Boho Demystified!

As a second chapter of my ‘Inspired Fashion’ series… this one is me creating a modern-day Bohemian look inspired by the Latinas, Roman warriors and Tribal arts!

Actually, while working on this look, I was generally trying to find out the history behind the various elements that we use in this ‘on-trend’ ‘boho-chic’ look, and was amazed at the kind of interesting stuff I found! So I thought of sharing it with you guys as well…

So here’s a little peep into the past of all these fashionable thingies that you see hanging around in stores these days…

Gladiator Sandals:

Photo: Ancient Roman Gladiator sculpture

Gladiator Sandals, just as the name suggests, were worn by Roman Gladiators and Greek Gods. It’s because they were comfortable, breathable, and flexible; and provided great support and movement during the fights! The styles obviously have evolved and become more delicate now… but the essence remains the same! And while we, sporting ‘that boho look’, are not really headed for any wars… it certainly does provide that edgy, intense, androgynous look to compliment a trend who’s essence is based on freedom and ‘going back to roots’.

Ethnic Prints:

Photo: Navajo’s Ganado Pattern similarities with Mango skirt

Most of the biggest brands globally are seen with collections of printed skirts, dresses, blouses and pants ranging from Batiks (Javanese wax print), to Shibori (Japnese tie & dye) to Ikats (Indian) and several other ethnic prints! This skirt that I’m wearing from Mango for example, has an embroidered pattern which is very close to the ‘Ganado’ pattern of designs created by the Navajo Tribe of South Western USA and New Mexico.

It’s a shame that more often than not, we don’t know the names of the patterns that we’re seeing and wearing, and hence, just bucket them all under ‘tribal prints’. However, it’s more fun to wear them once you actually know what their origins are! (Here’s a link you might want to visit to know more about some of these patterns: Click here)

Flower Crowns:

Photo: Flower Crown inspiration – Frida Kahlo

Flower Crowns have become a major rage these days. Right from snaphat filters to floral headbands at Accessorize… they’re there everywhere!

However, this fresh flower wreath is not really a new concept! From ancient Greece where laurel wreaths were used to crown Gods and kings to honour great achievement and respect… to Rembrandt’s paintings and Shakespeare’s plays… flower crowns were used to adorn the heads of great men and women alike! Ukrainian and Chinese weddings have always had flower crowns as an integral part of their bridal outfits!

Flower Crowns however, became extremely fashionable in the 1930’s when Frida Kahlo, the gorgeous Mexican artist icon, took to traditional Mexican dressing; and adorned with dramatic fresh flower-crowns, created her own self-portraits!

This fresh flower halo that I’m wearing is pretty much an inspiration from her!

The present day popularity of the flower crowns though, we primarily owe to the 1960’s hippie movement in America, through which flower crowns became a symbol of love, peace and happiness. The hippie subculture, from back then, is essentially what today’s ‘bohemian fashion’ trend is inspired from… and hence, the mainstream come-back of the ‘flower-crowns’!

Ornaments and Gemstones

Photo: Indian and other Asian tribal women

While in this look I’m going for a more ‘Latina’ inspired look, beads and tattoos play an even bigger role in tribal inspired gypsy fashion…!

Basically, all ancient cultures, including Greek, Egyptian and Indian cultures, believe that beads, semi-precious stones and metals, have healing and protecting powers! Turquoise, for example, is one of the most commonly used gemstones in modern day boho jewelry. Why? That’s because most ancient cultures, believed that turquoise was the stone of the universe… of the sky… of aether! Hence, by wearing turquoise, they believed their minds would be able to transcend the earthly boundaries and become one with the universe! This again finds synergies with the concept of soul-searching and transcending material boundaries, which the hippie subculture strongly believed in!

Other stones such as corals, amber, agate, cat’s eye, black onyx, malachite etc. were (and still are) believed to have protective qualities.

These stones were all used extensively and excessively by different tribal cultures, who because of their need for protection from the constant invasions of animals, other tribes and natural calamities, relied heavily on their protective powers to make them feel safe and confident.

Metal ornaments too… were used extensively and worn in a way that they acted not just as adornments, but as weapons and shields whenever there was a need! Hence, the bulky, sturdy nature of them… which we’re all so in awe of! 🙂

There’s a lot more that I can go on and on about… on tattoos, and gypsy symbols, etc…

For now however, I hope this helped demystify at least a few of the concepts you were left wondering about, about boho fashion, and that the next time you try out this look for yourself, you secretly feel nice about wearing not just fashionable clothes, but little nuggets of ancient cultures! 😉

All pictures of me are clicked by the gorgeous Sonalee D. (Sonalee’s instagram)

Outfit Details:

Skirt: Mango

Top: Free People

Gladiator Sandals:

Black Hat: Forever 21

Amber Necklace: H&M

Bag: Handmade by the ethnic tribes of Chiang Mai, Thailand 🙂

Until next time… Muuaahh!

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About Me

Sonal is a Post Graduate in Luxury Brand Management from Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing, Florence (Italy) and has over 9 years of experience as a Brand Strategist working in the advertising industry.

She has also been a Consumer Insights Miner specializing in fashion and luxury brands.