Think Siena Miller, think Nicole Richie, think Kate Moss and think boho-chic style. This most versatile of trends, with its roots firmly in the free bohemian lifestyle, is one the most enduringly popular looks, and it’s easy to see why. With an almost unlimited number of ways to stamp your own character on the style, the bohemian chic look suits almost everyone.
But don’t be fooled. Although the bohemian look appears to be very free and easy, don’t assume that learning how to dress like a hippie is all it takes. It’s actually very easy to get the bohemian style wrong, so what are the main features of the boho-chic-style and how can you make it work for you?
What Is Bohemian Style ?
In essence, the bohemian style or boho style harks back to the late 60s and early 70s, embodying the freedom and unstructured ethos of the hippie lifestyle. This hippie trend also emphasised an environmentally friendly connectedness to the earth, so natural fabrics such as cheesecloth and cottons, together with free floaty fabrics and designs, reflected those ideals.
Where Are The Roots Of The Bohemian Style?
The whole thrust of the hippie movement was about breaking free from the confines of the social structures of the 50s and early 60s, with their stereotyped roles and rigid expectations. Hippies idealised a free lifestyle, opened themselves up to new experiences, and refused to be pigeon-holed into someone else’s idea of what was acceptable. The bohemian style was about embodying the principles of these ideas, such as free-flowing fabrics and designs, rather than a slavish adoption of a single design feature.
Where Did The Contemporary Boho Chic Style Originate?
It’s universally agreed that Siena Miller’s boho chic outfit at Glastonbury 2004 marked the start of the contemporary boho-chic trend, although some observers note that elements of the boho look could be seen in late 2003. Since then bohemian outfits have remained popular, although each season has brought its own unique twist to the overall feel.
What Are The Signature Elements Of Bohemian And Boho Chic Outfits?
The bohemian outfits and style, are grounded in the idea that you have the freedom to layer and combine different items of clothing to reflect your unique character. Although the emphasis is firmly on the wide use of free-flowing designs with light floaty fabrics, this is not to the exclusion of all else. In fact, when it comes to boho outfits adding something fitted (such as a stretch vest top or leggings), merely serves to emphasis the looser cut of other items. And of course, oversized clothing is a must.
The base layer often features a spaghetti top, vest top or little stretch tee. A bra top is also a popular choice, especially when teamed with a mini-skirt or tight shorts, with an oversized jacket or cardigan to top it off.
Baggy cardigans, sloppy-joe T-shirts or sweaters, and loose linen jackets, are all commonly seen, but cropped versions of the jacket and cardigan may well overlay a longer tunic or shirt to emphasise the layered look.
Which Fabrics Are Best For Boho Clothing?
In keeping with the natural earth-loving ethos, natural materials are the fabric of choice for the boho chic trend. Light cottons, cool linens and natural hemp are all good alternatives, as well as fabrics which emphasise the floaty ethereal look, including chiffon, lace, and silk. The semi-natural appearance of faux fur adds even more to the atmosphere, and of course, leather and suede are fabulous options for coats and jackets, shoes and boots, and accessories such as belts and bags. Which Colours Embody The Boho Chic Look?
Again, the emphasis on a natural look also has its impact on the main colour palette for most bohemian and boho chic outfits. Autumnal earth tones such as deep browns, rich tan and charcoal black are all present, with cool neutrals like delicate beige and taupe, chalky white and soft cream making an appearance too.
But that doesn’t mean brighter colours are left out altogether. Adding a touch of brilliance with a jewel-toned scarf or hat can make a real statement, as well as giving more impact to the natural contrast of the other tones. Or you can also push the boundaries altogether by opting for a totally different palette such as pale pastels for a unique take on the traditional style.
Which Are The Best Patterns For Boho Clothing?
The defining feature of boho clothing is layering. You’ll be wearing a combination of different clothing items, with an emphasis on the overall layered effect, rather than drawing attention to one particular article. This means you need to choose clothes that mix and match well, without one item standing out. So as well as choosing plain fabrics, you also want to make sure your patterns are small and subtle.
Little florals or the classic mille fleurs are both good choices, or you could go for delicate polka dots or subtle pinstripes. Ethnic prints can bring a gorgeous ambience to your look, but don’t go overboard with the print. Understated options, such as ikat prints, are a superb choice rather than something big and bold.
How To Style The Bohemian Outfit
When you’re thinking about how to dress bohemian, there are plenty of factors to consider.
Choose Your Layers Carefully
Layering is essential in achieving the bohemian look, but although it may look as though you can just throw a few items of differing lengths together to achieve a great style, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.
Consider the overall effect of the layering. The eye should be drawn to your face as your central feature, so don’t ‘overload’ the look towards the ground. Aim for a layered effect which emphasises your face first and then travels through the rest of your body.
Do the layers flatter your frame or draw attention to less attractive parts? Use the layers to sweep around your body and disguise areas such as wide hips or imposing shoulders. And remember that unfettered layering can make you look larger, rather than outlining your natural curves, so think about cinching your waist with a belt or scarf used as a cummerbund instead.
Choose A Look To Match Your Body Shape
Take time to create a combination of elements that work well with your body shape. If you have square shoulders, keep your top half relatively well fitted and allow your lower layers to flare outwards to balance your look. If you’re tall and willowy, make the most of it by using long flowing layers that swirl as you walk, perhaps teamed with leggings and heeled ankle boots to accent your long legs.
Petite figures need to exercise extra care when layering – this is most definitely a case for ‘less is more’ or you can end up looking totally swamped. Opt for light fabrics and choose shorter outer layers, such as a cropped jacket over a boyfriend shirt. Skinny jeans and heeled shoes will give the illusion of extra height.
Slim boyish figures were made for the figure-hugging look, such as little denim shorts teamed with a bra-top, and topped with an oversized denim jacket. Leggings, ankle socks and heeled ankle boots will finish the whole outfit off beautifully.
Try A Different Take
The beauty of the boho-chic-style outfits is that there are different aspects to the looks.
For example, the vintage style of bohemian dress sticks closely to the original hippie concept, with an emphasis on the peasant styling of the early 70s. Long swirling skirts or maxi-dresses, cheesecloth tunic smocks with embroidered details, and faux fur gilets are all hallmarks of this trend. Kaftans and wide-legged pants are also popular.
The ethnic boho look maximises the impact of ethnic cultures, incorporating elements such as African prints, animal prints, and natural embellishments such as beads and shells. Remember to choose smaller subtle prints rather than vibrant geometric designs, and take advantage of the natural tones of the ethnic palette to add plain contrasts to your outfit.
And Don’t Forget Your Accessories
Accessories are just as important to the boho style as your actual clothing. Carefully chosen items such as belts, scarves and hats, can make the world of difference to your overall ambience. Materials such as metals, leather, beads and ceramics are all important elements to the boho style.
A scarf can be tied at the neck, draped over the shoulders, or used as an impromptu belt. It can add a splash of colour or blend subtly with your colour palette, and can be sleek and silky, elegantly fringed or embellished with beads for an ethnic look.
A hat can give your outfit a completely different look, so you can ring the changes with one outfit and a variety of hats. Try a sailor-style cap to match a cheeky boyish ensemble with shorts and striped tee, or a mysterious fedora with a long skirt and oversized jacket for a feminine touch. And nothing looks greater with a loose cheesecloth or chiffon sundress than a wide-brimmed sunhat.
Catching your waist with a belt is a great way to add definition to your silhouette. A braided or tooled leather version makes a subtle impression or a metallic belt created from ornate motifs gives a truly vintage feel to your boho theme.
Boho jewellery is intended to be noticed, so aim for big and bold but with a natural feel. Choose ethnic designs crafted from leather, shells, wooden beads and woven threads for ethnic appeal. Inca-style metallic motifs, such as a matching necklace and dangling earring set is great for a vintage look. Or mix and match layered necklaces and multiple bangles to emphasise your layered appearance.
Set your entire ensemble off with the right choice of shoe. Leather Roman sandals look fabulous with a summer outfit, clumpy Ugg-style boots are great in winter, whilst heeled ankle boots teamed with leggings make your legs look extra long and toned.
Tote all your items around in an over-sized bag such as a big leather hobo bag or shopper, and of course, no boho look is complete without a pair of stylish sunglasses perched on your head.
How To Get The Boho-Chic Look Wrong
It’s easy to get the boho style wrong. Overdoing the layering is a classic mistake, when you try to combine too many elements without giving thought to the overall impression. Forgetting to contrast looser items with fitted ones can also leave you looking like a badly wrapped Christmas present, as can merely throwing items together without thinking about your body shape. It’s all too easy to let the natural boho style become lazy hobo style if you don’t think about the whole outfit and make your selection carefully.
How To Get The Boho-Chic-Style Right
Once you realise that an effortlessly casual look requires lots of effort beforehand, then getting the boho-chic look right is simplicity itself. Limit your layering to a few essential items, and always aim for a co-ordinated whole. Mix fitted items with looser ones, and think about how to flaunt your best features whilst disguising your less favourable ones. Opt for subtle patterns mixed with unfussy plain fabrics so you don’t create an over-busy impression, and above all, make the style your own rather than slavishly copy a celebrity outfit that doesn’t let your own unique personality shine through.
Natalia Cabezas has opted for a more sophisticated, contemporary take on the bohemian style. In a cute white lace detailed shirt dress, Natalia looks relaxed and ready for summer! Try this look with ankle boots and a fedora to get that retro feel.
Dress: Asos, Hat: Brixton, Bag: Zara, Boots: Chloe via Farfetch.es.
To get a cute and summery bohemian style like this one, try combining pastel colours. Annabelle Fleur is wearing a sky blue and white oversized blouse with traditional bohemian print detailing paired with distressed denim shorts, keeping all colours pastel!
Blouse: English Factory, Shorts: One Teaspoon, Bag: Chloe, Sandals: Castaner.
There is almost nothing more elegantly bohemian than a white lace dress! Rachel Barnes has created perhaps the ultimate sophisticated style here, pairing a little sheer white dress with knee high gladiator sandals and a classic wide brimmed hat for authenticity.
Faux fur is a must have if you are invested in attaining a true bohemian style! Linh Niller Huynh is rocking the hippie vibe in this gorgeous neutral coloured faux fur vest, paired with ankle boots and a beige mini skirt.
Top/ Dress: H&M, Fur Vest: Missguided, Shoes: Topshop, Bag: Emily Cho.
Fringed leather is a must-wear style if you’re trying to capture true bohemian spirit this summer! Natalia Cabezas exudes boho vibes in this cute outfit consisting of jeans, an oversized denim jacket and a fringed leather bag with tassel detailing.
Jacket/T-Shirt: Asos, Jeans: Zara, Boots: Zara, Bag: Rebecca Minkoff via Sarenza.es.
A bohemian style is only complete once you’ve worked in some statement prints! Julie Sarinana spruces up this cute and casual look with an ultra bohemian embroidered bag, paired with platforms and accessories for a stylish aesthetic.
Shorts: Tularosa, Top: Shop Sincerely Jules.
Annabelle Fleur is exuding some major bohemian vibes in this super cute off the shoulder aztec style dress, paired with classic multicolour sandals with pom poms and tassel detailing!
Dress: DODO BAR OR, Sandals: Mabu By Maria BK, Bag: Chloe.
Who said the bohemian trend didn’t work in black? Kayla Seah proves them wrong, looking ultra stylish in this black off-the-shoulder dress, paired with strappy gladiator sandals.
Dress: Maje, Sandals: Zara, Hat: & Other Stories.
Jenny Tsang is looking super cute in this blue and white playsuit, a perfect depiction of contemporary boho chic! A playsuit like this is an ideal choice for those days where you want an alternative to a classic dress. We love this fun and flirtatious style!
Playsuit: The Jetset Diaries, Sunglasses: Made Eyewear, Shoes: Miista.
Marianela Hernández is looking glamorously bohemian in this gorgeous white maxi dress. With slit detailing down the front, this dress simply oozes sex appeal!
Dress: Sheinside, Hat: BohoChic, Sandals: Panama Jack, Bag: Zara.
Fringed leather is any bohemian chick’s go-to item! Mónica Sors wears the trend over a super cute layered ruffle dress, paired with an embroidered clutch with sequin detailing for that added chic!
Dress/Waistcoat: Mes Voyages à Paris Shop, Bag: Mulaya, Boots: Zara.
Jana Wind is looking effortlessly bohemian in this cute off the shoulder dress, which is perfect for the upcoming festival season! Paired with cowboy style boots, this look is utterly authentic, we love it!
Brands not specified.
Nicholl Vincent is rocking a classic floaty dress in sheer white here, creating a gorgeously bohemian silhouette which is perfect for summer wear! Worn with a bralette and ankle boots, this look is elegant and sexy.
Tiphaine Marie is looking ultra boho in this adorable gypsy print mini dress and oversized cream scarf. Paired with thigh high boots and wide rimmed sunnies, this look is perfect for a happy hippy style!
Dress: Tularosa from Revolve, Cardigan: Topshop, Boots: Dune, Bag: Givenchy.
Annabelle Fleur is wearing perhaps the ultimate bohemian style here; a stunning lace-detailed off the shoulder maxi dress. This style is perfect for any summer evening, and will surely give you a style which any true bohemian would be jealous of!
Dress: Miguelina Kimora.
Chriselle Lim is a vision in bohemian glamour in this gorgeous technicolour floral print dress, paired with strappy gladiator sandals and a pair of vintage style shades.
Dress: Valentin, Shoes: Sigerson Morrison, Sunnies: Rayban.
There is nothing more bohemian than a tasselled suede jacket! Elsa Ekman is a picture of boho beauty in this sheer dress and hippie shades, paired with patterned heels and a simple tote.
Shirtdress: Samsøe & Samsøe, Jacket: PULZ jeans, Bag: Hunkydory, Shoes: River Island, Sunnies:H&M.
Caroline Daur has created another boho ensemble here by pairing a sheer maxi skirt with a tasselled leather jacket and matching leather pixie boots. We think this outfit is great for a more sophisticated – yet no less bohemian – style!
Skirt/Jacket: Maje, Shoes: Pavement, Bag: Chanel.
Natalia Cabezas shows us exactly how to wear the minimalistic boho trend, pairing a simple neck blouse with lace detailing with beige mini shots and classic gladiator sandals.
Blouse/Shorts: Zara, Sandals: Blowfish via Sarenza.
This cute and simple printed dress is well in keeping with the boho trend, and paired with classic wellies it is the ultimate hippy style! Via Megan Anderson.
Dress: Free People, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell.
For a simple but classic bohemian style, try wearing a short fringed dress witha pair of funky ankle boots like Rebecca Laurey. Add a straw hat for that extra degree of authenticity!
Dress: Zara, Boots: Toga Pulla, Hat: Lack of Color, Bag: Claris Virot.
If you’re wondering how to style the bohemian trend, look to Rachel Barnes’ classic hippy look for inspiration! Pairing a gipsy patterned maxi coat with high waisted fringed denim and a plunge neck tee, Rachel is owning the boho look!
Brands Not Specified.
Carla Estévez Marcos is rocking the classic bohemian style in this outfit consisting of a wool cardigan, a fringed leather bag, and statement red cowboy boots!
Cardigan: Bimba&Lola, Jeans: Levi’s, Boots: Sendra.
Soraya Bakhtiar looks gorgeous in this boho style lace maxi dress.
Dress: H&M, Trousers: Balenciaga, Necklace: Topshop.
Annabelle Fleur goes all out bohemian in a red silk-satin dress with a tiered skirt and a little black waistcoat.
Dress: Paul & Joe, Bag/Boots: Chloe.
Mafalda Castro is wearing cute boho midi dress with fringed leather ankle boots and a wide brimmed hat.
Dress: Mary G World, Boots: Zara.
Try wearing an oversized suede shirt over a simple white lace dress for an easy boho look. Via Magda.
Dress: Tutaj, Shoes: Prima Moda.
Leather trousers are a winner this season; unleash your bohemian side with a chunky knit cardigan and matching hat. Via Valerie Husemann.
Cardigan: Edited the Label, Hat: Topshop.
Larisa Costea rocks this floor length black laced dress. Pair with a fringed leather bag for the ultimate boho look.
Dress/Sandals: Choies, Bag: Lulu’s.
Mafalda Castro is wearing cute bohemian blouse with strappy maroon heels and trendy denim shorts.
Blouse: SuiteBlanco, Bag: SuiteBlanco, Shoes: Public Desire.
Nina Suess is wearing distressed denim shorts and a sequinned jacket – gorgeous!
Shops: Not Specified
Jennifer Sandsjö is the walking definition of boho beauty in these flared paisley print trousers and white sweater!
Shops: Not Specified
Not so much boho as boho chic. The jacket and skirt reflects the 70′s, but the shoes and bag brings the outfit solidly to modern day. Via Kenza Zouiten
Jacket/Skirt: Zara, Shoes: Topshop, T-shirt: Acne, Sunglasses: Karen Walker, Bag: Prada
Could this be the perfect summer boho outfit? In love with the top and the frayed shorts. Via Nina Suess
Top: Zara, Shorts/Shoes: Edited, Bag: Chloe
Mafalda Castro totally rocks the boho trend in these fringed sandals with a colourful dress!
Dress: Primark, Sandals: Suite Blanco, Hat: Zara
Larisa Costea makes the classic little black dress look totally individual with this fringed bag and hat!
Dress: Romwe, Boots: Zara, Bag: Lulu
We love Vanja Milicevic’s hipster look of brown gladiator sandals, a white tunic dress and a fringed bag!
Dress: Zara, Bag: Zara
Mary Seng goes boho with this cute summer dress.
Dress: Free People, Hat: Urban Outfitters
Sara Escudero in a patterned cardigan, beige maxi dress and wedges all from Ralph Lauren
The textured lace bell bottom pants combined with the patterned wrap are bothclassic elements of the boho style. Photography via Rocky Barnes. The pants are from Made for Pearl, top from Free People, wrap from Lovestitch and the necklace is from Ax
We love Julie Sarinana’s bohemian look of a distressed denim skirt and black & white patterned shirt!
Blouse: Denim & Supply by RL, Skirt: Vintage Levi’s, Sandals: Isabel Marant, Bag: Vin Baker, Sunnies: Karen Walker, Hat: Janessa Leone
Lace up sandals, a pink maxi dress and shades – the perfect summer outfit! Via Kayla Seah
Dress: Free People, Sandals: Free People, Slip: Nearly Nudes, Sunglasses: Ray Ban, Bracelet: Jenny Bird
Contemporary boho chic Via Angelica Blick. It is the natural style of the white dress and the hat that leaves a bohemian impression. The dress is from Zara, shoes from Topshop and the sunglasses are from Gina Trico
Amber Fillerup Clark is exhibiting this casual look of jeans and a yellow frilly shirt!
Top: Rachel Comey, Hat: Janessa Leone, Jeans: Citizens Of Humanity, Bag: Chanel
Chiara Nasti is bringing back flares combined chunky brown heels and a patterned blouse!
Shops: Not Specified
Amy Jackson in a button front suede skirt, matching shoes and and loose fitting cotton top. Very boho.
All Items: Topshop