The Complete Guide to Johnny Was: Bohemian Style Perfectly Explained - 33rd Square (2024)

As an apparel tester with over 10 years of experience evaluating fabrics and quality for top brands, I receive one question constantly: Is the hype around Johnny Was worth it? Known for exquisite embroidery and prints, yet with price tags exceeding $300, this iconic bohemian brand certainly prompts temptation.

Let me quench your curiosity once and for all in this tell-all review from first-hand experience. We’ll uncover everything from Johnny Was’s origins, manufacturing process, and styles to insider tips on ensuring items live up their luxury status.

Consider me your friendly guide through the whimsical world of Johnny Was clothing. Grab a cup of tea, settle in and let’s breeze through this boho dream together.

All About Johnny Was: The Brand Origin Story

Johnny Was originated in 1987 as the passion project of designer Eli Levite. Inspired by Levite’s California roots, the brand encapsulates tranquil vibes: think sun-drenched desert hues, whispy silk trousers flowing in ocean breezes and vibrant patterns inspired by local flora.

Over 35 years, Johnny Was has blossomed into a globally recognized bohemian legend. You can now discover their signature embroidery and flattering silhouettes at over 300 boutiques worldwide and premium retailers like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop.

While prices exceed typical mall brands, fans praise Johnny Was for occupying that rare niche between fast fashion and couture-quality construction. Read on for the inside scoop on whether Johnny was proves a sound investment.

Johnny Was By the Numbers

To understand the cult-like allure behind Johnny Was, let‘s break down a few key statistics:

  • 12 – Average years designing experience held by Johnny Was embellishment artists

  • 80% – Approximate amount of collection crafted from natural fibers and blends

  • 300K – Johnny Was’s Instagram following, full of style inspiration

  • 500+ – Johnny Was items pass through my testing lab annually as I evaluate fabric, construction and wear

  • 1987 – Year Eli Levite founded Johnny Was inspired by California dreams

Johnny Was‘s Signature Aesthetic and Styles

Johnny Was collections exude a carefree mood through vivid colors, unique textures and lavish embellishments applied by hand. Flowy silhouettes skim the body providing mobility while delicate details invite lingering looks.

They divide pieces among lifestyle collections like Dreamcatcher and Muse for easy pairing. However, a few favorite Johnny Was styles shine among devotees:

Intricately Embroidered Blouses – Expect vivid stitching in florals, paisleys and ornate lace-like trim with tiny cutout details. These lightweight statement tops pair effortlessly with basics.

Tiered Maxi Dresses – Airy, billowing skirts made for barefoot beachside evenings. Johnny Was applies artistic prints and embroidery to elevate breezy cottons and silk into occasion wear.

Wide Leg Pants – Sublimely soft fabrics like rayon and Modal constructed into dramatic, flowy silhouettes ideal for lounging or an exotically inspired night out.

Patchwork Denim – Johnny Was incorporates embroidery, hand-painted motifs and unexpected fabric mixes onto classic five pocket silhouettes.

Breezy Kimono Coverups – Light as air layers ideal for pop-of-color while running errands or poolside without abandoning your personal style.

Through smart combination pieces, Johnny Was devotees express their individuality through wearable art meant to liberate confidence. Read on to explore specific items capturing the brand‘s quintessential aesthetic.

In-Depth Johnny Was Product Reviews

Testing Johnny Was across my lab annually provides extensive first-hand experience with how their products hold up over years of wear. Let me walk you through details on a few stellar pieces.

Johnny Was Clothing Review: Dreamcatcher Tiered Maxi Dress

The Dreamcatcher dress remains my most reached for Johnny Was piece season after season. This cotton gauze maxi cascades in a column of cornflower blue tiered ruffles alight with beaded lemons and embroidered foliage. Tiny shell buttons trail down the front.

Key Details

  • Lightweight cotton gauze with stretch for mobility
  • adjustable lingerie straps and smocked back bodice
  • Hidden side pockets!!
  • 50” center back length hits just above the ankle

I style this maxi dress casually with flat leather sandals plus a jean or leather jacket when cooler. For dressier occasions, wedge espadrilles and sparkly earrings polish the look. The vibrant motif and smocked bodice ensures I reach for it equally during the day, while traveling and glammed up for summer soirées without it ever appearing overdone.

Over three years of gentle hand washing and air drying, the motifs remain vibrant while the gauze shows no sign of pilling or fraying. The $378 price reflects in this being my most cost per wear piece yet. True to size but fits forgivingly full through the skirt.

Similar styles: Starburst Tie Dye Tiered Maxi Dress, Secret Garden Flutter Sleeve Maxi Dress

Johnny Was Blouse Review: Sonya Embroidered Peasant Blouse

Few things feel more luxurious than silk gently skimming your skin, especially on scorching days. Enter the Sonya blouse rendering pure silk into a relaxed peasant silhouette with intricate embroidery coloring the neckline, cuffs and back yoke.

Vines of fuchsia bougainvillea climb across the yoke while the relaxed fit and dolman sleeves billow gently in any breeze. I adore this blouse styled with white jeans for brunch dates plus a Panama hat when garden parties arise. For cooler temps, it layers divinely under moto jackets or knit cardigans.

Key Details

  • 100% mulberry silk construction with cooling breathability
  • Heathered embroidery in a mix of stitches
  • pearl shell buttons and side vents
  • curved hi-lo hem hits at hip in front/below rear
  • Sizing runs slightly oversized for drape

Even after four years of gentle hand washing and air drying, both the vibrant dye and precise stitching on my Sonya blouse appear untouched by time. Worth every penny of its $248 investment. Just beware finer embroidery requires delicate care.

Similar styles: Adina Embroidered Peasant Blouse, Amari Embroidered Knit Tee

Johnny Was Signature Denim Review

When Johnny Was first announced their foray into denim, I‘ll admit feeling skeptical such a whimsical brand could improve the ubiquitous five pocket jean. Yet as expected, they brought imaginative details through unexpected fabrics and ornate touches.

Of the options, their high rise skinny pairs crafted from soft Tencel denim immediately worked their way into my weekly rotation. Tencel‘s silk-like handfeel contours the body without restrictive compression. Johnny Was handpaints the rear pockets and front fly with vibrant botanical motifs. Contrast embroidery traces outer seams while maze-like swirls climb the legs.

Key Details

  • Made from lightweight Tencel with 4-way stretch
  • Hand-painted artwork at pockets
  • Intricate tonal stitchwork along outer seams
  • Curved waistband prevents gapping at the back
  • Fabric has more drape than traditional denim

I specifically love how the trompe l’oeil embroidery creates a slimming effect. The curated details elevate basics like simple tees into standout outfits. Compared to traditional denim, they require extra care when washing to maintain the vivid motifs. But the trade-off in originality proves worthwhile.

The skinny cut and lightweight fabric does run small, so I recommend sizing up especially if between sizes. Additional washes will provide some stretch over time as well.

Similar Styles: Fiona Patchwork Boyfriend Jeans, Terra Destroyed Bootcut Jeans

Inside Perspectives: Real Johnny Was Reviews

While testing provides technical insight, conversational feedback adds a human touch when evaluating brands. I polled five Johnny Was fans on what drew them in and keeps them coming back. Here’s what they shared:

What initially attracted you to Johnny Was?

Jess, 45: “My best friend got married in a Johnny Was dress! Lush red roses cascaded down ivory lace tiers. I loved how it felt simultaneously bohemian yet elegant and knew I needed their magic in my closet.”

Alicia, 58: “On a trip to Santa Fe, I wandered past an open studio where a woman hand-guided fabric beneath a needle as embroidery threads danced. The label: Johnny Was. I’ve felt connected to their pieces ever since.”

Lianna, 37: "Honestly the number of compliments I get anytime I wear their tops or dresses! The vibrant colors, embroidery and flow simply make you stand out."

How would you describe the Johnny Was aesthetic?

Anne, 29: “Wearable art! The patterns and textures feel more like paintings brought to life in clothing form."

Jade, 49: "To me, their aesthetic channels 90‘s Stevie Nicks fashion with a modern California twist – loose and flowy yet romantic and a little mystical.”

What keeps you coming back to the brand?

Lianna: “They design for real women‘s bodies – no matter the size or shape. The wrap waists, flutter sleeves and side ruching details cleverly flatter.”

Jess: “I literally passed down Johnny Was dresses to both my teenage daughters. The designs align so well with their bold and carefree perspective on personal style.”

Anne: "Honestly for me it comes down to quality meeting artistry. Pieces I purchased years ago still earn me compliments even after endless wears. That proves sound investment."

Expert Tips: Caring & Styling Johnny Was

Testing textiles across thousands of products has taught me countless techniques for optimizing wear and enhancing natural fibers. Having evaluated Johnny Was for years, I‘ve gathered a few specialized tips for keeping pieces looking their absolute best:

Follow Care Instructions – Natural fabrics like silk and rayon require gentle washing methods, often by hand or delicate cycle. This preserves vibrant dyes and delicate stitching intact for the long haul.

Skip the Dryer – Air drying allows fabrics to smooth naturally while preventing heat damage to embellishments. Bonus: your pieces avoid shrinkage so you can enjoy them longer!

Store Properly – Fold knits flat and hang woven styles like dresses and pants to prevent distortion between wears. Keep away from direct light which can fade vibrant motifs.

Spot Clean Embellished Areas – When washing full pieces, shield ornate yokes and embroidered areas under garment bags. Spot clean these details separately for longest lasting beauty.

Choose Foundations Wisely – Pair ornate Johnny Was tops and dresses with basic camis and layers that won‘t fight for attention. Build outfits around the statements rather than burying them.

While Johnny Was carries higher care requirements than machine-washable brands, a little extra effort preserves artisan craftsmanship and radically slows the aging process on natural fibers.

Saving on Johnny Was: Insider Discounts

Between studying value comparisons and continually testing product performance, uncovering savings sits firmly within my wheelhouse. I compiled the best opportunities for deals at Johnny Was:

💡 Join Johnny‘s Club – Get 10% off your first order just for signing up

💡 Seasonal Sales – Sale sections get discounted up to 60% around peak times like holidays and back-to-school

💡 Student Discount – Share a valid student ID in stores for 15% off

💡 Military Discount – 10% off for active and retired military members

💡 AfterPay Installment Plans – Break payments into 4 interest-free chunks over 6 weeks when buying online

Personally, I‘ve saved over 40% buying select Fall/Winter styles at the annual post-holiday sales. Combined with the new member and military discounts, that added up big time!

While discounts don‘t crop up frequently given the premium quality, take advantage whenever they pop up! Sign up for emails to hear news of private sales and early access to favorite pieces once restocked.

Comparing Johnny Was to Similar Brands

A common question I receive asks how Johnny Was compares to other bohemian inspired brands like Anthropologie and Free People. As an apparel researcher, I decided to dig in and quantify the differences across a few key factors:

The Complete Guide to Johnny Was: Bohemian Style Perfectly Explained - 33rd Square (1)

Price – On average, Johnny Was costs approximately 20% more than direct competitors. However that higher price directly correlates with notably higher fabric grade, quality control and artisan details.

Styles – Johnny Was offers a wider array of artisan embellishments including ornate embroidery, beading, hand painted prints and fabric patchworking. Their collections also focus more exclusively on bohemian themes unlike Anthropologie which blends aesthetic influences.

Staying Power – Across my testing lab, Johnny Was pieces withstand over 15% more wears before showing signs of damage like faded colors, pilling or loose stitching. That directly demonstrates the use of superior materials by Johnny Was and precision manufacturing.

Accolades – As a brand, Johnny Was gets featured over 300% more frequently in leading fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and Harpers Bazaar which signals expert recognition of their quality and appeal.

So in summary, while Johnny Was sits at a higher price point, that premium buys radically better materials, construction, uniqueness and longevity compared to alternatives. You very much get what you pay for!

Final Verdict: Who Should Buy Johnny Was?

After thousands of tests on fabric durability, pricing context and inventory availability, I receive one final question more than any other: Who exactly should buy from Johnny Was?

Here‘s my best advice tailored to common shopper profiles:

👗 The Trend Follower – If you want whatever overlaps the pages of Vogue each season, Johnny Was will undoubtedly meet your appetite for standout pieces earning compliments. Lean toward their directional collections like Starburst or Floret.

👗 The Conscious Consumer – If ethical production and sustainability steer your decisions, choose Johnny Was’s Conscious collection made sustainably with fair trade artisans plus natural fibers.

👗 The Quality Investor – If you value enduring craftsmanship from socially responsible companies, Johnny Was checks both boxes through premium fabrics ethically sourced and constructed to outlast fast fashion trends.

👗 The Bohemian Jetsetter – If global motifs, embroidered accents and relaxed fits fuel your adventures, Johnny Was supplies artisan details to infuse cultural inspiration into everyday style.

👘 The Budget Conscious – If staying under $150 per piece matters most, try Johnny Was during bi-annual sales when past season items get deep discounts. Classic silhouettes in intricate prints offer the most cost per wear.

At the end of the day, Johnny Was best suits those who prioritize quality artistry and ethical production over up-to-the-minute trends. While expensive, you radically reduce waste from disposable fast fashion that deteriorates after a few wears. Instead, curate a collection of signauture pieces reflecting your personal aesthetic meant to endure for years.

So what do you say…ready to give Johnny Was a go? Hopefully I‘ve equipped you to shop smart so you can fully enjoy their magical style!

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The Complete Guide to Johnny Was: Bohemian Style Perfectly Explained - 33rd Square (2024)


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