Boho chic isn’t just hot. It’s entered the Charlotte fashion lexicon, right up there with “preppy” and “rocker” in the what’s-your-thing categorization.
And it’s more flexible than either, moving from day to night, casual to formal, with equal laid-back ease.
“If we post a boho chic look from our store on social media, it will sell out in a day,” says Lotus boutique founder Effie Loukas. “I think it’s so popular because it’s very flowy and carefree, which makes it comfortable.”
We asked local experts to whip up a few looks for party season, from work gatherings to all-out dressy functions. But we can’t let you go without a little history lesson, and a periodic table of boho elements.
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“Bohemia” was the name of a 15th-century place in central Europe that’s now part of the Czech Republic.
So how’d it get to be a fashion adjective? It was a lifestyle adjective first.
Back then, travelers and refugees roving areas of France were dubbed “Bohemién” by the French, who believed they’d come from Bohemia. By 1845, when French novelist Henri Murger wrote “Scenes de la Vie de Boheme,” people understood that these scenes in the life of “bohemians” revolved around roving, rejecting ordered society and, of course, its conventional dress. Puccini based his 1896 opera “La Bohème” on those stories; Jonathan Larson based his 1994 musical “Rent” on Puccini and somewhere in there – well, 1975, to be exact – Queen came up with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
All these cement a definition the British periodical Westminster Review came up with in 1862: A “Bohemién” is “simply an artist or littérateur who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art.”
Unconventionality means different things in different times, of course, but a flowing, floppy freedom has stayed consistent – from the women who ditched structured, corseted Victorian wear and inspired the pre-Raphaelites in the latter part of the 19th century, to Mary-Kate Olsen 100 years later, ditching the cuteness of her “Full House” TV days. (Those earlier women started something called the Rational Dress Society in 1881 in London, aiming at the obliteration of any fashion that “deforms the figure, impedes the movements of the body, or in any way tends to injure the health.” Brava, ladies.)
The stuff got dubbed “boho chic” somewhere in the first decade of the 21st century or so (circa Sienna Miller’s “Alfie,” maybe). Though the secession from conventionality has taken other names through the years – think beatnik and hippie – standard-bearers keep rising, from Sienna Miller to Kate Moss to Florence Welch, as now-conventionally unconventional clothing keeps coming from makers from Free People to Isabel Marant.
We asked three stores to put together boho chic looks for three different types of holiday parties. Lotus at the Metropolitan (dressy), KK Bloom on Selwyn Avenue (casual) and Clothes Mentor consignment on Kings Drive (work). Here’s what each store came up with:
Lotus boutique founder Effie Loukas thinks a long skirt is a boho essential. She loves an emerald green, pleated version ($120). For the holiday, she added some bling with a sequined top ($76) and sparkly bracelet ($42). Because boho is also about layering, she added a faux fur vest from C. Luce ($128). Not only does it add a little warmth, it’s a versatile piece for your wardrobe. She would pair the outfit with a bootie to keep the look more casual.
Another dressy option is a champagne-colored lace crop top ($78) and skirt ($66). Depending on the event, you could go more daring by wearing a flesh-colored bralet, or a camisole if you wanted to be more conservative. Loukas would wear a nude or champagne-colored pump. The versatility of the two pieces means you can wear them with other things. “The top would look great with a pair of jeans,” she said.
If you need an outfit for your company party, do you really want to spend a lot of your hard-earned money to look great? That’s why we chose the consignment store Clothes Mentor. Inventory at the store turns over quickly, so these items might not still be available. “We’re called the Clothes Mentor for a reason – we can help you put together any look you want,” said Kelly Hunter, manager of the store at Kings Court on Kings Drive.
She likes boho chic for the holiday because it sets the wearer apart from the norm. For a more casual work party, she paired a dress ($10) with a Banana Republic sleeveless cardigan ($14), a necklace ($8) and Sam Edelman boots with fringe ($45). For a dressier work party, an Anthropologie pleated maxi dress ($25) was accessorized with a necklace of wooden beads ($5) and a belt that’s actually two necklaces ($15 total). “To make a belt from a necklace, just pick one with a design you like to go in the front, then make it fit your waist by attaching it to another necklace,” Hunter said.
KK Bloom owner Kendrick Slaughter picked out two outfits from the store that will take you to casual holiday gatherings from drinks with your friends to your neighborhood party. One has a maxi skirt, which she loves because you can wear it year-round. The shorter dress has a tie-dye print and is a good investment, she says: “Tie-dye is going to be huge this spring.” Gypsy 5 dress ($228); Greylin fur vest ($236); and necklace ($68). Wear it with boots or booties.
She paired an animal print maxi skirt from Show Me Your Mumu ($198) with a sweater from Pink Stitch ($115) and a Mere Jewelry necklace ($87). “This would look great with black booties, especially if they have fringe,” Slaughter said. If you want to dress it up, you could add a black silk blouse tucked in, with a statement necklace and metallic gold heels.