Updated: Jul 31, 2019
My first introduction to Bohemian style came by way of Mrs. Roper: the spritely, red-haired landlord of the 80’s hit show “Three’s Company.”
She floated into every scene, clad in bulbous, draping necklaces paired with her immaculate white lady afro, and she had an endless array of colorful paisley muumuus that would have made Homer Simpson blush. She looked like the love child between a fortune teller and a homeless beach philanderer, and she was marvelous.
There is something relaxing and strangely self-possessed about Mrs. Roper’s style. With the magical wave of her twiggy arm under one of her epic muumuus, she could have convinced even a sun-averse vampire child like me to lay out and turn a leathery orange in the sun with her, throwing caution and sunscreen to the wind. And in this 1980’s fantasy scenario, Mrs. Roper hands me an ice-cold grape soda and takes her remaining free hand to rustle my equally impressive and immaculate… Asian Lady Afro. We giggle, take turns reciting ancient Korean proverbs, and spend the rest of the afternoon discussing the origins of bohemian style. She even offers to guest “blob” post for me, but I politely decline, too awestruck to let poor Mrs. Roper know it’s a “blog,” not a blob.
Mrs. Roper is how I first came to understand bohemian style: comforting, self-possessed and somehow visually triggers anyone in its eyeline to simmer down. With its mellow vibrations, the essence of bohemian style centers around free and flowy fabrics. Bohemian is the wild child when it comes to style, but unfortunately I have found that the mere utterance of the word “Bohemian” strikes fear in the common woman. Is it the intense dizzying patterns or the ethereal, nymph-like clothing that has so many women reluctant? No, it seems the hesitance expressed by many centers around its questionable wearability. Let’s face it: no matter how glorious that muumuu is, it will never be office appropriate.
Fret not: the Structured Bohemian is the responsible, older sister of Bohemian Style that promises to be both whimsical and wearable. While you are still free to play with flouncy fabrics and bright patterns to conjure all things Mrs. Roper, the structured bohemian will add a bit of structure and form to this wild child of style.
So what exactly qualifies as Bohemian, you ask? Loose, relaxed, and flared fits, and items with kimono, bell and bishop-style sleeves. Regarding patterns, ikat, floral, geometric and tribal all fall under the wild child of bohemian style. Bohemian is a lot of flounce, color and intense patterning. The Structured Bohemian, on the other hand, is achieved by pairing one part flounce and one part structure with black being the main color to achieve structure and wearability.
Tribal Blazer and Pencil Skirt
The blend of a tribal pattern on a fitted blazer is quintessential Structured Bohemian. To ensure that this blazer is the visual focal point, I paired it with a high waisted black pencil skirt and white tank. The look itself feels like a perfect mix of classic Audrey Hepburn and perhaps a bit of Solange Knowles style sensibilities. While the orange and geometric pattern is playful and eye catching, the tailored skirt and muted tank make this outfit appropriate for office and happy hour activities alike.
Geometric Duster and Striped Bodycon
This geometric patterned duster can make anyone feel like a casual Bohemian queen. It drapes loosely over your leg line and moves with your body. To bring a bit of structure to this look, I have paired it with a striped bodycon dress so that your shape is not lost in the billowy nature of the flouncy duster. There is nothing that says grown up and “responsible, law-abiding adult” like a nice pair of stripes. In this case, the stripes work to draw the eye line towards the silhouette and add form and focus to the look.
Paisley Jumpsuit and Black Wrap Top
Ah, the glorious paisley jumpsuit of summer. It is completely backless and unapologetically impractical to wear, but I bought it anyway because the powers of Bohemia compelled me. To instantly transform this sexy jumpsuit, I paired it with a classic black wrap top that ties along the waist. Suddenly the jumpsuit is transformed into a colorful palazzo pant, and the jumpsuit becomes a complete outfit. While these paisley printed pants ooze fun and easily conjure the spirit of Mrs. Roper, the wrap top provides visual balance and cohesiveness to the look.
Don’t Fear The Roper
Perhaps you were visually scarred by Mrs. Roper’s endless array of muumuus and unrepentant use of mind-numbing patterns. Or maybe you belong my ilk, adoring Mrs. Roper but convinced you could never rock a muumuu with her kind of brazen conviction. Whichever camp you fall under, the time has come to reconsider. With these structured bohemian pieces in place, now is the time up to let your muumuu show.
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