Differences: boho vs bohemian style

Boho vs bohemian: This is the front picture that shows a woman with an orange dress and a brown hat.

Boho or Bohemian style is a vibrant trend that many people refer to as their style and overall aesthetic. But which one is right and what are the differences if they exist?

Whilst ‘Boho’ and ‘Bohemian’ are mostly used interchangeably, they differ in their meaning. The bohemian style was the original one with a free-spirited and eclectic aesthetic. The boho style emerged from the Bohemian style and features a modernized version of it. 

This short explanation generally defines the differences between the two. For a more in-depth look at the history of both as well as the main differences, read on! Additionally, in the end, we will explain to you when you should use boho and when bohemian.


The word bohemian comes from the French and means “Romani”. A person that either lives bohemian or dresses that way empathizes with a free-spiriteclectic aesthetic. Also, this style likes to wear bold-colored clothes with extravagant patterns and generally wide, flowing garments

The boho style on the other hand likes to incorporate modernitems of clothing as well as bold colors and unique patterns. Whilst it also features wide and flowing garments, there are more clean lines and modern silhouettes to it.

As a general rule, you can use these two expressions interchangeably though. The exact differences we will discuss now, starting with a brief history overview. 

History overview

The woman wears a boho dress with red and blue and unique patterns and also wears a red hat. She holds a ukulele.
Source: Freepik

Bohemian style

The bohemian style emerged in the late 19th century to early 20th century in the USA and Europe. It derives from a lifestyle of an alternative way of living compared to the then rather formal and civilized lifestyle where you would get a job at a factory to work until you’re in your late 60s. 

The general lifestyle was characterized by an artistic approach without schedules and strictly social events. The movement began to gain popularity in the 1960s and 1970s as the hippie movement started with a sense of liberal thinking and self-expression. 

To this day, the bohemian style still neglects societal norms and ways of living. 

Boho style

The boho style emerged to be a more modern and trendier version of the bohemian style. It came up in the early 21st century and therefore shares no long history compared to its big brother.

This style combines many elements like the clothing from the hippie movements, bohemian garments, but also modern time fashion. It is popular in the younger generation and generally associated with a festival lifestyle and is generally defined by a carefree approach to life. Throughout the last couple of years, this style gained lots of popularity and even some designers like Isabel Marant incorporated this style into their fashion. 

Similarities of boho and bohemian style

This man wears a boho outfit. He wears some beige wide-legged pants and a vest and a button-down shirt. Also he wears a straw hat.
Source: Freepik

As one derives from the other there is a bunch of similarities that boho and bohemian style share. Their general lifestyle is defined by a carelessfree spirit, and eclectic attitude. Both individuality and self-expression are key elements of the boho and bohemian style. 

When it comes to clothing, both represent rather flowing garments with no classic silhouettesBright colors and unique patterns also can be seen on many of their clothes. 

Another thing that defines their clothing is the usage of natural elements. They do this to a level where even the natural classic style for example cannot compete. Also, they will fix and even make clothes on their own from time to time depending on how much people follow these aesthetics.

Lastly, the boho and bohemian style like to layer their clothes and add various accessories to create texture and personalize their looks. 

Key differences between boho and bohemian

As much as these two styles like to share similarities, we wouldn’t be here if there weren’t some notable differences. The first main difference, also the most obvious, is their history as boho style derives from bohemian style

Another main difference is their approach to the overall look and aesthetic. Boho style likes to keep rather clean lines and a more put-together look whereas the bohemian style is all about the free-flowing andeclectic aesthetic. Also, there is a difference in silhouettes. Boho style features rather structured silhouettes compared to the bohemian style where loose silhouettes are pretty common. This again refers to the free-flowing aesthetic. 

For colors, they both like it rather bright but boho focuses more on natural colors like brown and general earth tones. Bohemians on the other hand like to go full-on with bright colors

Generally speaking, the boho style is a hybrid that connects various influences like hippie and gypsy combined with bohemian style. Therefore, it features more trendy clothes in comparison to the bohemian style which likes to stick to its origins

Overall, we can see that the differences of both of these styles are quite clear and though they share many similarities, they are different. Now we will look at when to use which expression.

This woman wears a boho and bohemian outfit, a maxi dress of brown color and a slightly white pattern.
Source: Freepik/svetlanasokolova

When to use boho and bohemian

As a general rule, boho and bohemian can be used interchangeably. As there are some differences between them, we will now look at which one to use in which situation. 

In case you are clearly describing a style that was used in the 20th century, you should use bohemian as an expression as this was the style back then. In any other case, as this style is very popular nowadays, I would recommend using boho if you talk about style. Also, there are many types of boho style which you can find out more about here.

One exception is if you talk about culture. When talking about the culture of a certain group of people, bohemian is the more appropriate version to use as well as in scientific articles

We will use the expression boho most of the time as this blog is about style and aesthetics and therefore features boho style. Nevertheless, we will also use these words interchangeably from time to time. 


As you can see from this article, there is a lot more to define between boho and bohemian. Even though they are commonly used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between them, we hope you could catch up from this article. 

If you found this article helpful or want to give us some inspiration for future blog posts, don’t hesitate to write us a comment down below. 

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