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What Is Boho? Meaning and Origins Explained

What Is Boho?

In essence, Boho is referred to as a fashion trend, adapted into mainstream society in the late 60’s and 70’s. Boho style is a mish mash of different colors, fabrics and textures all brought together by earthy elements such as wood and metals. Boho allows for self expression without the constraints of societal standards. It’s freedom to be yourself and all that you stand for, all out in the open for everyone to see.

Is Boho and Bohemian The Same?

Even though technically, Boho is short for Bohemian, Boho and Bohemian actually stand for two different things. Bohemian is the person or the lifestyle, and Boho is the style of self expression of said person. Boho style could be expressed as a Boho fashion style or a Boho decorating style.

What Does It Mean To Be Bohemian? Meaning and History

What Does It Mean To Be Bohemian?

Bohemian people often lead unconventional lifestyles and prefer a simpler life, filled with musical, spiritual and artistic pursuits. They are often adventurers, wanderers and put the freedom of self expression and self love above all else. They have no interest in social status, standard or wealth. To be Bohemian is to be at peace with yourself and one with nature.

“someone who has the ability to appreciate beauty on a deep level, is a profound romantic, doesn’t know any limits, whose world is their own creation, rather than living in a box”.

One of my favorite descriptions of a “real Bohemian”, by designer Savannah Miller, actress Sienna Miller’s older sister.

What Is Haute Boheme?

Over the years, some Bohemians have transcended the voluntary poverty status for which they are commonly known, and became Haute Boheme – a more economically privileged, wealthy, or even aristocratic bohemian circle. Haute Bohemians are fine artists, collectors, editors, antiques dealers, garden designers and couturiers.

Those considered to be Haute Boheme, live in textbook Bohemian locations such as Ibiza, Germany and France; They opt for castles, cliff side villas and grand European apartments with high ceilings. Haute Bohemians are not too concerned with perfection but filling their spacious houses with life long material memories from years spent traveling, learning and reading.

So… kind of like the common Bohemians, Haute (fashionably elegant or high-class) Bohemians have more room for more stuff, and that stuff may or may not be more expensive.

Where Did The Term Bohemian Come From?

Where Did The Term Bohemian Come From?

Bohémien – a common term for the Romani people of France in the early 19th century, who were thought to have come from Bohemia (the western part of modern Czech Republic) back in the 15th century. When artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class Romani neighborhoods of France, due to the social and economic climate, they were all grouped together and the term “Bohemianism” emerged to describe the lifestyle of poor artists.

What started as a necessity, became an entire culture, and soon dressing in old ragged clothing was the height of fashion among French Bohemians. They started incorporating gypsy inspired flowy garments, colorful hair accessories and distressed fabrics, all very different from the mainstream fashions of the era.

Bohemian, Gypsy, Hippie - What's The Difference?

Are Bohemians Gypsy?

A Gypsy is a member of the Romani people, travelers with no permanent ties to any area, often confused with Bohemians due to the origination of the term in the 19th century. While there are some lifestyle similarities in terms of their nomadic nature and lifestyle and fashion choices.

Romani gypsies are said to originate from India and Bohemian people are technically are from Bohemia (a region in the modern Czech Republic).

Is Bohemian The Same as Hippie?

Hippies, much like Bohemians, were non-conformists and can be recognized by their colorful outfits, desire of utter freedom and love of artistic pursuits. While there are some similarities in their lifestyles, still, they differ in origin and substance. Hippies are directly related to a non-political revolution of their own time while Bohemians have no political ties and are simply artists with unconventional lives.

What is a Hippie?

In the 1940’s, the term Hip became a part of African-American Jive slang, and meant “sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date”. The Beat Generation were a literary movement started by a group of authors, whose work explored American culture and politics in the post-war era of the 1950’s, adopted the term Hip, and past it on.

In the mid-1960’s, a counter-culture youth movement inherited the term, and named themselves hippies. They created their own communities, experimented with mind altering drugs and embraced free love and the sexual revolution of the times. If you’re picturing Woodstock, you are right on the money.

“Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”

The guidelines of the hippie code, based on an article called “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture.” published in Time magazine in July of 1967
Are You Bohemian? 10 Signs You Might Be Boho

How Boho Are You?

10 Signs You Could Be Boho

  1. Your moto is ‘Live and let live’ and you don’t judge others for being different
  2. You love learning and reading about anything and everything
  3. You’re a traveler at heart and always feel the need to explore
  4. You’re not one to follow rules and you don’t like being told what to do
  5. You are an artist and the need to create trumps almost all other passions in life
  6. You like to surround yourself with art, books and things you’ve collected over the years
  7. You crave freedom and don’t follow society standards, a 9 to 5 job is definitely not for you
  8. You have your own fashion sense and don’t like looking like anyone else
  9. You love color, texture and uniqueness when it comes to your home or your outfit
  10. You are more spiritual than anything and feel a connection to nature

If you are looking to up your Boho wardrobe – Check out these really cute Boho dresses I found on Amazon under $25 – Perfect for Spring / Summer and come in a ton of Boho color and pattern options…

Boho Dresses Under $25 – Amazon Fashion Finds

In Conclusion…

Bohemian is basically a lifestyle, a state of mind, that adapted and morphed through generations. Boho is a style, and you don’t necessarily have to go full Bohemian to have a little Boho in you.

To be Bohemian is to just be yourself and not conform to anyone else’s ideas of how you should live your life. I love the entire ideology behind it and think that if more people adapted that type of thinking, there would be a lot less stressed out people in the world. So go on and be your Boho self!