To be a true hippie of the 1960s a combination of the mindset, music, and drug use was required. Fashion was also a very large part of the hippie culture and made them easy to spot in a crowd. Hippie clothing styles were new and different than a lot of the clothing in previous decades. Also the extreme colors and design made hippie fashion very noticeable. While a lot of the things hippies did and events they attended were looked down upon, these events were what made the hippie culture and fashion sense thrive even now. Although a true hippie movement like the one of the 60s can has not been recreated, the fashion, music, and lifestyles of hippies during that time currently serve as icons for many people.
The hippie lifestyle and fashion era originated in the mid-1960s in the United States. Some of the clothing and styles are still seen in the current world today. The term hippie was initially used to describe the beatniks. Beatniks were younger people that were associated with rejecting moral values and psychedelic drugs during the 1950s and 1960s. They would wear their bellbottom jeans and are known for their tie dyed shirts, shorts, and other apparel. A new fashion sense was not the only thing that the hippie culture brought to the world. Being a hippie was a lifestyle. These people would create their own communities where they would live together with similar music interests and other lifestyle choices and practice “free love”. Free love had the goal of removing the state from all sexual matters such as abortion or marriage. There were high amounts of drug use among hippies, including LSD, cannabis, and peyote. The Summer of Love, Human Be-in, and Woodstock were all major events where many hippies came together. The bright colors and designs that many hippies arrayed themselves in later influenced artists and designs on some homes and vehicles that were used by hippies themselves. The hippie way of life was simple, as a lot of their shopping was done at flea markets and secondhand stores. With new clothing styles, big events, and drug use, being a hippie was a new way of life.
The styles that hippies were not only about how they looked, with the bright colors and tie dye designs, but were also about comfort and getting back to nature. Both men and women wore their hair very long and let it down free. They would sometimes put it back with headbands or cover it with a headscarf. Women often went without makeup and some even went bra-less. They continued to be more natural by going barefoot, or if necessary, would wear sandals. Loose fitting clothing also seemed to be a large part of hippie fashion. Men would sport bellbottoms and dashikis. Dashikis were tops that covered the top half of men’s bodies. They originated in West Africa and were loose fitting with a V-neck and were always very colorful. The extreme colors could go along with the tie dye that many hippies were also wearing. Women were wearing long flowing skirts and peasant blouses, basically just t-shirts. There was also a certain type of jewelry that was popular among the hippie culture. A lot of the jewelry was Native American and both men and women would be found wearing long braided necklaces. It was not only jewelry, but much of the clothing and other accessories worn by hippies was influenced by Native Americans. They were also inspired by Indian, Asian, Latin American, and African cultures.
There were several events throughout the 60s that popularized hippie culture. A few of these events included Human Be-In in January 1967, the Summer of Love during the summer of 1967, and Woodstock in August of 1969. Human Be-In was held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There were nearly thirty thousand hippies that gathered at Golden Gate Park and celebrated their culture. Turkey sandwiches were handed out that had LSD slipped into them. The event was being covered by the media who were “treated to an all-out drug exhibition as drug addled hippies danced and sang before the cameras”. There have been several other “be-in” occasions that came after the original Human Be-In. A few months later, the Summer of Love was in full swing. Throughout the summer of 1967, hippies all over the country as well as Canada and Europe were expressing themselves and starting a “hippie revolution”. There were hundreds of thousands of people in all the major cities, but San Francisco remained the center of it all. The young people continued to express their beliefs and pushed the counterculture movement forward. The counterculture movement involved many major issues such as human sexuality, women’s rights, and argued for different means of authority. Lastly, Woodstock was a major event in hippie culture and caused a lot of attention from the media. It seemed as though the media paid so much attention to the large crowds and concerns for public safety, that the true significance of the event was not expressed. The event was held to celebrate hippie culture and this was not expressed much at all through the media. This seemed to be the case for many of the hippie cultural events. The newspapers and magazine articles did not show the peace and new ideas that the young people were trying to propose, but instead focused on the drugs and danger that could evolve during this event. The Summer of Love and Woodstock were meant for hippies to come together and celebrate their culture. It was a time to be who you are and express the new culture and changes in fashion that came with the hippie movement.
The use of psychedelic drugs was a part of hippie culture. Many of the young people liked to experience with hallucinogenic drugs and liked to alter their consciousness. Many of the drugs used included LSD, peyote, cannabis, and psilocybin mushrooms. Timothy Leary and Owsley Stanley were two of the many to try to create these events to express hippie culture and use different drugs. Of the hippies using these drugs, many believed that the drugs were positively beneficial. The benefits included relaxation from marijuana or as “a means for gaining insight with which to redirect the course of one’s life along inwardly more satisfying and self-fulfilling lines.” This second benefit was usually and effect of LSD. LSD was a very popular drug used among hippies. A tablet of about 185 micrograms would be taken to be “turned on”. Once “turned on” you would “take a trip.” One of the hippies’ missions was to “turn the world on” and make the world recognize the positive effects that some drugs can have on people. Using LSD was said to cause a gaining of insight on worldly matters and they thought that this could help change the world. It could help with the push for universal freedom, love, and peace. Another popular drug was Methedrine, which hippies typically preferred to inject intravenously. Some side effects include wakefulness and heightened spontaneous activity, which could help hippies push their movement forward. There were also a lot of negative side effects. Many of these effects included loss of appetite, blurred vision, high blood pressure, and paranoia. Although there were some negative side effects to the drug used by hippies, they believed that these drugs could help push their peaceful movement forward and help to change the world.
There are now exhibits that demonstrate hippie fashion and attempt to show the impact that hippies had on the political and fashion world. One exhibit curator states that “time has made the hippies a charming generation”. The new hippie fashion movement really changed how people had to dress. Things didn’t have to match anymore and outfits didn’t have to come in a set. The curator also states the “true hippies mixed everything together’. It no longer mattered when the clothes looked like and how they went together. Hippies just wanted to be free and comfortable and wear whatever they wanted. The hippie style can truly be described as “anything goes”.
There were definitely some traces of the hippie culture that came up throughout the next few decades. According to a Psychology Today article, we may be having a hippie comeback in this decade. It is said that this generation is returning to the hippie era. As the past few decades consisted of young people largely involved in consumerism, there is a change in the way they are living now. Many of these affluent young men and women are no longer spending a lot money at fancy shops and on special foods. They are finding a greater appreciation for locally grown foods and hand-made products. There is also a change in the way they spend their time. Volunteerism and giving back and two things that are a lot more common among this new wave of hippies. There is a want and a need for change and the hippies, or hipsters, are ready to fight for it. The hipsters of America are fighting for everyone to “just do something.” Social media has also played a big role in the spread of this new hippie culture. With Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the messages and styles of hippies can be shared with people all over the world. In most cases, young people nowadays are just searching for a simpler life.
Bellbottoms were a form of hippie fashion that has continued to move with each generation. Thought many of the decades after the hippie movement, and even now, bellbottoms can be seen being worn by many young people. Bellbottoms, as many know, are pants that have a bell shaped bottom formed by the pants getting wider from the knee down. Bellbottoms were originally seen in the US Navy uniforms, which had pants that widened at the bottom. In the 1960s, this style became a fashion trend for hippies in the United States. Specifically in 1967 bellbottoms were taken over by hippies. They were generally worn with tie dye shirts and colorful headbands pulling back the long hair. Again in the late 1990s, these pants were reintroduced into the fashion world and have been around even since. The bellbottoms of this decade are have much less flare and are generally denim. Wearing bellbottoms in the 1960s was not only a fashion statement but with other accessories, was also seen as a strong antiwar statement. The combination of blue bellbottoms with any flowered or peace sign embellished clothing was a very anti-Vietnam war statement during that time. There were even some clothing producers that refused to sell bellbottoms because they were afraid of the message that would send. This did not stop hippies from wearing what they wanted. If bellbottoms could not be found in the local stores, they would cut their straight leg pants and sew on extra fabric to make them a bell shape.
Tie dye is another style of clothing that can be identified with hippies. The colorful designs of tie dye t-shirts have traveled through the decades and are still being used today. The earliest examples of tie dying was in 500 AD Peru where they would dye fabrics in designs of small circles and lines. Later on, in the 1960s, hippies took over the tie dye fashion and made it a symbol of who they were and what they stood for. The peace sign was also seen alongside the tie dye shirts. The tie dye trend followed the example of rock star Janis Joplin. Tie dying was also a cheap way to customize clothing and make creative designs in whatever style and colors you wanted. Although the hippies of the 1960s did not invent the tie dye fashion, they reintroduced the style to the world and was somewhat used it as a symbol for peace and freedom. The trend continues to be used in the present decade, but is not necessarily used for a symbol of peace, rather just for fun.
There were some fashion icons that really brought the hippie style to life. Some of these stars included Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin, as stated before, was one of the fashion icons for tie dye in the 1960s. She was a well-known American singer who was part of a psychedelic rock band. She also performed at Woodstock, where her psychedelic music could really be appreciated. There are many young girls that look to Janis Joplin as a fashion icon when going to music festivals, as well as everyday fashion. One event that is similar to some of the 1960s hippie festivals is Coachella. Coachella is a music festival held in California that features indie, rock, and electronic dance music. Many of the young people attending Coachella sport styles of fashion that resemble hippie fashion. One article states that many of the young women have tried to modernize the Janis Joplin styles, and are not staying true to the original fashion. As the fashion trends of many hippie icons is still thriving today, a lot of the icons themselves died at a young age due to a drug overdose.
The hippie fashion and clothing styles is something that has lasted several decades, and continues to influence the wardrobe of many people of different ages. True hippies were all about comfort, bright colors and designs, and living a simple life the way they wanted. Being a hippie was a lifestyle, with a hope for universal peace, a love for music and drugs, and a colorful taste in fashion. The 1960s held several music festivals including Woodstock and the Summer of Love, where thousands of hippies would join together a there would be a lot of drug use. There are similar events today, such as Coachella, where young hipsters come together to enjoy music and the styles displayed at these events are all very similar to those of the 1960s. It is said that we may be entering a new era of hippies, as the younger people are wishing for peace and enjoying simple things again. It’s not all about how much it spent anymore; hand-crafted goods and second hand items are very common among current hippies. All of these things can be seen in the current and last few decades, proving that the hippie culture and style had a big impact on the fashion world and continues to influence new clothing every year.
- Buerger, Megan. 2013. “REVIEW — Icons: Retracing the Steps of Fashion’s Long, Strange Trip.” Wall Street Journal, Jul 13. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1399662882?accountid=12756.
- Davis, Fred. “Heads and Freaks: Patterns and Meanings of Drug Use Among Hippies.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 9, no. 2 (1968): 156-64. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2948334?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.
- Haddock, B. “The Hippie Counter Culture Movement (1960’s).” Mortal Journey. March 9, 2011. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.mortaljourney.com/2011/03/1960-trends/hippie-counter-culture-movement.
- “Here’s a Janis Joplin Clothing Line. Because You’re Doing Festivals Wrong.” Racked. August 6, 2014. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.racked.com/2014/8/6/7582967/malyn-joplin-to-launch.
- Ray, Barbara. “A New Generation of “hippies” Seeking Meaning beyond the Mall.” Psychology Today. May 11, 2011. Accessed April 27, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adulthood-whats-the-rush/201105/new-generation-hippies-seeking-meaning-beyond-the-mall.
- Sheehy, Michael. 2012. “Woodstock: How the Media Missed the Historic Angle of the Breaking Story.” Journalism History 37 (4): 238-246. http://search.proquest.com/docview/922364262?accountid=12756
- Southern, Mara. “Hippie and College Students: Are They Really Different?” AM Science Public. 1972. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.amsciepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pr0.19188.8.131.523.
- Vintage, LA. “Vintage Clothing Trends: The Rise and Fall of Bell-Bottoms.” Divine Caroline. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.divinecaroline.com/fashion/whats-hot/vintage-clothing-trends-rise-and-fall-bell-bottoms.
Return to Homepage