You’ve probably seen her: the Texas boho woman. Her style, as the name implies, is part Western wear, part bohemian. She’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll—the love child of Dolly and Stevie. Her look starts with the staples: denim, turquoise jewelry, and cowboy boots. Then come the individual touches to mix and match and clash: rhinestones, animal prints, leather, suede, lace, fringe, chevrons, crosses, cow skulls, bandannas or scarves, hats of various shapes and sizes, and declarative T-shirts proclaiming “Wanderlust and Rodeo Dust,” “Ride More, Worry Less,” and “Kiss My” over an image of a donkey.
The Texas boho style seems to resonate with a certain type of woman—she’s Western adjacent, but not actually roping and riding (and if she is roping and riding, there’s much more to her identity than Wranglers and ropers). She has self-diagnosed her own wanderlust and considers herself a dreamer. The look is hyperfeminine, a sartorial cousin of the over-the-top Dallas, big-haired blonde stereotype. Texas boho is more than a style; it’s a vibe—one of pride, independence, and strength in womanhood. It’s expressed by those for whom sass and boldness are birthrights and subtlety is cause for a yawn.
Although Texas boho women live all across the state, many of them converge on the tiny town of Round Top every spring and fall for the world-renowned antiques fair. Round Top is also home, year-round, to Junk Gypsy, the store and progenitor of Texas boho.
“People would always ask, ‘What is your style—Is it shabby chic? Is it Western?’ ” says Amie Sikes, who, along with her sister Jolie, founded Junk Gypsy. “We would always say, ‘It’s Texas.’ ”
The fall’s Original Round Top Antiques Fair is happening now through October 30. During the spring edition, in March and April, Junk Gypsy was packed, despite the pandemic. Shoppers perused dip-dyed slip dresses, displays of silk scarves, scores of jewelry, and chunky belt buckles reading “Junk Gypsy’’ and “Mama Tried.” They considered candles, bath goods, home decor, blankets, and distressed furniture. Twice, I heard Jolie Sikes tell disappointed customers, “So sorry, that’s sold out.” Hanging over the shoppers like a moon was a giant neon crown. The sisters, you see, are the queens of this style. Amie and Jolie Sykes were raised in Overton, an East Texas “one-light town” they describe as “our little Mayberry” on the Junk Gypsy website. They “had grown up kinda cowgirl but not totally,” recalls Amie. “We didn’t do rodeos, but we had horses . . . We just felt like there were so many different things that played into our personal style.” At Texas A&M, where both sisters went to college, neither felt quite at home with the rodeo crowd or the city crowd. They preferred to put together looks from thrifted finds, incorporating elements that were country (but not quite Western) and free-spirited (but not quite hippie). In 1998 they decided to turn their style into something marketable. British-born “shabby chic” was on the rise at the time, but the Sikes sisters were doing something else, swapping the English countryside for the Texas ranch and injecting color into the pale, romantic aesthetic. At markets and trade shows around the state, they sold flea-market finds, vintage or repurposed furniture, and T-shirts of their own design, including one that read “Well behaved women rarely make history,” a lesser-known quote at the time. Within three years of their company’s founding, the sisters were featured on the Today Show and in Fortune Small Business. They designed Miranda Lambert’s tour bus and then a wedding reception for the country star’s marriage to Blake Shelton. HGTV called, and the nation soon tuned in to watch the sisters renovate Texas houses in their then novel, hard-to-categorize style.
The Sikes’ style had staying power, perhaps because of the sisters’ ability to adapt it to new flea-market finds. Their decision to open an eight-thousand-square-foot headquarters in Round Top, the flea market mecca, in 2013, couldn’t have hurt either. An estimated 100,000 people descend on Round Top in the spring and fall, and Gypsyville, as the sisters call their compound, is now a destination in its own right, with a Junk-O-Rama prom (canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic) and live, front-porch performances corresponding with the antique fair. In 2018, Amie and Jolie opened the Wander Inn on property behind the shop, creating a mecca for their pilgrims. Their latest project: a line of wanderlust-y road trip paraphernalia available at Buc-ee’s gas station locations.
As Junk Gypsy became popular, its style spread, like so many bluebonnet seeds, to other women, who opened up boutiques of their own. Gypsy Pearl sells cheetah and cow prints in Fredericksburg, Fort Worth’s Hippie Cowgirl Couture features heaps of turquoise, and the Dirty Bohemian—also in Round Top—offers refurbished pearl-snaps and plaid. “Some of my biggest influences are definitely the Junk Gypsies,” says Megan Smith, who owns Sookie Sookie, a turquoise-inspired jewelry brand and boutique that pops up at events across Texas. Smith, whose grandparents worked cattle and whose father is a taxidermist, says she sometimes felt like an outsider as the artistic one in the family. She felt an affinity for the Sikes sisters’ aesthetic.
But Amie and Jolie Sikes are the first to say that the soul of what they do dates back to 1968, when Emma Lee Turney began the Round Top Antiques Fair. Now an international draw, the event was then largely a destination for Houston socialites, who would ride out to the country wearing cowboy boots and mink coats. The mix of high and low—Turney, who passed away this March, named a 1998 book on the antique show’s history Denim and Diamonds—provided ancestral #inspo for a new style.
“That started in 1968, and that’s still what we’re doing. We’re still doing denim with some rhinestones or some sequined jacket,” says Amie. That eclecticism—a little bit of this, a little bit of that—is a defining element of the genre, the seed of Texas boho’s maximalist bent and its inherent individualism. It’s also a reflection of the state that sprouted it. “Texas is so much more vast than just that one style,” says Amie.
The state is a hybrid; not quite Southern in the vein of Georgia or the Carolinas, but not entirely Western either. Elements of Texas boho nod to Texas’s various influences: the serapes and turquoise jewelry recall West Texas and our neighbors, Mexico and New Mexico; distressed band T-shirts and free-spirit soul talk conjure the cosmic cowboys and music heritage of seventies Austin; rodeos and cattle work are reflected in denim, wide-brim hats, leather, and cow print; and the prints and colors—loud, sometimes gauche, even—again gesture to that loud, proud Texas woman archetype.
“Texas girls are like, ‘We’re Western, we’re from Texas, and we’re wearing whatever we want to wear,’ ” says Gabrielle Sage, a Western-fashion Instagram influencer and Junk Gypsy intern. “That influences other people to be like, ‘Wear what you want. Be loud, wear all the prints if you want to wear all the prints, or wear all black if that’s what your mood is.’ ”
Texas boho has also evolved to fuse elements of the state’s rural and urban identities, reflecting that the Texas boho woman is just as likely to live in a major metro city as a small town. “People are falling in love with Western fashion who don’t live a Western lifestyle,” says Sage. “I don’t work cows. I don’t live on a ranch, but I absolutely adore Western fashion.” Boutiques such as the Good Babes, in Rockdale, and Western Gringa, in Leakey, are incorporating more modern sensibilities. The former embraces cleaner lines and less-busy prints and colors, while the latter pushes an urban black and white palette with bolder fonts. At the same time, urban aesthetes are continuing to favor a Western look that began trending in mainstream circles last year, when Glamour declared the Western trend “alive and well.” Major retailers such as Old Navy, Everlane, Forever 21, and DSW offer cowboy-style boots and Western-inspired shirts. Meanwhile, Urban Outfitters and Reformation are selling “cowboy” jeans, and cow print, somehow rendered edgy in an urban context, can be purchased in dress, pant, or clog form.
In an era of unending minimalism and homogeneity in fashion and interior design, Texas boho has not only survived but thrived, finding its way into the mainstream and onto influencers who may have never even had reason to see a cow IRL. The Good Babes and Western Gringa both sell internationally, with big audiences in Canada and Australia. But of course, it’s not about the state where the clothes are worn. When wearing Texas boho, with silk wild rags flapping in the wind and distressed denim belying your dreamer’s soul, it’s all about the state of mind.