The term «Bohemian» originated in France in 19th Century. The original Bohemians were travelers or refugees from central Europe (hence, the French «bohémien», for «gypsy»). So, this term was coined due to the influx of gypsies traveling from Bohemia in Czech Republic and became a generalized identity for the lifestyle of these traveling gypsies more than their nationality.
The bohemians reside in the run down areas of the town and that allowed them the freedom of expression, not just because they lacked money, but also because that was how they liked it best. In modern usage, the term «Bohemian» is applied to people who live unconventional, usually artistic lives.
Reflecting on the fashion style of «boho-chic» in the early years of the 21st Century, the Sunday Times thought it ironic that «fashionable girls wore ruffly floral skirts in the hope of looking bohemian, nomadic, spirited and non-bourgeois», whereas «gypsy girls themselves are sexy and delightful because they don’t give a hoot for fashion». By contrast, in the late 19th Century and first half of the 20th, aspects of bohemian fashion reflected the lifestyle itself.
But, is it all about fashion and style? As we know, fashion comes and goes and it’s all about recycling ideas. If a person dress like a hippie or a gypsy, that means that he/she is a bohemian, too? So, which are the most common characteristics of a bohemian lifestyle person? How can someone recognize this kind of person?
In Bohemian Manifesto, a Field Guide to Living on the Edge, author Laren Stover, breaks down the term «Bohemian» into 5 distinct mind-sets or styles, as follows:
- Nouveau: bohemians with money who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture,
- Gypsy: the expatriate types, they create their own Gypsy ideal of nirvana wherever they go,
- Beat: also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused,
- Zen: “post-beat,” focus on spirituality rather than art,
- Dandy: no money, but try to appear as if they have it by buying and displaying expensive or rare items (such as brands of alcohol).
Having understood the bohemian lifestyle, we sat down to find some characteristics that make them different from others. What do they have in common? So, here are 5 characteristics of a Bohemian Lifestyle:
1. They reside in cheap areas with freedom of expression
Bohemian communities live in areas where the living expenditure is cheap so they can enjoy freedom of expression. They usually don’t have too much of money and it’s therefore easiest for them to live in areas where they pay minimal rent so that can be what they vision to be.
2. They wear unusual clothes, always out of fashion
Bohemians are generally poor, and they usually wear old and second hand clothing, with bold colors that make them distinct. Generally, bohemian style is hippie and gypsy style clothing. For example, girls wear oversized and colorfully dresses or skirts with floral prints and men wear rugged shirts, hoodies and jeans. Bohemian clothing is colorful and eye catching. Bohemians also like accessorizes, such as big bracelets, necklaces and hats.
3. They often are vegetarian/vegan
Bohemians have been documented to have healthy lifestyle. The reason for them to remain vegetarian wasn’t just because of their healthy lifestyle, but also because they thought it kept them energetic. Vegetarian diet improved self-esteem and self-love and more importantly love for other living things.
4. They have a very distinct love not war mentality
Generally, Bohemians are educated, open minded and extensive readers. Their lifestyle is highly integrated with music, art and philosophy. People called them poor because they have lived their lives painting, writing or acting, which aren’t really rewarding careers. Having in depth knowledge, bohemians are propagators of love and they discard the idea of war.
5. They live a non-traditional lifestyle
Bohemians don’t have any regular life routine. Thanks to their talent and the drive to be creative, bohemians consider themselves self-expressive. They’re wanderers or adventurers. Nomads who are filled with artistic instincts and creativity. This act makes them lead a very non-traditional lifestyle, different to “normal” lifestyle. They’re least concerned about what others think about them or how they will be accepted in the society. Even today, if someone leads a non-traditional lifestyle, he/she is often called as a bohemian. This is more so, if a person has an extra bent in art.