Free Spirit Style: Embracing Boho Chic

Free Spirit Style: Embracing Boho Chic

The term "boho chic" has become synonymous with a style that combines bohemian and hippie influences with a modern, fashionable twist. But where did this phrase come from, and how did it evolve into the beloved fashion trend we know today? 

The Roots of Bohemian Style


To understand "boho chic," we have to look at the bohemian style roots in the countercultural movements of the 19th century. The term "bohemian" originally referred to the unconventional lifestyles of artists, writers, and musicians who rejected traditional norms and values.

The term first gained popularity in France, where artists and writers like Henri Murger romanticized the carefree, non-conformist lifestyles of those living in the Bohemian district of Paris. This area was known for its eclectic mix of people, from impoverished artists to intellectuals.

One of the most notable artists known for embodying the bohemian spirit in the 19th century, was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (his cover painting on Henri Murgers book above). He embraced the unconventional lifestyle associated with bohemianism, living and socializing in the vibrant artistic communities of The Latin Quarter, on the banks of the river Seine, in Paris. (The area took its name from the Latin language, taught in the Middle Ages at many schools in the district.) His avant-garde approach to art, his colorful personality, and his fascination with the bohemian underworld of Montmartre made him a quintessential figure of the bohemian movement during that time.

Aesthetic Movement: The late 19th-century Aesthetic Movement, which emphasized beauty and self-expression over societal norms, further influenced the bohemian style. This movement celebrated individuality, free-spiritedness, and a rejection of the industrialized world’s rigid structures. Barefoot, loose fitting flowing garb and a penchant for daydreaming, the movement stormed society and became entrenched forever among the art community and the elite.

'Daydreaming' by Albert Moore

The Hippie Influence of the 1960s and 70s

Fast forward to the 1960s and 70s, and the bohemian style saw a significant revival with the hippie movement. The hippies embraced many elements of bohemianism, including a love for nature, a rejection of materialism, and an emphasis on peace and love.

Jean Bouquin & Brigitte Bardot in 1960's

Hippie fashion featured flowing dresses, fringed vests, bell-bottoms, ethnic prints, and handcrafted jewelry. This era’s style was characterized by its eclectic mix and DIY spirit, which heavily influenced the later boho chic trend.

The Emergence of 'Boho Chic'

The phrase "boho chic" first came into prominence in the early 2000s, blending the bohemian aesthetic with a contemporary, fashionable edge. This term encapsulated a style that was both effortless and elegant, drawing on historical influences while remaining relevant to modern fashion.

Key Moments and Influences

Sienna Miller and Kate Moss: British actresses and models like Sienna Miller and Kate Moss played pivotal roles in popularizing the boho chic look. Their off-duty styles featured layered clothing, vintage finds, and statement accessories that defined the trend.

Coachella and Music Festivals: The rise of music festivals like Coachella also contributed to the popularity of boho chic. Festival-goers embraced the free-spirited, eclectic style, often wearing flowing dresses, floral crowns, and layered jewelry.

Boho Chic in Fashion Media


Fashion magazines and blogs quickly picked up on the trend, featuring boho chic looks and providing style guides to achieve the look. The trend was characterized by its versatility and accessibility, appealing to those who wanted to blend comfort with style.

Key Elements of Boho Chic Style



Boho chic is defined by its relaxed, eclectic, and artistic elements. Here are some key components:

Flowing Silhouettes: Maxi dresses, peasant blouses, and wide-legged pants are staples of boho chic, offering comfort and a carefree aesthetic.

Natural Fabrics: Materials like cotton, linen, and suede are commonly used, emphasizing a connection to nature and a sustainable ethos.

Ethnic and Vintage Influences: Boho chic often incorporates ethnic prints, vintage pieces, and handcrafted items, reflecting a love for diverse cultures and history.

Layering: Layering is a significant aspect, whether it’s clothing or accessories. Think layered necklaces, stacked bracelets, and scarves.

Earthy and Jewel Tones: The color palette typically includes earthy tones like browns, greens, and creams, alongside vibrant jewel tones like turquoise and amethyst.


The Enduring Appeal of 'The Look'

The enduring appeal of boho chic lies in its versatility and the way it allows for personal expression. It’s a style that can be dressed up or down, and it’s accessible to people of all ages. Its emphasis on individuality and creativity means that it continues to evolve, incorporating new influences while maintaining its core principles.

In a world where fashion trends come and go, boho chic remains a beloved and timeless style. Its roots in bohemian and hippie culture, combined with its modern adaptations, ensure that it will continue to inspire fashion enthusiasts for years to come.

Boho Chic photo library: Thanks to Cotton Bro Studio

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