Part Two of Boho My Way
I have copied and pasted the guidelines from Kibbe's book, found on the yuku.com site, and for this post am focusing on the top half of me, and interpreting it to suit my casual and boho style. Kibbe's words are in bold.
Soft draped necklines may be high or plunging. Lavish trim (beading, applique, oversized bows, and jabots, deep and soft pleats or folds.)
For me, high necks and detail are not flattering, but I prefer a low neck with some embroidery around it or beading would be a better replacement for the necklace. Beading, applique and soft draped necklines can definitely all look boho. The addition of a scarf can be quite a good boho touch and it also adds that soft drape to the neckline of an otherwise plain top.
Jackets: Broad shoulders, long lines, mid-thigh area. Lightweight, draped fabrics. Lightly structured or unconstructed. Soft draped detail (lapels, pockets)
This description screams eighties. Jacket length and style is quite trend driven and wearing something outdated can make you look outdated unless you look vintage and then it's good. I don't wear jackets normally, except for the outerwear type and prefer cardigans. Kibbe advises against cardigans but I get the impression he has a certain image of a cardigan as preppy or classic. The waterfall style is often suggested as soft dramatic but I've found that not just any waterfall type works for me. Too much bulk at the front isn't a good idea for a busty woman and I don't like the ones that are longer in front than in back. I would look for more side draping, length and a very light weight. Similar properties in a knit or crochet vest would be nicely boho-dramatic.
Blouses should be soft and draped with broad shoulders and draped necklines and sleeves. Detail should be elongated and soft. Ornate detail should be very oversized and lush (large bows, or jabots, sheer lacy trim or sparkly applique) Fabrics should be lightweight, very soft, or very shiny.
Ahh the era of the shoulder pad. I must admit that a small shoulder pad flatters me as I am not broad in the shoulders and the idea dramatic silhouette is a bit T shaped. Shoulder pads are also trend driven and I haven't seen then in new blouses or jackets since 1989. I love the draping, softness and lightweight fabrics, some lace or sheerness is good, as are appliques and beading so long as it's not sparkly. I really don't like to sparkle. Bows and jabots are out. While it says that ornate detail should be large, it does not say I have to have it.
Avoid: Sharply tailored blouses. Plain blouses. Delicate, fussy blouses. Wide, unconstructed or shapeless blouses.
Interpretation is tricky. I know a plain blouse or a wide, unconstructed or shapeless blouse when I see one but what defines delicate and fussy? My guess is that high necked victorian style blouse might qualify, with small ruffles and frills. I loved those in the eighties and probably looked awful in them.
This probably qualifies as delicate and fussy. It's quite beautiful but I can see how I would look silly in it. It is probably for a romantic gamine type, or possibly soft classic.
This beautiful way out of my price range blouse is probably Soft Dramatic.
Sweaters: Soft and clingy knits with draped necklines. Plush knits. Draped knits. Broad shoulders and an elongated waist. Oversized patterns or trim, especially ornate or sparkly.
Oh Mr. Kibbe, there you go again with the sparkles. Not for me. But I do love soft and draped. Like this, which is my ideal except it is black. You can see I shy away from the embellishments, but I would add my own with a scarf and earrings. An ornate sweater is not my idea of daily wear. I would even consider a longer camisole under it, as it's clearly rather sheer and I'd like a bit of lace or silk detail at the bottom. This gets a bit more romantic boho rather than earth mother boho.
Avoid: Rough and heavy knits. Skinny, ribbed knits. Short styles, including crewnecked, shetlands, cardigans, and cropped sweaters. Wide, unconstructed styles. Overly delicate, fussy trim. Overly fitted styles.
I instinctively avoid fussy sweaters, but I've experimented with heavy knits, ribbed knits and crew necks enough to know they don't work for me. I've tried cropped and bolero type cardigans and they tend to look wrong too. I think I might be partial to the half tuck with tops because it creates that asymmetrical line that seems to be so important.
Short skirts (knee length) may be paired with a long jacket, sweater or top. Detail should be elongated (shirring, soft folds and slits)
I've always loved the long over short silhouette and would particularly like it with tall boots. This look would be almost too formal for my lifestyle though so I haven't quite pulled it together. I can't justify spending the money on the boots if I wouldn't wear them except with this look.
I am also not sure how to pair a draped style skirt with a draping top and not get lumps. I would think the skirt should be smooth and relatively unobtrusive. A supporting player in the outfit.
I don't see any mention of longer skirts, and it's possible that the longer skirts I favour belong to another category but others around the internet seem to also interpret a skirt like this one as being Soft Dramatic as it has soft pleats and a definite feeling of soft draping against the body. I would not pair it with a blouse but with a tunic or light knit that also drapes and use an analogous colour to give more of a dress-like effect. Not that I'm any sort of style expert.
Avoid: Full skirts except on certain dresses (see dress category). Wide unconstructed skirts. A-lines and sharp pleats. Overly fussy and fitted skirts with delicate detail (gathers, tucks, etc.; plackets, etc.)
I have definitely noticed I do not pull off full skirts well. I believe I pull off long skirts with gores, godets and pleats which give movement but am not certain if Kibbe would consider those Soft Dramatic. The cinched waist and full skirt doesn't work but a slightly full skirt can work in a dress because the dress gives the look of one long and continuous line. The dress should skim or suggest the waist but not emphasise it. Of the two dresses I own I am not certain how Soft Dramatic they are, but I am not wearing them much anyhow.
Dresses: Dresses should be elongated and draped, with broad shoulders. Detail should be oversized and ornate (shirring, trim, etc.) A dropped waist is best on dresses, but an exaggerated waist is also effective when combined with very broad shoulders and a full, sweeping skirt. Narrow, clingy shapes are basic.
Avoid: Sharply tailored dresses. Shapeless, unconstructed or wide styles. Flouncy styles with delicate or fussy detail. Overly fitted and nipped styles.
I am not clear on the difference between an exaggerated waist and a fitted, nipped waist but I do know that a nipped waist and full skirt does not work for me.
I think we are looking at the difference between this...
I would defiitely suit the former dress and not the latter. I don't wear evening wear so won't include his recommendations for that.
Pants should be straight, long and draped. Detail should be soft and elongated (deep pleats, shirring, softly draped)
At the point Kibbe wrote his book flares, bell bottoms and boot cuts had gone out of favour but they seem to actually quite suit the Soft Dramatic look as well as all of the Naturals. It's as though everything a Soft Dramatic wears should flow downwards and then outwards but very softly, so that it drapes against the body, and although denim is stiffer, this effect can still be achieved with boot cut jeans.
While I love a pair of high waisted, soft, draped pants with a full leg, getting those to fit me properly is pretty much impossible so I don't own any. I would also consider them more appropriate as career wear and not something I need.
Avoid stiffly tailored pants. Wide, unconstructed or baggy shapes. Overly delicate detail (pegged legs, fussy gathers, small trim, etc.)
Yup, experience tells me this type does not work for me.
While there is a suggestion of elegance and formality to the Soft Dramatic style I think they can be interpreted to a version of boho that I am quite comfortable with. Incidently the large, floppy hat favoured by boho-chic women is definitely the type of hat Kibbe recommends. I don't wear that type and tend to favour a newsboy, or a smaller and stiffer brim like a fedora. I think drama is the key idea so perhaps I can get away with that and still make it work even if it is borrowing from another type.
Boho style has room for variety and personal expression and if it is going to be true to its roots in Bohemian style attitudes it should simply be about eschewing convention whatever that happens to be at the time. That's why I think anyone adopting boho style must make it their own and not follow a formula too closely. Be inspired, but do it your way. What I like about boho style is the loose, draped, easy vibe, earthy colours and ornate jewelry and some embellishments like beading, embroidery and applique. Those elements are suited to the Soft Dramatic look, colours excepted. Making my interpretation of Soft Dramatic casual and jeans based, makes it look all the more boho. Soft Dramatic style is dramatic with a touch of romantic and it's the romantic element that brings the boho.
Other Kibbe styles that work well for boho are Soft Natural and Flamboyant natural and I spent some time thinking I might possibly be one of those before finally narrowing it down to Soft Dramatic based on the descriptions of bone structure, flesh and face.
In Part Three I will explore the details -makeup, colours, accessories.