The Savvy Gal's Field Guide to Boho Style

The Savvy Gal's Field Guide to Boho Style

When this Nuala Boho Mini Dress arrived in the shop, I got pretty gosh darn excited. Boho-infused style is everywhere in the summertime, and I've always been a fan. Boho style looks are easy to wear, they work well with a closet full of Western-inspired clothing, they can be done in a very budget-friendly way, and they just have a sort of undone vibe that really resonates. Sure, it's not that the look you put together isn't thought-out (when you love clothes, everything is thought out!), it's just that it looks effortless in a way that suggests you don't spend a lot of time overthinking things. 

The Nuala is easy to wear and is super soft, silky and lightweight. Like a lot of boho-inspired pieces, despite the rather ornate print, the dress is hiding an impressive capability for versatility;  it looks equally good with a pair of sandals on the beach as it does with a pair of tall boots and a hat. 

The Origins of Boho Style

Boho style is of course, a shortening of the moniker bohemian style, characterized by a free-spirited and unconventional approach to fashion. It often incorporates elements such as flowing fabrics, earthy tones, and eclectic patterns. This style is all about expressing individuality and creativity through clothing and accessories.


Back to the 60s

The roots of boho style can be traced back to the 1960s, a time of cultural revolution and social change. Influenced by the hippie movement and the bohemian lifestyle, boho fashion emerged as a way to rebel against the rather buttoned-down postwar mainstream and embrace a more laid-back and carefree attitude.

Inspiration from Around the World

Boho style has always drawn inspiration from various cultures around the world, including homegrown travelling communities and incorporating various traditional folk and ethnic clothing pieces. This eclectic mix of influences gives boho fashion its unique and diverse aesthetic.

Modern Interpretations & Pitfalls

Today, boho style continues to evolve and adapt to current trends. Designers and fashionistas put their own spin on boho style, incorporating modern elements and updating classic pieces to create a fresh and contemporary style. 

Today's version does meet with some challenges. As a compassionate society it's important to have an awareness of cultural stereotyping and appropriation.  

Cultural appropriation in particular is a topic that has gained increasing attention in recent years. It refers to the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, often without understanding or respecting the significance of those elements. While some may see this as a form of appreciation or homage, it can actually be harmful and disrespectful. Due to the eclectic cultural influences that boho style is based on, this is a particular trap that fashionistas often find themselves ensnared in.

What is cultural appropriation in fashion?

Cultural appropriation in fashion can take many forms, such as wearing traditional clothing or accessories from a culture that is not your own, using sacred symbols or designs without understanding their meaning, or profiting off of a culture's heritage without giving credit or compensation to the original creators.

Why is it not acceptable?

When individuals or brands appropriate elements of a culture without proper understanding or respect, it can perpetuate harmful stereotypes, erase the significance of those cultural elements, and contribute to the marginalization of the communities from which they originated. It can also lead to economic exploitation, as the original creators may not benefit from the commercialization of their cultural heritage. 

It's important to educate yourself about the cultural significance of culturally-influenced fashion choices, to respect the origins and meanings behind different styles, and most importantly, to support and uplift creators from the cultures we are inspired by.

The example above of the woman in a feather headdress looks like a beautiful photo at a glance - one that you might see as an advertisement for clothing or a promo for a music festival. But culturally speaking, a headdress like the one in the photo, as beautiful as an accessory as it may appear, is considered a restricted item in the native culture of the American Plains. Traditionally, a headdress was worn mainly by men who had earned the right to wear it. It is a traditional and sacred item, and seeing it used as it has been in the above photo is considered offensive and exploitative. 

In summary, those of us who love boho style can stay on the right side of things by remembering a simple thing; while fashion is a form of self-expression, it should not come at the expense of disrespecting or exploiting the cultural heritage of others. We can celebrate diversity and honor the rich tapestry of global fashion in ways that respect culture, and still look the way we want to look - boho style offers a timeless and versatile way to express your personal style!

And of course, when in doubt, ask someone. If you don't have access, as always, Google is your friend.




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