How the round top inspired the “Texas Boho” style – Texas Monthly
You’ve probably seen her by now: the Texas boho woman. Her style, as the name suggests, is part western clothing, part bohemian. She’s a bit of country, a bit of rock ‘n’ roll – Dolly and Stevie’s love child. Your look starts with the staples: denim, turquoise jewelry and cowboy boots. Then come the individual accents to mix and match: rhinestones, animal prints, leather, suede, lace, fringes, chevrons, crosses, cow skulls, bandanas or scarves, hats in different shapes and sizes and expressive T-shirts, the “Wanderlust and Rodeo Dust ”,“ Ride More, Worry Less ”and“ Kiss My ”over a picture of a donkey.
The Texan boho style seems to resonate with a certain type of woman – she borders the west, but doesn’t actually abseil and ride (and if she does is Ropes and horseback riding, there’s a lot more to their identity than Wrangler and Seiler). She has self-diagnosed her own wanderlust and considers herself a dreamer. The look is hyper-feminine, a sartorial cousin of the exaggerated, tall-haired, blonde stereotype of Dallas. Texas boho is more than a style; It’s a mood – one of pride, independence, and strength in femininity. It is expressed by those for whom cheek and boldness are the birthright and subtlety is a yawning.
Although Texas boho women live across the state, many of them gather in the small town of Round Top every spring and fall for the world-famous antique fair. Round Top is also home to Junk Gypsy, the shop and progenitor of Texan boho, all year round.
“People always asked, ‘What’s your style – is it shabby chic? Is it western? ‘ “Says Amie Sikes, who founded Junk Gypsy with her sister Jolie. “We always said, ‘This is Texas.’ ”
The Fall Original Round Top Antiques Fair is now running through October 30th. During the spring edition in March and April, Junk Gypsy was full despite the pandemic. Shoppers looked at dip-dyed slip dresses, silk scarves, loads of jewelry, and chunky belt buckles labeled “Junk Gypsy” and “Mama Tried”. They looked at candles, bath products, home accessories, blankets and distressed furniture. Twice I heard Jolie Sike’s disappointed customers say: “Sorry, this is sold out.” A huge neon crown hung over the buyers like a moon. The sisters are the queens of this style. Amie and Jolie Sykes grew up in Overton, a “one-light town” in east Texas, which they refer to as “our little Mayberry” on the Junk Gypsy website. They had “grown up a bit as a cowgirl, but not quite,” recalls Amie. “We didn’t do rodeos, but we had horses. . . We just felt there were so many different things that contributed to our personal style. ”In Texas A&M, where both sisters went to college, neither felt comfortable in the rodeo nor in the big cities. They preferred to put looks together from frugal found pieces and incorporate elements that were country (but not entirely western) and free spirited (but not entirely hippie). In 1998 they decided to make their style marketable. British-born “shabby chic” was on the rise at the time, but the Sikes sisters did something different, swapping the English countryside for the Texas ranch and adding color to the pale, romantic aesthetic. At markets and fairs across the state, they sold flea market finds, vintage or reused furniture, and T-shirts of their own design, including one that read, “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” a lesser-known quote of the time. Within three years of starting their business, the sisters were on the Today’s show and in Small business fortune. They designed Miranda Lambert’s tour bus and then a wedding reception for the country star’s wedding to Blake Shelton. HGTV called, and the nation soon tuned in to see the sisters renovate Texan homes in their then-novel, hard-to-categorize style.
The Sikes style had staying power, perhaps because of the sisters’ ability to adapt to new flea market finds. Their decision to open an almost 800 square meter headquarters in Round Top, the flea market Mecca, in 2013 cannot have hurt either. An estimated 100,000 people descend on Round Top in the spring and fall, and Gypsyville, as the sisters call their grounds, is now a stand-alone destination with a junk-o-rama prom (canceled in the past two years due to the pandemic) and live – Performances on the veranda corresponding to the antiques fair. In 2018, Amie and Jolie opened the Wander Inn on the property behind the store, creating a mecca for their pilgrims. Her latest project: a range of wanderlust road trip paraphernalia available at Buc-ee gas stations.
As Junk Gypsy became popular, its style, like so many bluebonnet seeds, spread to other women who opened their own boutiques. Gypsy Pearl sells cheetah and cow prints in Fredericksburg, Fort Worth’s Hippie Cowgirl Couture offers lots of turquoise and the Dirty Bohemian – also in a round top – offers reconditioned pearl buttons and plaid. “Some of my biggest influences are definitely the junk gypsies,” says Megan Smith, owner of Sookie Sookie, a turquoise jewelry brand and boutique that shows up at events across Texas. Smith, whose grandparents worked cattle and whose father is a taxidermist, says she sometimes felt like an outsider as an artist in the family. She felt an affinity for the aesthetics of the Sikes sisters.
But Amie and Jolie Sikes are the first to say the soul of what they do goes back to 1968 when Emma Lee Turney founded the Round Top Antiques Fair. Today an international attraction, the event was then mainly a destination for celebrities from Houston who rode into the country in cowboy boots and mink coats. The mix of highs and lows – Turney, who died in March of that year, named a 1998 book on the history of the antique exhibition Denim and diamonds– provided the #inspiration of the ancestors for a new style.
“It started in 1968 and we are still doing it. We still do denim with rhinestones or a sequin jacket, ”says Amie. That eclecticism – a little bit of it, a little bit of it – is a defining element of the genre, the germ of the maximalist slant of Texas Boho and its inherent individualism. It is also a reflection of the state that produced it. “Texas is so much bigger than just that one style,” says Amie.
The state is a hybrid; not completely south in the style of Georgia or the Carolinas, but also not completely west. Elements of Texas Boho are reminiscent of the various influences of Texas: the serapes and the turquoise jewelry are reminiscent of West Texas and our neighbors Mexico and New Mexico; Distressed band t-shirts and free spirited soul talk evoke the cosmic cowboys and musical heritage of 1970s Austins; Rodeos and ranching are reflected in denim, wide-brimmed hats, leather and cow print; and the prints and colors – loud, sometimes even gauche – point again to this loud, proud archetype of the Texan woman.
“Texas girls say, ‘We’re westerns, we’re from Texas and we wear whatever we want to wear,'” says Gabrielle Sage, Instagram western fashion influencer and Junk Gypsy intern. “It affects other people in such a way that they say, ‘Wear what you want. Be loud, wear all of the prints if you want to wear all of the prints, or wear all black if you feel like it. ‘ ”
Texas Boho has also evolved to blend elements of the state’s rural and urban identities, reflecting that the Texas Boho woman is just as likely to live in a large metropolis as it is in a small town. “People fall in love with Western fashion who don’t live a Western lifestyle,” says Sage. “I don’t work with cows. I don’t live on a ranch, but I love western fashion. ”Boutiques like Good Babes in Rockdale and Western Gringa in Leakey embody more modern sensibilities. The former includes cleaner lines and less busy prints and colors, while the latter pushes forward an urban black and white palette with bolder fonts. At the same time, urban aesthetes continue to prefer a western look that started out in mainstream circles last year when shine declared the western trend to be “alive and well”. Large retailers like Old Navy, Everlane, Forever 21 and DSW offer cowboy-style boots and western-inspired shirts. Urban Outfitters and Reformation are now selling “cowboy” jeans, and cow print, which is somewhat unusual in an urban context, can be bought in the form of a dress, pants or clog.
In an era of infinite minimalism and homogeneity in fashion and interior design, Texas Boho not only survived but thrived, making its way into the mainstream and influencers who may never have had a reason to see a cow in the IRL. The Good Babes and Western Gringa are both sold internationally, with large audiences in Canada and Australia. But of course it’s not about the state in which the clothes are worn. When you wear Texas boho, with wild silk rags flapping in the wind and distressed denim that will deceive your dreamer’s soul, it’s all about the state of mind.