Boho style is one of our all-time favorite aesthetics, but it can be tricky to pull off. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a simple, easy cheat sheet to help you nail bohemian style in a flash?
Thanks to the popularity of our previous Classic and Timeless Fashion Essentials list, we decided to expand the series further and cover a few more popular style aesthetics — so, we made a list for all you boho chic gals!
Even if you just consider yourself a “boho lite” or just slightly whimsical dresser, this list provides the must-haves for a boho chic look, AKA the essential pieces you need to maximize your wardrobe’s versatility. It’s just a starting point and, of course, your wardrobe will differ depending on your own personal style.
When you finish reading, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what items you have, which ones we may have forgotten, and your favorite ways to style these pieces!
Let’s jump right in to the boho style essentials:
1. A Maxi or Midi Skirt
A great maxi or midi skirt will be a piece that you turn to over and over again when crafting cool bohemian outfits.
The best maxi skirts are simple, with minimal patterns, and not too poofy, as they are the easiest to build outfits from.
- For a quick and comfortable outdoor ensemble, wear a maxi skirt with a solid-colored crop top and a (#7) floppy sun hat.
- Wear a simple maxi skirt with a graphic t-shirt or tank and a (#12) versatile vest. Finish with (#5) sandals and a top knot.
- Try wearing one with a button-down flannel or chambray top. Complete the look with canvas sneakers and bright lipstick.
2. Neutral-Colored Ankle Boots
Cute ankle booties are boho girl fashion staples, and luckily, they come in a million styles.
It’s up to you whether you want a tall heel or not, but no matter your preference, make sure the heel isn’t too high or skinny so your boots will stay comfortable while watching concerts or walking to class.
Here are some of my favorite ways to wear ankle boots:
- Wear ankle boots with flare leg jeans, a (#6) loose knit sweater, and a (#3) hippie headpiece for a look that’s ideal for class or a casual date.
- Ankle boots look awesome with dresses and skirts! Go for more fitted shoes when wearing maxi skirts, but the shorter the skirt, the clunkier you can make your shoes!
- I’m crazy about the fringed ankle boots I see all over Instagram. Those would look fab with a slit maxi skirt, off the shoulder top, and a bold (#10) stack of bracelets.
3. Chic Headwraps and Hairbands
Hippie babe Vanessa Hudgens might not have invented the headwrap, but she certainly helped boost its popularity!
I started out wearing thin hippie headbands, but have now graduated to bolder cloth styles. Bonus points for those of you bold enough to try a flower crown.
I love getting my headwraps on Amazon — you can get a six pack of patterned styles (above left) for just under $16!
Here are a few fun ways to wear them:
- Wrap headbands look great across your forehead, but I prefer to wear them back an inch or two past my hairline, almost like a halo. This is a good way to wear a headwrap if the elastic in it is too tight to comfortably wear across your forehead. Cloth styles look great like this too!
- Hairbands are a great way to add glamour and fashion to a bad-hair-day ponytail.
- Add texture to your hair before wearing — I’ve found that these wraps look best with curly, wavy, or textured hair rather than my natural pin-straight state. Try spritzing with salt spray and scrunching, or curling large sections before wearing.
4. A Unique Maxi Dress
We all owe a huge “thank you” to the 2000s era Olsens for making maxi dresses such a hot item. I love anything with a print or pattern, but lace detailing is gorgeous too. You just don’t want to go too basic. Look for geometric or nature-inspired prints for extra bonus points!
- Wear a printed maxi with (#10) chunky jewelry and wedge sandals for a perfect date night look.
- Try a (#12) denim vest with a printed maxi to make it a bit more casual.
- Add a (#6) distressed sweater to turn the dress into a skirt. Finish with (#2) ankle boots.
5. Leather (or Faux Leather) Sandals
Boho leather sandals are truly a godsend. They’re the perfect choice for any warm weather occasion — they’re summery and light, yet they still look polished and fashionable.
- Look for styles that are easy to slip on and off for maximum versatility. There’s nothing more annoying than a pair of shoes that take five minutes to get on and off!
- That said, strappy lace up sandals are a serious statement item — they look so amazing with denim shorts and flowy, off-the-shoulder tops.
- Birkenstocks are a boho classic — not only are they crazy comfortable, they last forever and get better with wear.
6. Slouchy Knit Cardigans and Sweaters
Cardigans and sweaters are a staple for any aesthetic, but for a bohemian flair, opt for lacy-knit, fringed, and somewhat slouchy versions.
These make great layering pieces, and are light enough to wear during the fall, winter, and spring. The other awesome thing about this item is that you can find a great version at almost any one of your favorite retailers.
Here’s a few ways I like to wear open-knit sweaters and cardigans:
- For a fast and easy outfit that would make Stevie Nicks jealous, try wearing a tank underneath an oversized crocheted sweater, along with a pair of (#13) bell bottoms and a high-heeled pair of (#2) ankle boots. Wear with a (#3) headwrap and a (#11) cross-body bag.
- Try wearing a chunky cardigan over a graphic tee and mini skirt for a chic, layered look. Pair with glitter tights, (#2) boots, and a (#7) wide brimmed hat.
- Wear a slouchy sweater off the shoulder with a cute bralette underneath. Then add ripped wide leg jeans, leather mules, and — in true boho style — (#14) giant sunglasses.
7. A Wide-Brim Hat and/or Fedora
My favorite place to buy boho style hats is Lulus’ hat section — they have a huge selection with tons of affordable options (most under $30)! In particular, I’m loving their basic black fedora (first image above) — it’s so chic and well-priced.
Pro tip: You don’t have to splurge on a wide brim hat — I’ve found that expensive versions don’t hold their shape much better than the inexpensive ones. This way, you can afford to buy a new one every season.
P.S.: felt hats are awesome for cold weather seasons!
- A simple straw sun hat paired with a sundress, (#5) sandals, and (#14) big sunglasses is the perfect summer outfit for fairs, strolls through the park, picnics, and more.
- A floppy brimmed felt hat adds the perfect bohemian flair to any fall or winter outfit. Try pairing one with ripped black skinny jeans, a slouchy (#6) sweater, and pointed toe mules.
- Throw one on with a pair of mom jeans, a long cardigan, a white tee, and (#5) Birks and call it a day.
8. Crop Tops and/or Breezy, Loose Tanks
Breezy, strappy, effortless little tops are one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of bohemian style.
While cute little crop tops are crazy trendy right now, comfy, loose cami tanks (see the peplum cami, above) are an extremely cute alternative if you prefer more midsection coverage. The look is just about something that’s breezy and effortless — a top that would look at home on a beach somewhere.
Embroidered tops are great for this also! Try checking at any vintage or retro stores in your area for whimsical originals.
- If bold patterns or embroidery are too loud for your taste, go for a basic white crop top or tank. Add frayed denim cutoffs and a (#6) slouchy cardigan and you’re good to go.
- These tops will forever look awesome with a pair of (#13) flared jeans, platform sandals, and (#10) earthy jewelry.
- Wear your favorite little tops with a maxi skirt, a (#15) scarf, a pair of (#5) sandals, and some (#14) huge sunglasses.
- These tops are just begging to be paired with layered gold jewelry and a (faux) tan in the summer months.
9. Colorful, Eye-Catching Prints
To help add a free-spirited, worldly edge to your wardrobe, nothing can replace the rich look of a bold, colorful printed item.
This category spans all items and price points, so think carefully about what piece you’ll wear most and how much you’re willing to spend before taking the plunge!
- Pair a boldly printed wrap maxi dress with a (#7) wide brim fedora, strappy sandals, and a few layered necklaces for an effortless summer look.
- Printed kimono-style cover-ups are back with a vengeance, and I loves ones with quirky prints. Wear one over ripped mom jeans and a (#8) cute little crop top.
- Take a tip from your favorite TikTok stars and try a tie-dye maxi dress. Tie dye print is so boho chic! Your dress will look fantastic with platform sandals and (#10) huge sunglasses.
10. Eclectic, Layered Jewelry
When it comes to bohemian jewelry, the more unique, the better. And don’t be scared to layer it on!
Anything goes here: Look for original finds at the flea market, incense stores, Etsy, or even make some jewelry of your own! The key is to find pieces that are unique and quirky. Even better if you can find ones that incorporate natural elements like wood, coral, turquoise, stone, or suede.
Generally, you see boho babes in gold tone jewelry but this isn’t a hard and fast rule — if silver’s your thing, rock it.
- Boho babe Lisa Bonet is a big fan of statement earrings. My favorite styles are oversized hoops and acrylic geometric shapes. Chunky hoops are really big right now, too.
- A layered necklace is another great statement piece that easily adds style to an otherwise bland outfit. Look for pieces that come with multiple layered necklaces all attached to make this super easy — and tangle-free.
- Beaded bracelets in both gold and colors will always be in style and will add so much to a simple cutoffs-and-sweater ensemble. In fact, wear them with everything and layer them up.
11. A Hippie-Chic Purse
Whether you prefer distressed leather or cloth, fringe or suede, a tiny cross-body or an oversized hobo bag, having a reliable and fantastic bohemian purse is key to tying your outfit all together.
- Cross-body bags are awesome because they keep your hands free. This is especially useful at concerts or festivals! A cute, fringy, small- to medium-sized bag would be perfect for this. I also love neutral tones in general for these — browns, tans, and beiges are so pretty!
- Another huge trend with the boho crowd is those trendy rattan circle-shaped bags. These can be found everywhere and are a great way to incorporate some earthiness into your look.
- The good ol’ canvas sling bag is and always will be a staple for earthy girls. It’s another way to incorporate a bright, bold print into a simple outfit.
12. A Versatile Vest
Vests are awesome because they add pizzazz to so many different pieces in your closet.
Try them with floral minidresses, simple maxi dresses, or even a plain t-shirt and cutoffs. The combinations are endless!
- Denim vests look fantastic with pretty much everything in your closet. Try one with a plain v-neck t-shirt, a maxi skirt, and sandals. Finish with a (#3) hippie headwrap.
- I also love the boho chic vibe of a crocheted vest. Try wearing one with a floral dress, or a pair of (#13) flared jeans and a tank.
- Fringe vests, although very hippie-chic, can also come across as costume-y when paired with too many other boho items. To keep from looking over-the-top, wear a fringe vest with a little black dress, or skinny jeans and a tee.
13. Flared Jeans
Remember your favorite jeans circa 2004? Mine are way past the point of ever fitting me again, but a few years ago, I couldn’t help but lust after the long, lean legs and perky butt that flared jeans seemed to give me!
- Flared denim has a way of making certain pairs of shoes look fantastic. My favorite thing to wear with bell bottoms is a pair of high heeled boots. Bell bottoms also look fab with platform sandals, (#5) flat sandals, or wedges.
- Pair flared jeans with a (#6) crocheted sweater and a big, colorful (#15) scarf. Finish with a top knot and a (#14) huge pair of sunnies.
- Maybe this is in bad taste, but I’ll go ahead and admit it — I sometimes love the look of wearing dresses with jeans! The key to making it look cool and not frumpy is to wear very short tunic-length dresses that aren’t too poofy at the hem. Finish the outfit with platform sandals and a (#11) boho cross-body bag.
14. Big Sunglasses
Oversized sunglasses transcended boho girls and became a huge fashion trend a few years back. Although mainstream styles have branched out from the oversized look, they’re still a bohemian style staple.
Other pieces that count as boho style sunglasses are ’70s John Lennon glasses and funky cat-eye styles. So pick your favorite and rock them!
I tend to break, scratch, and lose sunglasses, so I typically just get inexpensive pairs from Amazon.
- Is there anything more chic than a messy bun, bright lipstick, and a pair of huge sunglasses? I love how model-off-duty cool this look seems to be.
- If big round styles aren’t up your alley, go for cat-eye sunglasses, aviators, or wayfarer styles. The point is that they’re quirky, so the shape is negotiable.
- For a very hippie look, try John Lennon-esque round wire sunglasses. They’re bold and will definitely make a statement.
15. Oversized, Patterned Scarves
This is one of the most important items on this list — if you want boho style, you need it. A big, oversized, patterned scarf is essential to taking any outfit and giving it an extra laid-back, earthy, chill boost.
I buy mine on Amazon because I like to have several inexpensive ones to choose from, but designer scarves also make fantastic investment pieces.
- For a cool Stevie Nicks sort of vibe, wrap a pashmina around your shoulders, along with a (#1) maxi skirt and a (#6) loose knit sweater. Finish with (#2) ankle boots and a (#3) headwrap.
- A plain white t-shirt, ripped jeans, and pair of casual canvas sneakers will look instantly cool with an oversized scarf. Finish with (#10) layered jewelry and a (#11) hobo bag.
- There’s tons of ways that you can fold, tie, or pin large scarves to make other pieces. Tie one into a halter and pair with (#13) flared jeans for a music festival. Wrap one around your waist as a belt. Tie one to the handle of your (#11) hippie purse. The options are endless.
Even More Style Guides:
Boho chic not your thing? Check out our other style guides to find the must-have pieces for YOUR aesthetic.
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Preppy, Girly, and Sophisticated Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Street Chic Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Classic and Timeless Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for an Edgy, Rocker-Chic Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for an Electro-Urban Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Casual, Androgynous-Chic Style
What Do You Think of Our Boho Style Guide?
Do you have boho style? What pieces out of these do you own? Are there any essentials that we forgot? What do you think of bohemian fashion? What other must-have list styles would you like to see CF cover? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2013; it was completely revamped in 2020 with updated items and tips.