I have a deep, deep, Boho streak which would have me dressed in lacy white ruffled cotton petticoats, bright colored prairie skirts, rose-embroidered off-the-shoulder peasant blouses and buckskin fringe, with orange and magenta embroidered touches, perhaps on the handknitted stockings, from the Estonian crafters on the island of Muhu, Frida Kahlo earrings and do rags and perhaps a Day of the Dead rose garland with rainbow colored ribbons over the ears? Or a room which looks like this. I have a deep deep resonance with Natalie Chanin and her boyfriend’s visionary art aesthetic, Dixie Boho, if you will, and African-American yard art.

But there are several caveats.

When I was young, I dressed for the office. And not as a hippie, either. I had to be six feet tall and bullet proof; peasant lace and hand hammered earrings would have had them stabbing me in the front, and not just the back.

Now that I am an old babe, I am sensitive to dressing for the office and the — negrifying effect of not doing so. You want to look hip, and there is a way of doing polychrome hipster Old Babe, as personified by Iris Apfel, which is genius, carefully curated, and requires a flat chest if not the entire substitution of clothes for secondary sexual characteristics — the number one aesthetic reason for going polychrome.

But imagine what Apfel’s trademark brutalist jewelry would look like on Stephanie Seymour’s chest.

Old Babe Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel, co-captain with Princess Lilian of Sweden, of the Old Babes team.

The immortal Stephanie, mother of four, in her see-through Chanel dress.

Now you need to turn to imagining what obloquy an old hippie chick gets from Britain’s highest paid journalist. A.A. Gill is Murdoch’s TV critic at the Times of London and has twice reviewed television shows by the Cambridge classics professor, 57-year-old Mary Beard, as unviewable on account of her appearance. The first time, Gill wrote:

…for someone who looks this closely at the past, it is strange she hasn’t had a closer look at herself before stepping in front of the camera. Beard coos over corpses’ teeth without apparently noticing she is wearing them. The hair is a disaster, the outfit an embarrassment. If you are going to invite yourself into the front rooms of the living, then you need to make an effort.

Mary Beard, in the ancient Roman latrines at Ostia.

Gill is as famous for his feral attitude toward women and shooting baboons, as he is for his alcoholism, his dyslexia, his lack of a college degree, his salary, and the 62 complaints that have been filed against him with Britain’s toothless Press Complaints Commission in the last five years.

This last time, as Beard hosts “Meet the Romans”, a well-received BBC doc on ancient Rome, Gill reviewed the show by saying that she is too ugly for television, except as a contestant on “The Undateables”, a British Channel 4 series about disfigured and disabled people who can’t find partners.

Mary Beard, professor of classics, Cambridge University.

While Beard does not dress in the kind of elaborate Boho chic I like, imagine the screams of obloquy she’d get just walking down the street in a prairie skirt. Virginia Woolf radiated vulnerability and Bohemianism; according to her husband, people would literally point at her and laugh as she walked the streets of London.

Only young ladies want to inspire that kind of derision, one of the real reasons for the young, and not just the old, to have blue hair. To annoy the bourgeois.

I think Boho chic is the purlieu of the rich, the young, and the unemployed. Real Bohemians, like de Kooning, wear work clothes, paint-spattered jeans. Which brings us to exhibit A of my manic pixie dream girl find of the day, a Boho chic costume, shot in Instagram, by the manic pixie dream mom who freaked me the eff out this morning.

Given my love of Boho chic, tell me what is wrong with this outfit? Why is it not making me lust for it? The last person I saw in a fab Boho chic outfit was Jericho Poppler Bartlow, the old surfer girl, at a meeting of the Surfrider Foundation in Long Beach, and it was awesome, moving into the Talitha Getty zone.

Jericho Poppler Bartlow, surfer chick.

Rock on, Jericho.

But so here is the outfit that is So Wrong. A friend elsewhere has weighed in on my private blog. You do the same. It has to do with the infantilization — the replacement of the secondary sexual characteristics with clothing that is — ohhh grrrl, just say it. Limp. The young lady’s granny chic pastiche, unlike Iris Apfel’s masterful polychrome Old Babe collage, is …Not Sexy.

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