Bohemian fashion is a sense of style that is as wide as the world itself as it is considered to be an expression of self among the immensely artistic and creative types. In the modern day and age, it is a healthy combination of a variety of silhouettes and hues. Many associate the bohemian fashion style solely with women, although men’s ‘boho fashion’ (as it is colloquially known) is just as popular.
This style originated in the west in the early 20th century, with some of the literary greats of that era personifying bohemian fashion. Mainstream fashion took cues from the gypsy culture and imbibed flowing drapes as bottom-wear along with flared shirts, beads, baubles, scarves, shawls and loose fitting overcoats. Every decade in the 1900s has seen some amount of evolution in this style, right from the ‘Dorelia’ look and the ‘New Look’ to the iconic girl-power inspired look of the 1960s. Since then, the boho chic look has seeped steadily into the Indian market as well. While Western fashion is one of the defining elements of modern bohemian fashion, Indo-Western garments are not far behind. However, what makes bohemian fashion an indelible part of the Indian culture is the extensive range of modern costume jewelry that makes use of age-old handicraft styles, materials and techniques.
Bohemian fashion for men in India is all about cool clothing. For instance many men in India prefer wearing cotton kurtas or short kurtas with loose linen pants in pale colors. They prefer accessorizing this ensemble with a scarf, aviator sunglasses or beads. The Rudraksh beads for instance are very popular among men. Even scarves draped in different styles are very popular, especially since they gained wide recognition from Bollywood. The open V-neck along with a mandarin collar is among the more sought after choices in men’s kurtas. As an alternative to linen pants, men also prefer a pair of denims set off with a funky kurta with religious symbols like Om or the swastika on it. In couture men’s bohemian fashion, pairing tailored jackets with shirts, scarves and slim-fit shorts is part of the current bohemian fashion trends. While the jackets and shorts are preferred in solid colors, the shirts can feature a number of different patterns such as checks, floral prints, Indian embroidery and motifs. There are other elements of Indian fashion that have seeped into men’s boho culture, such as that of wearing dhoti pants with a t-shirt and accessorizing the ensemble with beads, among others. To complete the ensemble, men can often be seen wearing leather wristbands, rubber wristbands in a number of different colors and other such accessories.
Bohemian fashion for women is versatile and a good mix of uniquely Indian and uniquely Western elements. A loose and flowing top paired with fitted bottoms or vice versa, is the general theme in Bohemian fashion for women. For instance, pairing of the spaghetti top or a gunjee with balloon pants or flared Jodhpuri pants are very popular among young women, especially college-going girls. Printed tunics or kurtas are also an important part of bohemian culture for women in India. Bright floral prints, Aztec prints, geometric prints and abstract shapes are very popular in urban centers. Three-fourth flared sleeves give off a very boho chic vibe and is one of the most sought after sleeve styles in the country. Dresses and skirts with Indian prints like paisleys on them are also very appealing and have a huge market. Chunky jewelry in earthy materials like wood, copper and bone are widely used and worn in the hand, around the neck and even in the hair.
Bohemian Fashion Tips
One of the most important bohemian fashion tips any stylist can offer is to recognize one’s own style and inject that into the wardrobe, whether it is in clothing or in accessorizing. However, there are certain things one can do in general to imbibe the boho vibe:
- Cotton short kurtas for men are the easiest way to start off in the boho-chic style genre. While a majority of these kurtas are available in solid, khadi colors like off-white and light brown, prints can also be sought out.
- Women can also wear printed floral tunics with their regular bottom wear garments. Knitted or crochet appliqué work on the neckline and the cuffs gives a more authentic bohemian look.
- Footwear is also important to the overall look. Women can wear black strappy pumps with their outfits, while men can go for leather kohlapuri chappals. Both men and women can also explore mojaris, as one of the most viable options for styling. Embroidered mojaris with stones and gems are also very popular among women.
- Beaded jewelry can be worn by both sexes. While a single string is the way to go for men, women can dress up a lot more with multiple strings of beads and chunky beads.