“Boho chic.” When talk of bohemian style icons floated into conversation at Literally, Darling, my first thoughts were to throw the whole idea out, so endlessly replicated (and bastardised) the bohemian trend has become. “Boho chic,” popularised by Mary-Kate Olsen and Sienna Miller, is the covetable yet somewhat soulless amalgam of folk, hippie and gothic trends; the aim, to pursue a whimsical, well-travelled look without actually having to trawl through Eastern European trinket shops and Thai marketplaces. Not when Gucci can replicate an ethnic shawl for twenty times its original price.
But then I thought back to the roots of bohemian style—how effortlessly put together it was, and how ultimately freeing it must feel to float around in billowing shirts and undone hair after the rigid structure that commanded women’s fashion until the late 1960s. Bohemian style is more than flowy skirts among the Glastonbury hoards and oversized sunglasses teamed with mussed-up, dirty blonde hairstyles. It is not the tacky, exhausted peasant skirt acquired from every high street store circa 2004. Instead, “bohemian” conjures thoughts of fairytale gypsies, of hippies kicking back at a summer solstice festival, of seasoned travellers returning from Tibet or Tanzania with locally produced jewellery and antique items that tell a story.
And who embodies this style better than Stevie Nicks, the so-called “queen of rock and roll” who travelled across the globe singing songs that captured the hearts of millions? Her style, so she says, is her “uniform:” the platform boots that elevated her tiny body to a statuesque stage goddess, a neck dripping with beads and a body wrapped in intricate shawls. Nicks’ style is an organic outlet of her spirit and artistry. This, I believe, is the essence of bohemian style, and makes Nicks wholly deserving of iconic status.
You jeal? Let’s break down Nicks’ style into its recurring themes and components … so you can add your own twist on this cool, easy look.
1. Feathery, natural hair.
Oh, darlings, it’s time to break up with your beloved hair straighteners. And your curling iron. You can’t replicate this look with tools—it truly is about going au natural, and being okay with it. The very essence of Nicks’ hair look was very much wash-and-go; her signature look involved long lengths, shaggy layers and flyaway bangs. Top tip? Great condition. And if your hair really is a menace, try washing it at night and sleeping on it in twists or braids: come morning, you’ll have undone, natural-looking waves that won’t take a second to fluff up before you head out the door.
2. Statement make-up.
So, you saved mad time on your hair game … spend that extra few minutes on your make-up. You’ve gotta have guts to pull off some of Nicks’ best beauty looks. Fresh, sun-kissed skin—think of that just-got-back-from-vacation glow—is paired with dramatic eyes and deep lip colors. Invest in a do-everything eye pencil and don’t be afraid to use it! Also, experiment with darker lip colors to add a gothic edge to your hippy-dippy hairstyle. The juxtaposition of different styles is the essence of a bohemian look.
3. Play around with silhouettes.
Bohemian style is about playing with your sex appeal in a less obvious way. Forget squeezing into skin-tight bodycon dresses, because this is a freer and more interesting road to va-va-voom. Pair a plunging neckline with billowing, silky sleeves, or try a tiny shirt with a pair of harem pants or a maxi skirt. Creating a balance between showing skin and leaving something to the imagination is fun … and the major plus? It’s super comfy.
4. Grab a shawl (or three).
Get creative with gorgeous shawls—drape them, layer them, wear them as headscarves. Use your imagination! Be playful with textures and patterns because, when you’ve got to be seen onstage, anything goes … and all the world’s a stage, after all. In this interview/competition with Nylon magazine, Nicks asked readers to design her a great stage shawl with the following little quote:
In 1968, a very handsome boy brought me a poncho from South America,” Nicks said. “I knew it was magic and that someday I would copy it in chiffon or leather or beaded material. I realized that wearing a poncho or a long shawl gave me something to work with up on the stage. Big movements, big twirls, you need to be seen from far away. So I made that a big part of my stage clothes. It became totally intertwined in my fashion style.
5. ALL the accessories!
For the true style bohemian, less is definitely not more. Nicks’ style sensibilities are entirely unique: dramatic, excessive and playful. Layered necklaces, head scarves, hats, belts, little waistcoats … the possibilities are endless. Stop in small boutiques and marketplaces on your travels and load up on trinkets that you’ll cherish; every piece has a story to tell, and a special place in your (extensive) wardrobe. Even better, make something your trademark; Stevie Nicks was known for her love of top hats. By accessorizing, you take a plain outfit and make it yours, develop a sense of personality, and have a lot of fun dressing up.
What are your thoughts on bohemian style? Let us know @litdarling!