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Boho Hippie Clothing: A Love Letter to Johnny Was with 8 Fashion Tips

read about boho style in open letter to johnny was

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

Dear Johnny,

I love your boho chic clothes and I’m your biggest fan, however there are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to tell you. Okay, I know you have an amazingly successful company, and I’m just a fashion blogger with a small following of style-starved women over 50, but you would make me the happiest old hippie chick on the West Coast if you would listen to my ideas with an open mind.

read about insanely beautiful clothing plus size

Johnny Was' Beautiful Embroidery

Johnny… I know your name is really Eli... but most women and the Google-keyword coders) don’t really care who you are. So, I hope you will not be offended if I continue calling you Johnny, even though we’ve never met and we’re certainly not on a first-name basis.

This post is simply an open letter to you and your fashion designers, because there are a couple of things I’ve noticed as I’ve wandered around your website looking for new boho basics that want to come live in my happy little closet.

All women love boho chic clothing.

Boho Chic Fashion for Real Women:

Johnny, I love the fact that your cuts are generous, your shapes are made to fit real women, and your sizes are consistent. I know I’m always a size L in Johnny Was, so it’s very easy for me to shop online for boho tunics, dresses, and skirts.

… and, even though I’m a size large, I’m happy to report I can sometimes get away with ordering an XL or 1X. I can even wear your size medium if the cut is right or the fabric has stretch.

Boho Hippie Clothing for Real Women Over 40, 50, 60:

I love your clothes, but women come in different shapes and sizes, and we all have different needs, so I just want to run some ideas by you. And, I always admit up front that my suggestions are skewed towards what looks good on older women (especially those with apple-shaped bodies), but there are quite a few of us.

Anyway, here are 8 tips I think you should consider:

Tip 1. More Jewel Tone Colors:

Let’s take a look at what sells out on your site. Bright and vibrant jewel tones usually disappear before other colors do, leaving mostly off-whites and muted pastels in my size. Well, I don’t look good in pale colors, even in summer.

Your fall line seems to have more hues I can wear, but I would love to always find more of your deep, intense colors like Blue Topaz, Mulberry, Lava red, Deep Dawn blue, Pinkberry, Wild Cherry, Raisin brown, and Precious Emera teal. I know many older women look good in subdued colors like Armor gray and Rose Quartz pink, but I am not one of them.

Johnny, I know you understand that women over 40 don’t want candy brights or colors that wash them out, but your beautifully intense colors seem to sell out before I get to see them. And, I can’t go to your site too often because I’d be broke.

read my open letter to a boho fashion designer at boomerinas.com

Mexican Folk Embroidery Top

Tip 2. Johnny Was T-Shirts with Folk Embroidery:

I wish Johnny Was offered more long, tunic-length tees with that colorfully cool embroidery. I have one of your T-shirts and I’m worried I’m going to wear it out. (Sometimes, a cotton tee is more appropriate than a silk or georgette top.)

Johnny, your beautiful boho T-shirts are cheaper than most of your other tops, so you should think of your tees as a good way to get new women hooked on your gorgeous folkloric embroidery.

*Note: I usually avoid tees with big panels of densely embroidered patterns. Heavily embroidered sections change the drape and reduce the stretch of the area, so those tees either fit or they don’t. Maybe those tops look better on flat-chested chicks, but I have found that T-shirts with spacing between the designs, such as traditional Mexicana patterns (like the one in the photo above - yes, that's snow), are easier to wear. I do, however, love densely embroidered panels on rayon georgette.

Tip 3. Short Sleeves Suck:

I can’t wear short sleeves. Short sleeves make my upper arms look fat. (Well, being fat makes my upper arms look fat, but you know what I mean.)

Apple shapes and busty women almost always look better in tops with short kimono sleeves (or tops without sleeves) than they do in tops with regular short sleeves. T-shirts are the only short-sleeved tops I wear.

Tip 4. No Tight Waists on Dresses:

I realize you are designing for two markets: younger bohemian chicks and older (former) hippie chicks. However, many women come to my site to read tips on how to dress an apple-shaped body, and I often tell them to try your tunic tops. Women with tummies are the orphans of the fashion world, so don’t make us cry by showing us gorgeous dresses designed with tightly fitted waists.

read about johnny was boho outfits and fashion tips

Boho Outfits for Summer

Tip 5. Deep Vee Necklines:

Many of us older chicks like slightly lower necklines, such as, deep V and deep U necklines. It’s not that we want to show the world our cleavage; it’s just that many of us find lower necklines easier to wear and more flattering. Mix it up… give us lots of deep necklines.

Tip 6. Long Johnny Was Scarves:

I love your silk scarves, but I wish you would take some of those beautiful prints and put them on long, rectangular scarves. I like to wrap my fat little neck several times.

You can still add the tassels… but long, rectangular scarves make my fat little neck look longer… and long, rectangular scarves have a lovely versatility that’s sometimes lacking in square scarves.

read about boho chic

Boho Embroidered Clothing UK

Tip 7. Johnny Was Winter Coats:

Once upon a time, I found a beautiful wool coat on your site. It was a military style with colorful (floral, Russian?) embroidery on the collar and the cuffs… and maybe other places like the hem and down the front. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered that coat, you only had it in size XL. I had to send the coat back because it was so large that cold air would have come in.

Johnny dearest, we don’t all live in Southern California. Some of us live in crazy places like the high deserts of Oregon, Colorado, or New Mexico. We live in places with snow. Other women have to brave the chilling winds of NYC but still love the beautiful bohemian look of folk embroidery.

I would LOVE to see Johnny Was come out with an upscale division of mid-priced wool coats. (Think less expensive versions of the embellished wool coats of Stella McCartney and Chloe… in regular, as well, as larger sizes!) Your embroidery designs on your cotton coats are more beautiful and more flattering than the embellishments on most high-end coats. And, $4000 is just too much for a coat. Real women like good design as much as anyone does, but we know we can’t expect the same execution of detail.

read about boho

Cute Boho Jacket from UK

Johnny, please consider adding a line of “real” winter coats and jackets for those of us stuck in the “wild and wooly” parts of the country. It seems silly to have to go to Europe to get an embellished boiled-wool jacket made to fit a normal-sized body.

Of course, I think your Johnny Was Winter division should also include wool sweaters (possibly like Ivko, but also in larger sizes like Joe Browns) and wool scarves, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

Tip 8. Johnny Was Handbags With Zippers:

Johnny, you need to put zippers (or include zippered compartments) in your embroidered crossbody bags. Read this article about the best travel bags if you don’t know why. I’m sure the Chinese know how to add zippers inexpensively, and most women would pay slightly more to have peace of mind when it comes to their wallets.

You don’t know how many times I’ve lusted after those bags. I hope you’ll add zippers to your next batch.

Johnny Was Boho Clothing Rocks!

Dear Johnny, I pretty much love everything you’re doing… so don’t listen to my ideas if you think I’m wrong. However, if you don’t listen to my ideas, I know there are people in China who will. I’m no fashion expert, but clothing manufacturers seem to understand that I speak for a large, underserved group of baby boomer women who aren’t quite ready to give up on the possibility of finding cute, flattering clothing that fits our bodies.

There are a lot of boomers. We have a lot of money (collectively). We are spoiled brats and we want our Mtv… I mean our fashion fix.

More Articles for Chic Boomer Women Over 40, 50, 60:

Embroidered Boho Tops, Dresses & More

Folk Fashion Trend in Plus Sizes: Vintage Styles for Modern Women

Apple Shaped Women: 31 Rules for Your Body Type

read about boho clothing older women

Main Photo: Tina Boomerina

Photo Credits: Tina Boomerina and Prshots.com.

  • Main Photo: Tina Boomerina in Boho Outfits from Johnny Was, etc.
  • Johnny Was' Beautiful Embroidery: Tina Boomerina showing how JW boho clothing mixes and matches beautifully.
  • Mexican Folk Embroidery Top: Example of my favorite type of placement pattern.
  • Boho Outfits for Summer: Tina Boomerina wearing Johnny Was last summer. (It got too cold and dark to continue yesterday's photo shoot with the impatient Mr. Boomerina. All of the snow photos came out in shadow. I just learned about lighting "levels" in Photoshop.)
  • Boho Embroidered Clothing UK: Jacket from Asos.com (current), coat from Monsoon (2014). Not from Johnny Was. Just want to show you cute things that could be done with wool coats.
  • Cute Boho Jacket from UK: River Island jean jacket 2016.
  • (My photos are easier to see on Pinterest.)

What do you think of this article? Leave a message, especially if you have ideas for fashion designers and manufacturers of clothing for immature "mature" women. I'll approve your comment shortly... I'm almost caught up! You can leave messages once again.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

Follow Me on Pinterest Follow My Boomer Lifestyle Blog on facebook

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  1. Karen

    Sing it, sister!

    You look Fab in those photos.

    Probably my favorite Johnny Was color of all time was this deep purplish color they did (I forget the name) but every time I've seen that color the style has sold VERY well.

    I normally wouldn't go near purple but their purple was PERFECT.

    Hope you are well Tina and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Tina-Boomerina


      You're way too kind. I might look better if I paid for a real photographer who used studio lights... but I'm way too cheap for that. Maybe someday...

      And, I know what you mean about purple. I happen to look good in almost every purple under the sun, so I have been known to wear my purple a little too loudly from time to time... especially for someone who purports to have reasonably good taste.

      However, the Johnny Was' purples are always elegantly muted. I think the purple you mention tends a bit towards deep brownish gray.

      NOTE: I was NOT planning to wear the bright t-shirt or use the summertime pics for this article, but ALL of the photos came out absolutely black (and underexposed) due to the reflected light from the bright snow. I could not save the photos of my favorite outfits... even with massive and time-consuming tweaks in Photoshop. And, it's not always easy to get a husband to take more pics.

      So, thanks. You've made me feel better about using these photos.


  2. Nancy Dahl

    How I love to see you model your Boho looks . Then I get an idea of how the embroidered things look on someone Like me. Not a thin, cutie under twenty girl.

    I need to work up the courage to wear some real colors, instead of gray and black.

    You look wonderful and healthy. Resolved: I will wear my felt rust hat today. I bought scarves to go with it so I will have fun shopping.
    Thank you again for some new ideas!

  3. katy-jean at keeknits

    Hi its me again thanking you for your uplifting articles!!! Okay I don't want you to take this the wrong way, I am not trying to be critical, I am just thinking it may help, but an embroidery hoop and floss with needle in hand might help you liven up some of the blouses that you find lacking???? I know you shouldn't have too but maybe Johnny might be just a dumb man with selective hearing (got one of those) who just is not down with us older chicks who know what was beautiful in the 60's and the 70's!!! Its so easy to do especially now in this day and age with all the technology that we didn't have way back then when we were making our own jean skirts and pocket books and embroidering everything! We made the look that your looking for, our generation did!!! Just saying your not to old!!

  4. Kay Kerns

    HI Tina! How are you doing? What beautiful clothes! Love all of it. I prefer the deeper colors too. Unless it's so hot that I have to wear light colors just to stay cool. We are in a motel in Chandler now, waiting for Marvin's tribe to give us an address on his land so we can get some utilities hooked up and maybe a trailer. Otherwise it's going to be camping there in a tent soon. Miss talking to you online, hope you are well. Are you still painting? Hugs, Kay

  5. Cecilia

    Johnny Was clothing is beautiful. A little too pricey for me, though - I find myself scrolling through Penneys and Kohls websites trying to find nice things. And thrift shops sometimes have some good vintage clothing, although people seem to be holding onto their clothing more these days, probably because of the recession.

  6. N. Berg

    Lovely, informative site!