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Bohemian culture is a style that is associated with artistic people such as artists, writers, and intellectuals. It is a style that has been in existence for over 200 years now. It is a style that stands out from current styles of dressing due to its colorful nature, threadbare fabrics and its unique creativity. It can be described as an alternative to contemporary dressing. It does this by incorporating good aspects of historical dressing styles with the modern style. The result of this is fashion that’s completely different from what people are used to seeing.
Origin of the Bohemians
The Bohemians were first seen in France after the French revolution. Before the revolution, artists had a social standing and were seen as skilled and talented. All this changed and unlike before where artists were supported by the wealthy in society, artists ended up in abject poverty. Many resulted to being nomadic pastoralists moving from one place to another in search of food and water. They didn’t have enough money to buy clothing. This meant they adorned themselves with out of fashion and used clothing.
The effects of the revolution were not all gloomy. It brought with it a new way for people to express their personality in the way they dressed. People began to look at artists as not only talented and skilled but a genius who expressed themselves in the way they lived and looked. They were viewed as moving pieces of art. The new artist were compared to Gypsies who were believed to be originally from Bohemia, which is a region between Eastern Europe and Balkans. The new breed of artists came to be referred to as Bohemians. Gypsies is a name used to describe nomadic people who were considered social outcasts.
Bohemian style takes root
By the year 1830s, Bohemian artists and Bohemian lovers had established Bohemian style as the preferred code of dressing. They incorporated colorful colors, long flowy hair and hats. The style in many ways resembled the Romani people. The bohemian style quickly represented people who wore colorfully chosen pieces of clothing and accessories. It represented a shift in people who weren’t afraid to express their sexual freedom and enlightening. Bohemian lifestyle in general is against materialism, owning private property and advocates for people to live as communities and embrace creativity. However the Bohemian culture is associated with drugs and substance abuse.
19th Century Aesthetic movement
Aesthetic movement became part of the Bohemian culture. The Bohemians went against the modes of dressing that people were used to and they went ahead to embrace a way of dressing from the past and which contained oriental designs. The bohemians believed industrial revolution was dehumanizing. To counter this belief, they encouraged goods that were individually crafted. Clothes that utilized this method were lose and very soft, contained colorful colors and had decorations. All this went against how clothes used to be made during the Victorian revolution.
What made Bohemian Style Unique?
There are several elements that make up the Bohemian style of dressing. They include but not limited to;
- Loose flowy pieces of clothing made utilizing natural materials.
- Less restrictive pieces of clothing mostly excluding bras, corsets and other restrictive clothing.
- Loose flowy hair.
- Beautifully colored scarves to be worn on the neck and waist to replace a belt.
- Old and simple clothing.
- Peasant style of dressing such as tunics and loose trousers.
- Traditional pieces of attire such as the kimono from Japan, robes and other ethnic styles of dressing.
- Blending traditional and mediaeval styles of dressing.
- Layering the various items.
- Matching and mixing different pieces of clothing to come up with a completely different design or pattern.
- Humongous earnings.
- Large hats.
- Clothes with patches.
- Brightly colored fabrics.
- Going against expected tidiness and people having the same mode of dressing.
Popular Bohemian Culture Events
The rainbow gathering – this is an annual event that brings together bohemian fans as well as those who directly practice the bohemian lifestyle to say no to materialism and instead embrace creativity, diversity and environmentalism.
The hippie movement – it used to happen in the 60s. It used to bring together the different elements of the Bohemian culture in terms of mode of dressing, rejecting the life people were used to and being different in all aspects of life.
Greenwich Village New York – it was a meeting place for the minority artists and writers in the 20th century. It was a place where they could freely express themselves and ideals without worrying about being judged.
The left bank – this also happened in the 20th century in France at a place called the Montparnasse area. It attracted all types of creatives including artists, writers and intellectuals. It provided a place for people to meet and live cheaply which was what the bohemian lifestyle was advocating for.
La Boheme and the Musical Rent – there was an artist by the named Puccini who came up with a musical titled “opera La Boheme” which expressed the struggles people practicing the Bohemian culture were faced with.
Sherlock Holmes – this is a story that was written by Arthur Conan Doyle’s which featured Sherlock which described the “Bohemian soul”
Paul Poiret – he was a renowned fashion designer who redesigned some ethnic designs in order to suit western fashion. He combined elements from Russian gipsy costumes with those of Middle Eastern, historical and oriental designs which helped to expose the Bohemian mode of dressing to mainstream fashion.
William and Jane Morris – William was an architecture by profession but his deep passion for fashion made him to enter into the world of fashion. He used to make clothes for his wife who would model them and people who were intrigued by the unique pieces of clothing would enquire where they would get such masterpieces. This turned into a business. William believed in environmentalism and dressing in mediaeval styles and contributed immensely to the growth of the Bohemian style. His wife represented the aesthetic movements through wearing loose pieces of clothing and her long flowy hair.
Dorelia McNeill – she used to model clothes for Gwen and Augustus John in the 19th and 20th centuries. Augustus and his wife practiced a nomadic life and they would represent this in their paintings. She would be painted wearing long and flowy skirts and scarves which is one of the elements of the Bohemian culture.
20th century Bohemian style
Bohemian culture has not changed tremendously over the years. It is a style that is synonymous with young people. It advocates for its followers to endeavor to reject materialism and instead embrace creativity, simple living and environmentalism. However, Bohemian style has given birth to new styles of dressing which include; Beatniks, loose fitting skirts.
Bohemian style in the 21st century
Bohemian style has been existence for over 200 years and from the looks of it, it is something that will stay with us for many years to come. Designers have taken advantage of this fact and designed Bohemian inspired pieces of clothing. What have the designers done to achieve this look?
- Incorporating solid prints with lots of floral details. The clothes are maxi and flowy. They have added hems to add beauty to the dresses.
- Functionality-designers have realized people are looking for clothes that are simple and light for travel. This has made some dresses so popular.
- Mixing and matching- it helps designers achieve new designs and patterns which helps bring life to Bohemian clothing. It helps in bringing out the personality of those who wear the clothes.
- Lacing- these has been a trend that has been picking up quite fast. Laces are used on the upper part to help customize the fit of the dress but helps to add detail as well. Including a crotchet helps designers appeal to many clientele.
Tips on achieving a Bohemian look
- More in this case is definitely better- Try to incorporate as many pieces of clothing and accessories at a go. Play with different accessories to come up with one which works best for you.
- Be a lover of color- bohemians believe in having brightly colored pieces of attire. You should not be afraid to experiment with bright colors Go for rustic clothes instead of new and glossy ones.
- Think like an artist- don’t be afraid to step out of the box and express your fashion. Play around with new patterns, designs and colors.
- Paint and patch- patching is one of the elements of bohemian style. If you want to look like a bohemian, you clothes shouldn’t look perfect. Patch, patch and patch. As for paint, go for the brightest colors you can find.
- Use the things that are around you- instead of buying new pieces of clothing, go to your wardrobe and look for some of the oldest clothes. Give them life by changing the pattern, color and patching them up.
- Keep on shopping- if you want to be a true Bohemian, visit any shopping place you hear or know. Go to garage sales, second hand clothes and go online to look for used clothes.