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Fashionated: New Bohemian

Updated on January 10, 2017
While romantic, the stereotypical "Hippie" look is not conducive to modern life and leisure!
While romantic, the stereotypical "Hippie" look is not conducive to modern life and leisure! | Source

Free Spirit Syle


Just about everyone has an idea as to what a free spirit, bohemian, or hippie might wear. But often, attempting to emulate these now high-style looks makes one appear dressed for a costume party or fire festival. So on to making the 60s and 70s modernized again, invigorating stereotypical natural looks with new life and greater style.

The Day Wardrobe

The basic Day wardrobe of a Free Spirit.
The basic Day wardrobe of a Free Spirit. | Source

Bohemian Day

For day, casual and carefree are the aims.

Avoid the expected. Oversized flared pants or a peasant skirt might seem an obvious choice, but we begin to lean towards high school homecoming Hippie Day. Just. Say. No.

Instead, modernize this look with a pair of stone washed skinny jeans. Avoid those that appear deconstructed (holes,bleach stains, etc),and instead, opt for a more faded but intact look. Fading lends a vintage vibe to the outfit, while a the skinny shape is decidedly modern.

If you are dead-set on flares, look for a more modern cut. Slim in the leg, with a high waist, these jeans look best in a dark wash and paired with a killer pair of heels.

This mixing of old and new is what will define this style.

In summer months, wide-leg linen pants are a comfortable option, but avoid overly "earthy" tones. That baby-poop avocado green pair will not be a chic addition to your closet. But a white, pale gray, or black pair? Magical warm weather staples.

Embrace modern movements to keep this fresh: love leggings, but want be more bohemian? Pair a beaded or embroidered tunic with black or neutral cropped leggings and a pair of simple flats or Birkenstock sandals for an updated take on Bohemian day wear

Shoes are best in a sling back with a cork or hemp heel, often a wedge, but if you prefer a flat shoe for day, go with a canvas slide or a metallic Grecian sandal. Flip flops are NOT acceptable for this look, for while the free spirit cultivates a feel of thrown together appeal, rubber thongs are far too commonplace. Birkenstock style sandals can be a comfortable and refreshing alternative.

Bohemian and Office Appropriate

SaashiWear Women Indian Ethnic Punjabi Jutti Leather Footwear Flat Shoe
SaashiWear Women Indian Ethnic Punjabi Jutti Leather Footwear Flat Shoe

These embroidered flats add style and interest to even the most basic of outfits. They will look great with pants or skirts!


For tops, layering is key to cultivating a chic, bohemian vibe.

Delicate silk and chiffon tanks or camisoles are beautiful layered beneath soft draped sweaters or kimono tops. Vary the shapes and textures of both pieces, reflecting which pants are being worn (wide pants= narrower/slimmer tops, narrow/slim pants= wide/fuller top).

Choose either a soft, almost pastel color family (watery blues or greens, soft yellows), or else focus on richer jewel tones (rust, chocolate, teal).

Consider pattern combining as well. While often tricky, the right mix of patterns can create a very laid-back, casual vibe of confidence. Think of paisleys, florals, and soft plaids, all within similar color palates and in a small scale/size.

The entire look should feel soft, but not sloppy.

Accessorize with chunky turquoise, bronze , or copper pieces. Feel free to investigate flea markets and thrift stores to find “authentic” pieces. Vintage squash blossom necklaces are my favorites for a bohemian look.

A wrist full of metal or wood bangles top the look, as can a sheer scarf looped around the neck.

Druzy stones, agate, and rough-hewn gemstones are great additions to the Bohemian who wants a little more bling to their look. Keep metals rustic and cuts chunky.

Free Spirit Style Icon: Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is a great example of the modern Free Spirit!
Kate Hudson is a great example of the modern Free Spirit! | Source

Free Spirit at Work

To make more office appropriate, replace jeans with wide legged trousers in a brown or charcoal tone, light or dark is up to you. Microsuede, linen, and even chiffon can be nicely appropriate.

A soft, free-form cardigan or wrap in a luscious jewel tone or natural pattern can be sophisticatedly carefree.

Substitute an organic silk camisole for the tissue tanks, but accessorize in a similar way: organic stone pieces, brushed metals, handmade quality. If sandals are not allowed in office(or are out of season!), seek out flats that have an exotic or homespun quality (beading, tapestry, embroidered, etc).

A slouchy leather boot can also be a great cooler weather alternative, and a nice way to add a bit of masculine style to an otherwise feminine look.

Bohemian Evening Looks

An example of options for bohemian evening wear, ranging from dress, to skirt, to pants.
An example of options for bohemian evening wear, ranging from dress, to skirt, to pants. | Source
R.Vivimos Women Chiffon Flower Printing Split Asymmetrical Long Dresses Medium
R.Vivimos Women Chiffon Flower Printing Split Asymmetrical Long Dresses Medium

A soft, flowing dress like this is romantic, bohemian, and flattering to many shapes. The gold embellishments mean minimal jewelry is needed to complete this modern look.


Free Spirit Evening Wear

At night, the bohemian look is all about movement.

If leaning for dresses or skirts, focus on a flowing cut and a fine fabric. Silk is my favorite choice, as it looks and feels expensive. Maxi (or full length) is the more sophisticated option, as slip dresses can appear more risque as we age. Pale tones, especially blues and grays, give a nymph-like air. Embrace it.

If pants are more your preference, opt for either a flowing wide legged or or skinny shiny dark pant (such as satin or coated denim). If wide leg, look for satin, silk, or chiffon. I would not advocate going full palazzo, as it can dwarf leg length, resulting in a frumpier overall look. Aim instead for a clean fit at the top of the hip, and for it to fall straight to the ground from there.

For either one,add in one of your silk day tanks, or be adventurous and embrace leather or beading. Or, if you have the body and attitude for it, rock a crop top. Fine materials and a good cut can keep it surprisingly chic.

If it is warm, feel free to leave your shoulders bare. You are a free spirit; no one can really tell you what to do.

If you do wish for more coverage, look for sheer tunics, or even sheer half-shirts, or layer your crop/cami under a sheer kimono. A beaded tunic can also be a great bohemian option with greater modesty.

Free Spirit Style Icon: Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie is always bohemian, and very often very chic.
Nicole Richie is always bohemian, and very often very chic. | Source

More on Accessories

Whether in pants or dress, accessories are not much different.

Embellished dresses are totally acceptable, but being honest, they are not my favorite option for a bohemian fashionista. Instead, I recommend choosing either a pattern or a solid colored dress/skirt, letting color and cut do your style-talking. By limiting the embellishments, you have a greater range of accessory options, without looking costume-y.

Chandelier earrings (especially those from India), are gorgeous additions to the free spirited outfit, and can be found in almost every color of the rainbow.

If you prefer necklaces over large earrings (because I do NOT advocate wearing both at once), then focus on long, delicate strings of beads or charms. Look for pieces utilizing natural stones, burnished metals, and even bone.

Rings and bracelets look best when made with raw, unfaceted stones. In truth, I would steer away from any faceted stones in favor of those in a more rustic state. Small, rough stones in high end settings are some of my favorite pieces. All the glamour of big jewelry, but in sophisticated doses.

For shoes, I push for metallic Grecian sandals, any height you choose. If sandals are not appropriate or comfortable, I like a nice beaded or embroidered flat, possible in a tribal or ikat print. Any shape can work, but the more pointed the toe, the longer the leg appears.

To fight the evening chill, a sheer wrap or beautiful sari can do the trick. Other options include sheer kimono tops, a soft-form blazer, or a patterned pashmina. The look is still focused on soft, flowing shapes and rich or watery tones.

Kate Hudson as Penny Lane in "Almost Famous", has a great style and even greater coat!  Vintage cuts and styles can work great for the Free Spirit.
Kate Hudson as Penny Lane in "Almost Famous", has a great style and even greater coat! Vintage cuts and styles can work great for the Free Spirit. | Source


A word on outerwear: large crocheted wraps can be great in jewel tones. If you prefer a coat, a cropped version of the classic sheepskin/afghan is cool, but can be replaced by a much more modern slim fitting leather (real or fake!) jacket. The tailored lines will play on the looseness of the rest of the look, and give structure to your windblown façade.

Style Tips

  • Avoid deconstructed elements
  • Soft and sheer is key for layering, and natural or organic fibers wear well
  • Consider structure in the top layer
  • Accessories should be dangling, natural, and striking
  • Shoes are best with natural fibers and a bit of heel or interest
  • Outerwear is great in sheepskin or leather (real or fake!)

Which Free Spirit do you prefer?

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