What is Boho Chic?

Janis Adams
Janis Adams
Flowing dresses and layered accessories are considered bohemian style.
Flowing dresses and layered accessories are considered bohemian style.

Reaching the height of its popularity in 2005, the boho chic style is a retro hippie style that first flourished in the 1960s and evolved over the ensuing decades. The style is characterized by billowy skirts, embroidered tunics, and hobo bags, among other things. While admittedly this style continues to evolve, it has seemed to remain essentially the same. The style is also one that allows a woman to show her feminine side through the clothes she wears.

Flowing tie-dyed skirts.
Flowing tie-dyed skirts.

The characteristic that differentiates the boho chic style from the true bohemian or hippie look is that it is true style. Those donning the boho look are not poor and unable to purchase a trendy upscale wardrobe pieces. Instead, those arrayed in the boho chic style are purchasing pieces to outfit their look from expensive stores with big names. Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, and Anna Sui are just a few of the designers who have featured boho chic styles on the runways for their collections.

Boho chic is often characterized by billowy skirts and dresses.
Boho chic is often characterized by billowy skirts and dresses.

The boho chic style is about taking the basic style elements seen in the bohemian look and personalizing them. There is no set standard for how a certain piece of apparel must be worn. A gauzy cotton tunic can be left loose and worn over a skirt. Alternatively, that same tunic can be worn with the same skirt and cinched with a leather coin belt. There are no set colors that should be worn together. Rather, it is a basic mix and match approach, with the only style constraints being the desires of the person wearing it.

While at first glance it may appear that boho chic is a cluttered look thrown together at the last minute, it is not. It is instead a well-executed, classy look. The look, while appearing carefree, is thoughtfully constructed and not in the least overdone. Pieces are purposefully chosen and put together with intentional thought. The key to successfully dressing in this style is to think chic.

Boho chic style has been brought to attention by celebrities like Nicole Ritchie and Sienna Miller. Twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olson seem to favor this fashion trend as well. In Britain, it is Kate Moss who became the trendsetter for leading the way to capturing the essence of this style. While these celebrities have most certainly received attention for appearing in this style, it is apparent that any woman dressing in boho chic most certainly makes the style her own.

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Discussion Comments


@bagley79 - I think everyone has a favorite style and way of dressing. I have definitely seen boho clothing that looks kind of sloppy. I have also seen other outfits that look very classy.

I like this style of clothing because I love the combination of a care-free look that can still look dressy and classy. I'm too young for the hippie movement, but I love the soft, billowy skirts and the I think tunics can look very stylish if they are worn with the right accessories.

When I am dressed up in a suit and high heels, I feel just as uncomfortable as you probably do if you dressed in boho chic clothing. The first thing I want to do when I walk in the door when dressing up in like you do everyday, is put on something that is more comfortable.

When I am wearing boho chic fashion, I can wear this all day long and feel completely at ease.


Is it just me, or does anyone else think that boho fashion looks sloppy? I like the idea of mixing and matching your clothes, but a lot of the outfits I have seen look like they are just thrown together with whatever is laying around in the closet.

I put a lot of thought in to what I wear, and always try to have nice looking accessories that go along with my outfits. Maybe I have this attitude because I work in an environment where we have to dress up every day.

Many of my co-workers complain about this, and love the business casual days. I really love dressing up, and have a hard time looking very casual even on those casual days.

The boho chic style of clothing is just not something I feel comfortable wearing because I feel like I am being lazy or careless with my look.


I absolutely love the look of the feminine, yet classy boho chic dresses. I enjoy wearing clothing that enhances my feminine side and find this to be even more comfortable than wearing a pair of jeans.

For me, the secret to being comfortable is the shoes I wear to go along with the outfit. When I wear a boho chic dress, I usually wear a very comfortable pair of sandals that don't have a heel.

Especially on hot summer days, this is much more comfortable and free-flowing than wearing a pair of capri pants. Dressing in the boho chic style is a way to look dressy without the high heels, and form fitting clothes that most people wear when they dress up.


@Perdido - I also think thrift stores or garage sales are the best place to buy boho chic fashion pieces. I have found sound great pieces of clothing this way, and would have a hard time paying high prices for them.

There are many times when I see pictures of celebrities in the magazines, I am surprised by the style of clothing they are wearing.

I always thought if I had the kind of money they have, I would be wearing fancy designer clothes and shoes.

What I finally realized is just because their outfits might look like they were just thrown together, they actually spent a lot of money on them and put quite a bit of thought into what they are wearing.

I have just found a way to have this same look for a lot less money.


I wear the bohemian style of clothing, but I try to pass it off as boho chic. Truthfully, I get all my stuff from secondhand stores that sell it for under $5. However, some items are big brand name garments, and many of them are only slightly used.

I don't buy things with holes in them, because I don't want to admit that I shop at these stores for all my clothing. If you buy items that fit you well and are of good quality, then know one will know you didn't spend a fortune on them.

So, I am a boho chic imitator. Honestly, even if I had plenty of money, I doubt I would spend a ton of it on high-priced clothing. It just feels wrong when I can get the stuff so much cheaper.


I don't dress boho chic all the time, but I do have one outfit in my wardrobe that I wear when I'm feeling like being natural yet stylish. It is boho chic all the way to the shoes.

I have a cream colored billowy top with quarter length sleeves that flare out. A big ruffle goes down the front of the shirt, and it slips over my head. With this top, I wear a champagne colored crinkle skirt that is very light and swings when I walk.

The sandals are cream colored as well, and they have several straps that cross over my feet and ankles. They are slip-ons, so they are comfortable.

The necklace I wear with this outfit is made of leather, and it wraps around my neck. The rest of it hangs down and has cowry shells hanging from it.


@shell4life – I have been dressing in the boho chic style for years, and I have some suggestions for you. Let's start with accessories.

Bangle bracelets are good, because this look lends itself to lots of simple bracelets. If you don't like the multiple wrist jewelry, then consider going with one piece made of big fake flowers or seashells.

As far as makeup goes, the natural look is best. You can cover up your flaws with a bit of foundation, but don't go overboard. For your eyes and lips, choose a neutral or even slightly shimmery shade.

Hair is best worn in loose waves. You can use a curling iron or big rollers, or you can braid it overnight and have waves the next day. You can even leave some small braids in your hair for an extra chic look.


Are there certain accessories and makeup associated with the boho chic style? I love long, flowing skirts and loose blouses, but I want to complete the look with the right jewelry and cosmetics.

Also, what is the best way to wear my hair with boho chic clothing? I'm guessing that it doesn't need to be overdone. I can't imagine that spending an hour doing my hair would result in something that would go well with such a free-flowing look.

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      Flowing dresses and layered accessories are considered bohemian style.
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      Boho chic is often characterized by billowy skirts and dresses.