How to wear boho (and not look hobo)

Even before the lovely Nina Proudman graced our screens I have been obsessed with boho.


The relaxed girl with sunshine in her hair and peace in her soul, wrapped in long skirts and good intentions. The festival girl, cool and charming in her battered boots and grandmother’s dress. The traveller, borrowing looks from her destinations, weaving her bits and pieces into her outfits like a sartorial travel diary.

I suppose it’s this idea of looking so gorgeously mismatched and easy-going, like a modern day nomad without a care in the world, that strikes me as romantic. My life is far from that, but at least my clothes can me feel like that care-free soul.

Of course, Nina didn’t invite boho. She just made it a little more luxe and a little more accessible.

Before Nina, there was Talitha Getty, Bianca Jagger, Jane Birkin and Ali McGraw (to name just a few) offering inspiration to bohemian souls.

How do you realistically achieve this look in day to day life? How do you combine the elements and look effortlessly boho, rather than slightly crazy and hobo?

Is it really you?

The tough question first. Sometimes we love the idea of something but feel completely uncomfortable when we try it on. I think it’s great to be open to new styles and new ideas, but it’s also important to stay true to yourself. Boho isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Or maybe you just need to find the right boho….

What kind of boho are you?

Bohemian means “a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts.” It’s really a style of dressing that defies convention and embraces individuality. So to presume that there is a formula, or one type of “boho” dressing kind of misses the point. Nina Proudman’s version of boho is luxe, relying on long dresses and skirts, fine jewellery, muted tones, flowing pieces and a touch of lace. It suits Asher Keddie’s tall, willowy frame but it’s not for everyone. Perhaps you are more of a gypsy girl, loving bright colours, stacked bangles and a retro vibe. Maybe you can pull of an ethnic look with tribal inspired pieces. Or maybe you are more into the festival feel, with denim shorts, a beatnik top and flowers in your hair. It’s all boho and it’s all good. Work with what suits you.

Light-weight layers

The boho look relies on the tricky art of layering. The most important thing is that the layers don’t swamp you or make you look bigger than you are. Look for light-weight pieces in complimentary tones. I have a crochet vest that immediately gives a boho look and it’s a great piece to invest in if you like this kind of dressing. Remember to layer jewellery as well – which adds interest without bulk.

Similar tones

One of the arts of “throwing” something together is to carefully consider those pieces. While boho tends to look uncontrived, it’s usually anything but.  By choosing colours in a similar palette, with perhaps once accent colour, you add polish and avoid looking more hobo than boho. For instance, you could layer whites/creams and then add a pop of turquoise with a scarf or necklace.

Put something in your hair

A quick way to invoke a boho mood is to wear a scarf, hairband (low on the forehead), hair chain or flowers in your hair. Yes, this does take a little confidence to pull off, but I think you have it in you. Even a floppy hat can take you to that bohemian place.

Plan your outfit

Because boho often involves multiple pieces, it’s a good idea to plan and play before you commit to your outfit. Take a little time and play within your own wardrobe, mixing separates in ways you might not have before. Again, this is one of those looks that appears effortless yet takes considered effort to create.

I have a number of boho looks I love on this Pinterest Board.

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How do you wear boho?
Any tips for those wanting to adopt the look?

18 thoughts on “How to wear boho (and not look hobo)

    • Robyna says:

      Oh yes – I think you can definitely pull it off on a smaller frame but just with the right things (not necessarily Nina’s things)

  1. Karen says:

    Great tips! I think this is a style I would like to think is for me (I love seeing how some people wear this style – they look so gorgeous and carefree!) but deep down I know it is not really a style that suits me unfortunately!

    • Robyna says:

      Some trends are just like that – love the idea of them and they don’t love us back. But at least there is a wide variety of boho to choose from.

  2. Jan Wild says:

    This so isn’t me, much as I have tried and failed. I love boho but it doesn’t love me so boohoo rather than boho and back to the classics for me. You on the other hand look fabulous Robyna.

    • Robyna says:

      Isn’t it awful when that happens? I wish I could wear long, lustrous hair but it’s never worked on me. And you are very kind – thank you.

  3. Cat@lifethroughthehaze says:

    I LOVE the dress on the left! It looks sensational on you.
    I am trying the boho more this summer. I have decided that it is all about confidence. Because I think you and Nikki (and many others!) are just stunning and I see that I get compliments when I post pics of my outfits yet I don’t feel confident in them. So I have come to the conclusion that if we wear anything with confidence then it looks amazing!

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