Defining Bohemian Style Clothing
What is bohemian style clothing? You probably know it when you see it! Whether you see a celebrity like Zoe Kravitz, Mary Kate, or Ashely Olsen in the tabloids, or you see pictures of people attending Coachella, bohemian style clothing is a fashion trend that is unique and unmistakable.
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But just because you can identify it doesn’t mean you can explain it! Here’s what you need to know about bohemian style clothing, whether you’re interested in learning exactly what makes bohemian clothing boho or you’re wondering how to wear boho style.
The Origins of Bohemian Style Clothing
The modern origins of bohemian style clothing are quite different than the cultural beginnings of the original Bohemians. Their history is very detailed and goes back thousands of years, with overlapping histories with the gypsies. This is a complicated subject, but for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on the modern origins of the Bohemian movement that started in France, as that movement is closely tied to the bohemian style of today.
The modern beginnings of current bohemian styles began during the French Revolution in the late 1700's. Many artists and creatives were forced to dress in eclectic ways because there wasn't a lot of money to go around. Their personal style of wearing used clothing reminded people of the time of nomadic gypsies, so society at the time labeled them bohemians, and the term stuck.
Over time, the style evolved to become more than just a necessity. It became an ideology associated with anti-materialism, pro communal living spaces, and a push-back against social conventions, sometimes including personal hygiene, and later corsets and crinoline.
Today, bohemian style clothing is very mainstream. Although many people still adhere to the lifestyle of the original style bohemians in France, this fashion has caught on with many women who simply prefer the comfortable, laid-back style that bohemian clothing has to offer.
The Bohemian Look in the 21st Century
Today's boho look has an aesthetic that is more tied to the hippie styles of the 60's and 70's, although there are details that make these two styles unique. For example, hippie fashion was politically driven, and many styles were meant to be worn by both men and women for a unisex look. Bohemian fashion today celebrates femininity with lace, crocheted details, and bold patterns, with no strong political point of view needed.
Boho clothing includes bell bottom jeans that may remind you of the hippies of the 70's, but it also includes ripped jean shorts, flowing skirts, and harem pants, as well as prairie and peasant tops with loose fits and mixed print designs. One-size-fits most dresses, distressed jackets, and kimonos are especially popular, while vintage-style T-shirts are a great way for those who are just getting into boho style to give it a try.
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Layering and accessorizing are also important aspects of bohemian style. You can layer clothing items by wearing a jacket and scarf, while some women prefer layering jewelry with other accessories, like hats and headbands. There’s really no such thing as too much when it comes to boho style—the more layers and accessories, the better!
Bohemian clothing is popular with women because it is flowy, comfortable, and pretty, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this trend is only for women. Men can wear bohemian fashion too! Bold patterns and color can be found in men's boho fashion, but neutral tones, denim, and leather are especially popular with men.
Bohemian Versus Boho Chic Clothing
Bohemian clothing for women is generally considered synonymous with boho chic clothing, but there are some differences, and more differences are appearing as this style evolves.
Chic is a French word that means “elegant or stylish”, which is quite different than the boho style that evolved among the creatives during the French Revolution. Although thrifting is still part of boho style, most who indulge in this look do so by purchasing stylish new items that can be found at a variety of price points.
Boho chic is also a bit more stylized than traditional boho fashion, and it's mostly the style that is worn by celebrities and influencers. While boho fashion is fun, beautiful, and layered, boho chic tends to be a little more curated with slightly fitted silhouettes, coordinated patterns and colors, and items in neutral tones are often incorporated.
Boho style can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! There's no need to have an entire closet full of bohemian style clothing in order to get the perfect look. This style can be curated over time. Start with one or two boho dresses, try wearing a flowing top with a pair of jeans, or try layering a few of your favorite necklaces together to get started with this trend. As you add new pieces to your wardrobe, the mix-and-match nature of boho style means you’ll never run out of new looks to try!