Having lived on the east coast all of my life, there was only one city that exemplified the ultimate in fashion style-New York City. Anyone who has ever walked Fifth Avenue can't help but feel the exhilaration that comes from peering into the store windows. Saks, Bergdorf Goodman's, Barneys-they offer the latest in upscale fashion trends.
Two years ago I relocated to the west coast where I am now living in a major city, with ideal weather, an overwhelming fashion retail scene and an entertainment culture that doesn't just exist here-it was born here. There is no typical "LA look." The style in Los Angeles is like looking through a kaleidoscope. It is colorful, eclectic and very often somewhat shocking and puzzling to the onlooker.
The vibe in LA fashion is very casual. It is not uncommon to dine in an upscale restaurant wearing jeans, a T-shirt and boots. There is no template to which people adhere-just a strong sense of creative self-expression.
One style that is most commonly associated with LA is bohemian or "boho." In the fashion world bohemian is referred to as a state of mind regarding fashion that is individual, romantic and free spirited. This style is often called hippie-chic or even hobo-chic. Many celebrities have had a major influence on bohemian style in recent years-Kate Hudson, Sienna Miller, Nicole Richie, Kate Moss and Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen.
Boho-chic doesn't mean flowy peasant skirts, flip flops, and messenger bags. An important aspect of bohemian style is individuality-embracing your own personality and expressing it through fashion choices. It's about following your own inspiration.
LA girls (and women) have perfected the way to wear the style including sophisticated fashion forward elements. Nowhere else does the eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary fashion work so well. In part, this is due to the laid-back nature that permeates the city but also because of the hippie and musician culture that was based in the colorful canyon neighborhoods in the 1960s.
A drive through Laurel Canyon conjures the ghosts of the musicians and artists who made a lasting mark on local style and culture. Today we still see fringe hanging off slouchy suede bags and flare-leg, form-hugging jeans, and ankle-grazing maxi-length dresses. There are still the resurrected remains of tie-dye and paisley prints that were stocked and sold as piece goods by local merchants.
Boho-style remains as one of the most romanticized and emulated forces in fashion. In recent seasons we have seen a bohemian influence in the collections of well-known designers-Stella McCartney, Anna Sui and Roberto Cavalli.
For those who want to achieve a boho style of dressing look for loose and breezy shapes done in earth tones. A long floral dress can be cinched with a worn-in leather belt. Add a signature pop of natural color like a vibrant turquoise ring. Just one or two pieces paired with everyday basics bring the boho look front and center.
An airy ethnic-print top pairs well with jeans-flare leg or bell bottoms are a casual boho staple. Moccasins or ankle strap wedges are a great shoe option to complete the look. Rachel Zoe (celebrity stylist) does it right by topping a relaxed look off with a floppy, wide brim hat.
Until the '60s, it was a fashion faux pas to dress outrageously. This decade became the turning point in fashion history when people could wear clothing that reflected their personal style. It marked the birth of a trendy style that networked out from the west coast. The boho style of dressing can be adapted to women of any age. Try a little freedom in your fashion style-try a little boho!
OnTrend is a fashion column written by Jacquie Bennett, formerly of Milroy, who now writes from her home in California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at www.glitzglamourstyle.com.