published Monday, March 19th, 2012

1960s vintage Bohemian fashions are back in style

Ayesha Reynolds, left, and Grace Hopkins model bohemian fashions in downtown Chattanooga.
Ayesha Reynolds, left, and Grace Hopkins model bohemian fashions in downtown Chattanooga.
Photo by John Rawlston.

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• Maxi lengths and wide legs.

• Fluid silks, satin, sheers.

• Patterns from Missoni-like to tribal mixes, ethnic stripes to exotic new tropicals and animal prints.

• Accessories with an ethnic twist, extra-long necklaces, new hoops, bangles and cuffs, aged metals, semi-precious stones, straw handbags, floppy wide-brimmed hats, fringed purses.

-- Arlene Goldstein

The fashions that helped to define an era of self-expression have found their groove in the 21st century.

According to BohemianStyleDesign.net, Bohemian, or boho, style is "caring less about what other people think and more about what you really feel. Key elements are color, textiles, beads and collections from around the world."

Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction at Belk, credits designer Yves Saint Laurent for bringing the boho image to the fashion forefront in the 1970s.

The current revival is elegant -- "boho chic," she calls it -- with elements that include daring color and modern safari styles that are upbeat and easy to wear.

The trend "reflects the [1970s] era but feels very of the moment," Goldstein said. "It is modern and updated. It is all about one special piece, not a head-to-toe retro feel."

Industry experts say it's a look women of any age can put together with ease and confidence.

Former fashion boutique owner Edie Redish suggests "a great cowboy or funky boot ... or funky scarf" as easy updates. "Or you can add gobs of necklaces."

Lesley Dale Greenfield, March of Dimes River Valley Chapter community director, said she likes how boho can be adapted to individual styles.

"I love the free-thinking vibe of that era and how you can see people expressed that through their clothing," she said. "... People looked comfortable in their own skin -- relaxed, fun."

Frankie & Julian's boutique owner Suzanne West, who was born in 1975, said she has childhood memories of the style made famous by actresses such as Goldie Hawn and Mia Farrow and singer/actress Jane Birkin.

Her current boho stock includes at least three styles of ankle-length, brightly colored maxi skirts, "and we are selling them like crazy."

West said she expects to see "a lot of fringed handbags, crochet and lace tops and boho-inspired clothing and accessories for spring and summer."

Jonesy Gilbert Wood, who writes a fashion blog, jonesywood.blogspot.com, said her favorite boho accessory is a fringe purse. She said she recently bought "a tiny fringe bag with lots of zippers that slung across my chest" to wear to Mardi Gras.

"It was perfect," she said. "I wouldn't go all fringed out with the bag, shoes, scarf, etc. When pulling off a trendy look, [it's best to] take pieces of it and add it to your own personal style."

Wood said she thinks of boho fashions as being earth tones mixed together in a "fun romantic look that's very effortless and easygoing and minimal makeup with messy yet perfect hair.

"You can make the look as effortless as you like or refine it to be a little more polished," she said. "It's a great look for spring and summer because flowy printed dresses are very forgiving on all body types."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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