History of Bohemian Fashion: Where Did it Come From?

The history of bohemian fashion is complicated and dates 200 years back. Initially, it did not start as a fashion movement but it was an essential requirement of the people, that is clothes. 

Many people plunged into poverty after the French Revolution, especially writers, artists, and musicians. Due to a lack of money and clothes, they started wearing used and baggy garments. This was the beginning of bohemian fashion. 

Initially what started as pejorative is now mainstream and popular fashion style in the contemporary world. 

What is Bohemian Style and What Does it Signify?

For many people in the world, boho is not just a mere unconventional dressing style or way of dressing up for them it is a full-fledged culture that reflects a bohemian lifestyle. Bohemian look style highlights carefree and free-spirited individuals.

The boho outfits are flowy, loose, and embroidered with an earthly color palette. These clothes were against social constraints and pre-defined norms of society back then. 

Before going into the types of outfit boho style offers, let us learn about the history of bohemian fashion and how it all of it started. We have provided a timeline of major events and turning points in the history of Bohemian fashion. 

History of Bohemian Fashion (Timeline)

Time  Events 
The early 1800s Artists fell into poverty after the French Revolution and started creatively wearing used and worn clothes. They were viewed as similar to the people of Bohemia (now a region in Czech) hence the name Bohemian. 
1830s The unique clothing style was looked at as counterculture and they were looked down upon. Although the bourgeoisie and artists embraced this style even more. 
1850s The aristocrats of France started appreciating their creative clothing style. There was more integration of art into the boho style of clothing.
1900s It was the same time when the aesthetic movement started in the British mainland and the boho look was embraced by mainland Europe. 
1960s The era of the hippie movement and hippies started wearing similar kinds of attire. The hippies’ movement has a significant role in making Bohemian clothing popular in the Americas. 
The year 2000 and later In the contemporary era, the boho style is getting more and more traction from all over the world. 


Major Events that Took Place in the History of Bohemian Fashion

The history of Boho style in detail.  

  • 1799 – The end of the French Revolution – the revolution severely affected the French community. The painters, artists, and nomadic people that were dependent on wealthy aristocrats and patrons fell into poverty. They started wearing whatever they found useful to cover their bodies. Gradually they started wearing these drapes in their own way and style. This usually includes embroidered designs and single dresses like loose-fitting skirts and gowns.  
  • In the Mid of 18th century – These people started being called bohemians as they looked similar to indigenous people of bohemia. The clothes they wore were generally not welcomed by natives as it was not aligned with a pre-defined dressing norm of society, due to this they were seen with contempt and sometimes faced violence.
  • In the 1850s, The influence of artists – As films were not predominant in this era. People found entertainment in mesmerizing paintings and literature. The artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pierre Auguste Renoir had a significant impact on boho fashion and even the bourgeoisie were attracted to opt for this unique way of dressing.
  • Early 20th Century – The style was further welcome by top models and musicians making the boho style more mainstream. Gwen John and Augustus John were bohemians and models introduced by Dorothy McNeill, during this time the ‘Gypsy Style’ was introduced. Their dress was long and loose with bright embroidery designs.
  • 1958-1967 – The Hippie fashion style was inspired by the bohemian style with some minor differences. The hippie movement plays a huge role in promoting the boho style and making it known worldwide. Although hippie fashion was not completely similar to boho styles, there were enough similarities, both styles embrace informal, loose, and comfortable clothes, and both came into existence to oppose the social norms of society, both included accessories like bracelets, scarf, headbands, and hats.
  • In the 2000s and later – The Bohemian style continued to gain traction in different parts of the world. A new sub-style is known as boho chic style was introduced. the main proponents of the boho chic style were Sienna Miller and Kate Moss in 2005-2006  This was generally a blend of boho and hippie styles an improvement to the boho aesthetic.

A major rise came in 2004 because of actress Sienna Miller. In 2005 the boho styles got omnipresent in the streets of London. The boho style continues to grow in different Asian countries. It got popular in India during the 2010s when women can be seen wearing casual and informal dresses in major urban cities.   

What Does the Boho Style Offer?

Boho style not only offers certain dresses or bottoms, but it also is a whole movement and it includes everything that can think of, be it jewelry, accessories, footwear, etc. Boho style uniqueness comes from decorative details like fringes or gathered prints. 

As fashion is something that changes all the time. Boho fashion is not left behind but the core philosophy and values remain the same, these include the dressers should be comfy, bright, and relaxed. 

1. Dresses/Tops

No matter what top or dress you choose it should be a little oversized and comfy, you can go with a maxi dress with a fleece jacket, or a bring yellow skirt with fringes. V-neck t-shirts create the most beautiful silhouettes.

Although, the bohemian chic style is essentially contents loose corset is also a good choice as it highlights the free spirit of a person. The more important part of the dress itself is attention to decorative details like wearing clothes in layers, most exciting is making your embroidery or print on the dress can also be discussed with a fashion designer. 

Make sure to earthly color palettes like brown, Marone, or Sky blue. The primary color should blend with the secondary colors 

History of bohemian fashion

2. Bottoms

Be a part of the Boho community, with Flowy pants or bell-bottom pants. Palazzo pants with a tank top or loose T-shirts with gathered print. These were some of the Boho styles but, when it comes to boho it is all about experimenting and creativity as boho style was first initiated by artists. 

You can experiment with different dressed and hues of color you may up with some amazing combinations.     

3. Footwears 

The great thing is you can use anything that you find comfortable. Just take care of the weather, and don’t wear shoes when it seems rainy outside. Sandals and flip-flops are most used with Bohemian dresses.  

4. Bohemian Accessories 

When it comes to accessories you can get a bracelet, beautifully curated earrings, or layered necklaces. In the end, it depends on what piece of cloth you are wearing. The accessories your wear should enhance your look and confidence. 

5. Jewelry

The expensive gold earrings and necklaces are what comes to our mind when we hear or read the word jewelry and this is not our fault, this is how we all are wired. But when it comes to Bohemian aesthetics, it doesn’t need to be gold or silver. It could be any material unless it doesn’t react with your skin.  

Necklaces and earrings are common, if you are looking for something more you can have an anklet, nose piercing, or even belly button piercing, it looks really cute!

History of bohemian fashion


Boho Look for Men!

The Boho style is predominantly for women. But don’t worry we are here to pull you out of your FOMO!  

The agenda is the same, the clothes we wear should make us feel comfy and relaxed. Men can wear traditionally embroidered cotton shirts and little oversized pants with belts, you can’t take risks in public. 

More options are rayon tees and cotton hoodies with loose joggers at the bottom. And you can always experiment like a true boho. 

Wrapping Up

Now you have learned everything about the history of bohemian fashion, its core philosophy, and what boho fashion has to offer. Also, boho looks for men. If you think that I missed something or you have something unique to share, do let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.