the hippie movement. Hippies and bohemians are the same when it comes to both their style of dress and way of living. The laidback ease and free spirited essence of bohemian fashion was seen as a rejection of the overtly feminine and sexualized women’s wear. Thus, boho style was in vogue in the 60s, and quickly felt like home to the burgeoning bra-burning feminist movement.
For many the resurgence of the bohemian look heralds a welcome departure from the conformity, speed and structure of many trends and lifestyles. A liberating fashion tree-change if you will that with its inherent irreverence and its self-embracing free spirit allows the wearer to just ‘be’. Just like the trend’s origin, its popularity is less about the clothes and more about the spirit you embody when wearing them. That is precisely what makes bohemian fashion so enticing for women all over the world.
Here’s what you need to embrace a Boho chic look
Hair and Makeup
A hippie girl has that au naturel look down pat. Keep your makeup look as natural as possible. All you need for this look is minimum coverage, a touch of blush on your cheeks and lips, and a swipe of mascara; you’re all set. As for a true boho hair look, you’ve got two options. You can either go with tousled waves or a poker straight look. But when it comes to the boho look, braids and flowers are always winners.
Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4
These 5 items are what you should keep at the top of your shopping list for that quintessential hippie chic vibe. Mix and match them with classic pieces in your closet to avoid looking like a bad retro flashback.
- Platform Shoes
- Bell Bottoms / Wide Leg Pants
- Aviator/Round Sunnies
- Peasant Tops
- Floppy and Rimmed hats
Other classic Boho items to include on your list: flowing maxi skirts and dresses, patchwork denim, suede mini skirts, fur collars and coats, crochet tops, and jumpsuits.
Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5
Source: Image 1,Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6
Prints are a great way to integrate some boho hippie charm into your look. Paisley, tie-dye, and floral prints are popular patterns for this trend.
Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5.
Women who defined the look
Who better to look to for inspiration than these style icons that made bohemian style what it is today, take a cue from these amazing women and you’ll be on the right track. Whether you fancy a girly type of boho a la Ali McGraw (scarf headbands and flowing dresses), rock n’ roll influenced boho a la Stevie Nicks (bell sleeves and long dresses), out-of-this-world prints like Janis Joplin, or effortlessly chic peasant tops and denim like Jane Birkin; you’ll get endless inspiration from this range of historic bohemian and hippie looks.
- Ali McGraw
- Stevie Nicks
- Janis Joplin
- Jane Birkin
Movies that define the look
Sometimes you need moving images to kick-start you sartorial creativity, these movies ought to give you enough material to work with for your next show stopping boho look. Take your pick from the ultimate hippie chic costume of the ensemble cast of Hair, or from Almost Famous’ Penny Lane’s platform knee-high boots, fur, and embroidered tops, or from the youthful characters on Dazed and Confused.
- Dazed and Confused
- Almost Famous
Modern Style Icons
Now that you know the key pieces for the hippie look, and have seen the classic style icons and movies that embody it, it’s time to make the boho trend your own. Let’s look to our modern boho-loving celeb style icons for styling tips and tricks in updating the bohemian style and making it work for you.
For modern boho inspiration, look no further than Vanessa Hudgens. This petite style star knows how to make the boho look work for her. Given her petite frame, she chooses lower hemlines and balances the voluminous sleeves at the top with sleek booties. Also take note of the trendy mirrored sunnies that give a contemporary flair to this hippie chic ensemble. Always mix the old and the new, and never forget to take your body type into account.
A bold paisley print coat with a Stevie Nicks inspired wide brim hat makes for a strong boho style statement. Balance that with understated leather accessories for an edgier take on the bohemian trend.
One of the original boho style mavens in Hollywood, take a cue from Nicole Richie’s leather wide leg pants and seek out unique materials done in classic boho silhouettes.
The Olsen Twins
A style lesson to learn from the Olsens is this: if you love it, wear it and own it. Despite frequent criticism, the Olsen Twins continue to rock boho frocks that ooze vintage glamour and individual style.
How do I do Boho at 60+ without looking like mutton dressed as lamb ~ or similar forgotten to change my style since I was 20?
It’s all about ease of wear and adding an ethnic flavor to your look. You don’t have to go head to toe – just an amount that feels right to you.
Here’s a great feature from a friend of mine – Deborah Boland of fabulous after 50: https://www.fabulousafter40.com/how-to-dress-boho-but-not-look-too-hippie/
Great links, Ann. I was about to ask the same question as Eadie.
Thanks for the great boho designs! On my website is an article about vintage Boho and Mod costume jewelry. I like to wear
authentic vintage boho jewelry with my sienna fringed outfits!
Enchantment Vintage Costume Jewelry