What is Bohemian Fashion?

Whether you call it bohemian, boho or boho chic, this fashion trend has become a staple in a modern wardrobe, with natural materials and hippie-inspired patterns. Bohemian dresses and boho tops have become sought after pieces across Australia.


Bohemian style is less of a trend than it is a lifestyle. When you think of bohemian fashion you often think of bold prints, colour explosions and layered jewellery or perhaps you look more towards soft linens, neutral tones and clashing textures. Whatever your bohemian style may be, it is all deeply rooted in the same place.


Whether you are thinking of the typical Australian bohemian with beachy hair, mixed materials, lace dresses and printed florals or perhaps the European bohemian look with elaborate layering, bold colours and patterns with purposeful styling. You can see in all cultures that bohemian fashion is a key element of fashion worldwide.


The family tree of bohemian style can be associated with hippie culture in the 60’s and 70’s, with its similar colours, prints and silhouettes, however, the bohemian fashion culture can be linked back to the 19th century as a counterculture to the corsets and puffy dresses often worn by women. 


Over the years this bohemian style has evolved into the relaxed and effortless looks we now see worldwide. This fashion trend has morphed into a lifestyle, with a focus on sustainability and freedom.


Contrary to popular belief, bohemian and hippie is not the same - though both share similar ideologies, bohemian fashion is more laid back and unconventional, with less political origins than hippies.

boho clothing 
green boho dress


THE BEGINING OF BOHO

Bohemian fashion is an alternative way of dressing, though it has found its place in mainstream culture, it originated as very unconventional.


Bohemian fashion itself is a hybrid of the pejorative word used to describe Romanis who lived in France and originated in northern India and the fashions of struggling artists after the French Revolution. 


Due to the poor economic climate, those who now had to live a life of poverty turned to second-hand and old clothing in an act of desperation. As the economy stabilized, this became a trend for artists and creatives, now using these used garments to express their creativity and to distinguish themselves away from mainstream society. 


The term bohemian soon became associated with the group of people who dressed in this particular style, with loose garments and mixed materials.


THE ROMANTICS

The mid 19th century saw the Romantics become associated with the French Bohemians. Artists particularly interested in romanticism became interested in the bohemian form of expression and began to incorporate elements into their style.

Inspired by the bohemians; colourful materials, oriental-inspired clothing, distressed fabrics and second-hand clothing became key elements to their style. 


BOHO AESTHETICS

With the style being admired by many despite not being mainstream, the aesthetics of bohemian style became less of a necessity for struggling creatives but instead, an adopted ideology and style for many.

Bohemian fashion was seen as a protest against materialism, social conventions and personal hygiene. This new ideology combined with the more comfortable and sustainable became a movement in fashion.


Becoming more popular, the bohemian style was featured on the subjects of many paintings and slowly solidified its place in culture.


BOHEMIAN DESIGNERS

Bohemian fashion began to evolve when 20th-century designers chose to embellish the previously medieval-inspired styles.

It was here when ethnic details were introduced, like bold floral prints, paisley patterns, swirls and beading. 

It was here when bohemian trends evolved from simply garments to the home, with a range of rugs, picture frames and pillows for those into the bohemian trend. 


THE EVOLUTION

During the hippie movements of the 1960s the bohemian movement gained momentum. Its anti-materialism focus and unconventional lifestyle appealed heavily to anti-government hippies.

Who focused heavily on not conforming to societies ideas on how they should dress, act and speak.

Their fashion choices aligned with the bohemian movement in their loose, flowy, silhouettes and bold patterns, unlike those of previous decades. 


KEY ELEMENTS OF BOHEMIAN FASHION


JEWEL TONES

Bohemian fashion is often very natural and earthy tones, think neutral whites, beiges, taupes and greens or jewel tones like deep purples, crimsons, blues and pinks.

These tones are staples in a bohemian closet, as they never go out of style. These tones are ever flattering and pair well with all other natural colours. 

Don’t forget denim pairs with everything, whether it’s denim shorts, jeans or an oversized denim jacket, make this a staple in your wardrobe. 


FLOWY SILHOUETTES

Stay true to bohemian style with loose and flowy silhouettes, going against anything fitted, figure-hugging or curvy defining. Instead of skinny jeans opt for maxi skirts or harem pants, perhaps a flowy dress is more your style.

The options are limitless when it comes to your bottoms, a denim skirt, shorts or linen pants are key elements of a boho look.

Try to switch up your look with puffy blouses, empire waistlines, loose necklines and printed t-shirts, all staples in a bohemian fashion look.

These flowy styles feed into the relaxed and carefree nature of a bohemian. 



TEXTURES 

A key element to a bohemian look is to not shy away from texture. Not every fabric has to be made from a plain cotton blend, but instead add interest to your look with ribbed corduroy, distressed denim, soft linen and jerseys.

Lace dresses and fringe jackets are staple elements to a bohemian style, adding texture and interest to a simple look.

Don’t worry about overdoing your look, there are no rules to bohemian fashion and you can layer as many or as few fabrics as your heart desires.


PATTERNS

Don’t be scared of patterns when trying to achieve a bohemian look, look for organic patterns like Indian stamping, floral patterns and mosaic styles.

Though polka dots and stripes may be easier to find these are very modern and won’t help you achieve the look you are after.

Mixing and matching patterns can be a fun experiment for you to try. Try pairing large florals with more dainty florals for a fun and interesting look.

Or even pair your favourite graphic T-shirt with a patterned skirt. The options are limitless when it comes to bohemian fashion.


SUSTAINABLE

One important factor to keep in mind when picking out your bohemian wardrobe is sustainability. Bohemian fashion stemmed from second hand and pre-loved clothing, there is a heavy focus on slow fashion and ethical fabrics.

This doesn’t mean you are limited to only shopping at second-hand stores, but instead try to shift your buying focus to items you will wear again and again, or fabrics that are ethically made like 100% cotton or linen blends. 

Denim is a great fabric when it comes to cost per wear and quality, but new denim isn’t great for our planet.

Have a look in op shops for vintage denim finds, these jeans are often made with better quality denim and have already been worn - the best of both worlds.


PRACTICAL

Similarly to the last point, it is important your bohemian wardrobe is practical for you. Find pieces you will wear again and again and make sure it fits into your lifestyle.

If you are constantly running around then perhaps that bohemian mini dress with fiddly straps isn’t for you, instead go for something you know you will reach for and will be comfortable wearing all day long.

Shoes are an important factor of bohemian dressing, but not in the way you think.

You’ll often see a ‘bohemian’ wearing boots, sandals or no shoes at all. In fact, it is rare you’ll catch a ‘bohemian’ wearing heeled shoes of any kind, this is purely for practicality. 

Find a few pairs of shoes that work best for you, this may be high-quality boots, some strappy sandals or some trustworthy sneakers.

This by no means means that you can’t own heels or extravagant boots, but instead think about each purchase and make sure it fits into your lifestyle.


LAYERING

It is uncommon you’ll see bohemian fashion consisting of just one plain dress. In winter layer your bohemian dresses and tops with stylish jackets and scarves.

Try wearing a fun maxi dress with a t-shirt and some belts for a great trans-seasonal look. 

Layering isn’t just exclusive to your clothing, jewellery is an important part of a bohemian look.

Try layering necklaces, bangles, anklets or rings - don’t worry about these all being the same metal, mixing metals is great for bohemian fashion. 


WHERE YOU CAN FIND BOHEMIAN FASHION INSPIRATION

If you’re looking for some extra inspiration for bohemian fashion and you have exhausted Pinterest, there are many places to look.

Some of our favourite places to look for inspiration is music festivals and celebrities.


FESTIVALS

Music festivals are a great source of inspiration for bohemian fashion. Australian festivals like Splendor in the Grass or international festivals like Coachella, Leeds or Lollapalooza are filled with people dressing in bohemian fashion.

This is evident with their loose garments, layering, and dressing for practicality. We love looking for inspiration at these festivals for looks that we can include in everyday life.


CELEBRITIES

Celebrities are a great source of style inspiration, some of our favourite celebrities for inspiration are Vanessa Hudgens, Zoe Kravitz, Florence Welch and The Olsen Twins.

These celebrities are known for their bohemian whimsical style, their effortless looks are made up of textured layers, neutral colours and organic patterns.

This all combined makes for a gorgeous effortless bohemian look.

The journey of Bohemian style has evolved into the beautiful style we see today.

At Jam Jam, we tribute the boho style in a range of our tops and dresses made for modern women. Shop our collection of boho dresses and boho tops today!   

September 07, 2021 — Marcia Pilkington