Boho dressing from Sweden

I have a fondness the occasional flight into boho for casual wear, travel or just breaking free of the denim In Style cloned look.

I long for something better-sized than Indian-import gauze, charming on reedy 15 year olds, but often not right for my taller, larger frame. And I think a 50+ woman can carry a beautiful ethnic piece with particular grace.

hen a blouse conjures retired-Russian-ballerina-living-in-San-Miguel-de-Allende, a bit romantic and mysterious, I go for it. (A circus trailer in "Carnivàle" is my dream living quarters.)

In some haze of links, I found the Swedish designer Gudrun Sjödén's web shop, and liked some of her clothes, especially the hand-printed Indian block prints and ikats.

Many of her designs started as waterclours by Sjödén, who says she is influenced by "nature, Scandinavian design tradition, and meeting people."

I also applaud her range of sizes, from XS to XXL (measurements and fit details given on the site). Some of the styles seem too young for me, but others offer respite from boring choices I see everywhere.

Sjödén offers some standout hand-decorated designs like this "Nora" jacquard sweater in cotton and wool. Rich hand-embroidery around the neck and sleeves is inspired by the Norwegian national costume. Price, £97.

This Ninoschka jersey top with embroidered sleeves lifts basics in a way a tee just can't. Sale price, £55

Sjödén is proud of both her handiwork and the comany's ethical and environmental policies.

The "El
len" cotton-linen blouse features cross-stitched pattern on the sleeves; she says, "We wanted to create a really pretty folklore blouse for you". The body is gored, so the piece can be cinched or left loose to billow romantically. I am charmed by the timeless style and rich detail. £8 from the sale of every “Ellen” blouse sold (price, £97) will be donated to a project to protect the white-backed woodpecker.

Not everything is embellished or uber-hippie. This silk and cotton dress with around neck, pocket and three quarter sleeves would travel well, and comes in both brights and darks; price, £77.

A lyocell and cotton jersey three-quarter sleeve top has asymetrical buttoning and gathers along the front, eccentric in the literal sense, £35 on sale.

The site also carries home
furnishings like this sprightly round cotton bathmat, £35, and a selection of fabrics.

International service is available; see "Service" section of the site for terms for your country.

As my Swedish friend Towe would say, "hur härlig" (how gorgeous)!

If anyone's ordered these clothes, I'd be grateful to hear how you found the quality and customer service.


mette said…
Sorry, but these clothes are just too colorful and detailed to my taste. And I am itching all over when I even think about the wool ( not cashmere soft ) next to my skin.
Susan B said…
I really like that rust jacket in the top picture. Some of these would probably overwhelm my short frame, but they are gorgeous to look at!

(There are still a few boho pieces in my closet for those times when my Inner Hippie Child needs to come out and play.)
Anonymous said…
Coincidentally, I'm wearing a Gudrun Sjoden jersey skirt at this moment. Very easy and comfortable, customer care excellent and the clothes have a certain boho charm, especially as styled in the catalogue. But I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable in all that colour (I'm toning down the skirt with drapey black sweater, wool tights and boots)and - as Deja Pseu intuits - much of their stuff is indeed a bit overwhelming for a five-footer like myself.
Duchesse said…
metscan: This style is not for everyone, and for those who like it, it's hard to find. There is a lot on the site in linen and jersey. I had hoped, with you being in Scandinavia, that you might know the quality.

Pseu: Peace out, Inner Hippie Child! I am partial to hippie skirts in the summer, cooler than pants and more fun to wear.
Duchesse said…
Rosie: Thank you so much for your opinion. Really want a woodblock print summer skirt. Like the outfit you describe yourself wearing, too! Shorter women might enjoy the dresses, many of which are not long.
mette said…
Once more, I sorry I can not help you on this one. Maybe I have seen some knits here, or in Sweden, but the generous use of colors and patterns and the way the wool feels, has turned me off. I remember that many, many years ago I was attracted by Sjöden. I know that she has very faithful customers, so that would mean, that the quality is fine.
Frugal Scholar said…
Please don't hate me, but remember your MaxMara coat....

I like the cardigan. I've long had a weakness for Scandinavian design. But I so often find mail order disappointing.

As I said, don't hate me.
Duchesse said…
Frugal: I in fact thank you! I will be checking her skirts for summer as it's hard to find what I like; most vacation wear is so pedestrian. There's one on sale now but only in Small so I'm safe.
sallymandy said…
Oh my goodness...these are lovely. I'd have to wear these pieces in moderation, not all together...but I love the aesthetic.

Unfortunately I've taken another Wardrobe Refashion pledge not to buy new clothes for a few months. Hmm.

Thanks for sharing this site.
Anonymous said…
I am partial to a splash of colour and, though I am short, I love some of those clothes. That green dress comes in a beautiful cornflower! Thank you for telling us about the site, I shall be visiting it again!
I love these of course, though the simplest ones at the bottom would be the most practical for real life.

(Ageing hippie, not inner hippie, though please don't imagine me as one of duchesse's craft-show victims).

That gold dress looks perfect for travelling (silk is easy to wash by hand and dries relatively wrinkle-free, perhaps a touch-up if there is an iron around) though I'd want it in a colour that isn't so bright - people would get tired of one wearing that every other day for two weeks or more.

I do fear overseas mail orders though... I can see the price trebling.
Duchesse said…
Alienne: Noticed that UK orders are fulfilled from their UK site, lucky you!

lagatta: Agree s&h can be high but they do have good sales which removes some of the sting. I like having things not easily identifiable.

sallymandy: Site might give you further design inspiration :)
LPC said…
These clothes are EXACTLY what I mean when I refer to the Artsy Cousin. I can't put them together to save my life, however:)
Oh I can. Indeed the dress I like is mostly silk:

Silk & cotton dress
This dress is in a straight style with a round neck and a pocket in the right hand side. Roll edges finish the pocket, hem and sleeves. The sleeves are three-quarter length and slightly wider to finish.
Length: M 100 cm. 95-502

Unfortunately none of the brighter colours suit me (why no deeper green, or violet - I hate myself in fuschia) so I'd probably go with the brown they call potato, though I've never seen potato jackets so dark. Trying not to buy more black (except trousers and perhaps skirts, or tights).
Sixty+ said…
I work a couple of doors away from her shop (in Stockholm). And I've never been to her shop! Here in Sweden, wearing her clothes brands you as an earth-mother/arty/ over 55 person trying to cover up, but abroad you can get away with it. It's the same with wearing Marks and Spencer clothes in the UK - easily recognisable and yet abroad you can get away with it. Nothing negative about this; I'm just stating a fact. If you tell me what items you're interested in I can go in to the shop and suss them out. I'll then report back.
greying pixie said…
Shame on you Duchesse! This designer most certainly does not fit into the 'fewer and finer' category you purported to belong to yesterday! Stay well clear!
Duchesse said…
Zofia: I know exactly what you mean! I'd mix the occasional piece in with solids, and some of it is too naive for me. But some women can look completely themselves, head to toe in this look. Thanks for your offer- I am going to wait for spring collection and order one of the Indian print skirts, if they have them.

GP: I have am unapologetic fondness for the *occasional* piece of ethnic (or ethnic inspired) clothing, especially hand embroidery or handprinted fabric. I intend to resist bland department store fare I intend and mediocre quality (e.g., Boden). Not all my clothes need to be in the uppermost range of retail, and I feel no shame in that.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: When I see a woman in a beautiful swath of shawl, or longer skirt, what some would call 'hippie clothes', I usually admire that individuality. It's wonderful to find a look that is impervious to the hard sell of the consumer machine. If one is dressing this way, it still takes care, though, and I am quite sure you take it! (Oh I feel a post coming on...)
diverchic said…
I love her colours! However, with my short-waisted, round, short body I think I would look like a cushion in most of these styles.
greying pixie said…
If it's well made gorgeous ethnic you want, then go to

The owner of this mailorder website is an artist/photographer who designs and models most of the garments herself. Very much inspired by all things spiritual and Indian, she has found a way of designing and wearing the most gorgeous clothing that sits comfortably in the Western world with that intangible Eastern ingredient that we all find so fascinating.

Her clothes are well made and real investment pieces that will never date. As she is a tall woman herself, I think you will find her designs work well for you. I know she has a sale on at the moment, but when the summer clothing starts to arrive you will see what I mean.

After seeing Devotion's garments I wouldn't go near Gudrun Sjoden. To me they are too fake. They are not real ethnic, just a rather cheap looking watered down version that looks too hippy (and therefore rather ageing).

Hope you didn't mind my dig in ribs about 'fewer and finer'. I didn't intend to offend just thought you might need a helpful reminder!

Best wishes
Sixty+ said…
Another site you could look at is

This is a Norwegian company who make beautiful garments, what I would call high-class hobo. The clothes are not cheap, but the quality is superb and the styles unusual. The designs are based on old Nordic patterns. Again, I wouldn't dress top to toe in this. I have a longer cardigan style 131 as in the picture on p16 (click on garments) and then a twin set as per no 147 and 146. I've had them for several years. I wash them on the hand-wash cycle in my washing machine (in a laundry bag) and then iron them. They are still like new. And I always get compliments when I wear their knitwear. The original look was to wear it with a crisp white shirt and jeans, but now I see that the look has developed beyond that. In the winter I wear the twinset or cardigan indoors; in the summer they are too hot, so I would wear them on cool evenings (i.e. cold evenings - the temperature drops considerably here). But as I said before, only one garment at a time and mix the styles to get a sharper look.
Duchesse said…
GP: You have referred to this Devotion's site before, it's important for fans of the sublime (and pricey) fabric artist Brigitte Singh to know where to find her pieces. I'll order a skirt for summer from Sjodun (I like her colours better than Devotion's) and let you know how it is.
Duchesse said…
Zofia: Thanks for mentioning Olkeana; the brand is sold by some North American boutiques, often those carrying high end ski and after ski wear, though you could wear these anywhere. The knit coat is fabulous. Wish the Norwegian site was equipped for orders.
Duchesse said…
Zofia: Sorry ,there is a typo in the name, Oleana.
Glennis said…
I think the ability to carry an elaborate ethnic piece is a rare talent.

I certainly can't do it.

I've known women who are amazing. One is a tiny Japanese woman, who can wear all kinds of assymetrical crazy textured stuff. Another is a tall redhead from Kansas who can wear flowing raw silks and knobby chunks of amber and turquoise. The third is a curly-haired petite blonde who can wear amazing patterned textiles and flowing scarves and jangling jewelry.

I can't pull it off. I feel it overwhelms me. I have to step it down a notch.

Why is that - is it a matter of mentality or of physicial appearance?
Duchesse said…
g: Isn't it interesting that two of the women who you describe are petite/tiny? I think its a matter of a) confidence, and b) body proportion (not height). If a woman has an average to long neck, definite shoulders and and average to long torso, she can carry bolder or textured pieces. The 'rondelle'- busty, with short waist and short neck looks overwhelmed. But I have also seen thise little rondelles like my friend Vicky wear a handpainted silk caftan beautifully. Keeping the textures light helps.
s. said…
These clothes are not my style - at all! - but I find great joy in looking at their colours and use of pattern. Thank you for sharing.
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