What Is Bohemian Style?

What does it mean to be bohemian? A lot of people are familiar with the “boho chic” style, but very few know that the bohemian style goes way beyond what most people know of it—it is a culture in its own right.

Randomly asking your friends this question will most likely lead to descriptions of a bohemian girl’s clothing— flower-crowns, a flowy bohemian dress, bohemian patterned tattoos and the like.

Indeed, the bohemian fashion trend has come a long way in establishing itself as a timeless style all over the world.  The term “bohemian” (boho, when shortened), has been a common search word when it comes to topics on fashion, arts and craft and event styling. In fact, it was included in the list of the top 10 wedding themes for 2020. Bohemian style white dresses have also been a rising wedding dress option for these boho-themed weddings.

What is a bohemian?

What does it mean to be bohemian? A lot of people are familiar with the “boho chic” style, but very few know that the bohemian style goes way beyond what most people know of it—it is a culture in its own right.

Boho Fomo - Kombucha - Bohemian Lifestyle
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Now I don’t want to be Ms. History Professor here, so I tried thinking of a fun comparison. And as weird as my imagination got, I thought of kombucha. Yes, the drink from the viral kombucha girl video. Kombucha is a very unique drink. It has its own history, it has a distinct taste that by no means fits a single category, and it’s a drink that stands out, period. Then I thought, hey, isn’t that what the bohemian style’s all about? It has an interesting historical upbringing, a distinct “taste” for style, and a concept eccentric enough to stand out; it all checks out!

What is the meaning of bohemian?

The word bohemian was first considered a disparaging and countercultural term for gypsies believed to have originated from Bohemia in central Europe during much of the Renaissance. Bohemia is believed to be where the modern-day Czech Republic now stands.

bohemia map
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However, “Bohemian” had not caught on among its people, never being widely used by the Czech population to refer to their nationality. In the 19th century, “bohemian” took on a more romantic connotation, becoming synonymous with the non-traditional lifestyles of artists, performers, musicians, writers, and wanderers of major European cities. The Dictionnaire de l’AcademieFrancaise established its own (but much related) definition of bohemian as “one who lives a vagabond, unregimented life without assured resources; one who does not worry about tomorrow.

Bohemian style - gypsies

More recently, the Oxford Dictionary defined a “bohemian” as “a person, who is involved with the arts and lives in a very informal way without following accepted rules of behavior.” Today, a person who identifies as bohemian, does so in terms of fashion or of having a great liking for anything hippie/gypsy/bohemian.

The true charm of the bohemian aesthetic is its distinct taste. Meaning, it’s too free-spirited to be categorized as classic, but too rich to be considered minimalist. It is too muted to be considered glamorous, but too versatile to be identified as vintage. In fact, it would seem pointless to categorize boho because it stands on its own as an individual category!

What does bohemian mean in style?

If there is one quality that genuinely sets bohemians apart, it probably is their level of creativity. Artistry and bohemia have long existed hand in hand—often inseparable from one another. Tight-knit communities of like-minded bohemians have established art districts and art colonies all around Europe, and even the world! Most of them are located in some areas of Paris, France, Florence, Italy, and even the unassuming and quiet town of Basel in Switzerland.

Common creative outlet for bohemians alike include handmade crafting and different do-it-yourself (DIY) pursuits. Personally, I believe what makes DIY bohemian jewelry and DIY bohemian headdresses very attractive is the individual personality its handcrafter adds into the finished product. Handmade products indeed have an authentic charm to them.

On top of creativity, another quality of bohemians adds to their distinctive presence—their free-spirited nature. The bohemian lifestyle is one that values love, artistry, spirituality, and living a simple yet free-spirited and joyous life. This innate love for being free and unburdened is imbibed in their clothing style as well. This probably explains why boho style clothing is mostly defined by being flowy, ethereal, and not form-fitting. Bohemian outfits simply present nonconformity and that’s just what makes it very unique. Bohemians simply stand out, and without even trying.

Why is boho fashion so popular?  

Over the years, this simple boho style was never considered outdated. This enduring nature of the boho influence is probably owed to its authenticity. In a world where everyone works to conform, a taste of the unconventional is refreshing and healing even. Because bohemians are not afraid to be the outsider or the outlier, putting a premium on their outlook in life first has become their priority.

At the end of the day, in the same way that kombucha is not to everyone’s liking, there are people who do not appreciate the bohemian life as well. Some may find it too radical or too different and unstable. The real challenge is to stand out in confidence. If stepping back and choosing the different path works wonders in your life, then there’s no shame at that. It’s been quoted endlessly, but Robert Frost’s words remain compelling and endearing: “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Borrowing the words of the American writer Mark Twain, I would like to end this blog post with a challenge to my readers—Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.

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