The 1960s witnessed a major paradigm shift in the way the world viewed experiment and innovation. It was a time when the world acknowledged the strength of economy. It was an era that paved the stage for the 'information and communication revolution' that ushered in the 21st century.
Fashion naturally displayed the innermost recesses of the human psyche that was going through much change. The changes associated with women empowerment, various issues relating to human rights, and racial equality were reflected in the acceptance of casual, comfortable attire. Hippies experimented and handled trial and error with a sense of responsibility for their actions.
Who Were the Hippies?
Hippies were youngsters who rebelled and criticized middle class values, embraced aspects of non-Judeo-Christian religions, opposed the Vietnam War, promoted sexual liberation, and created intentional communities, often considering their tribe as a new religious movement.
Hippies fashion was embraced by the youth and even seniors across continents in the 1960s. The focus of the decade and years later was on the vibrancy of the apparel and accessories, and not on what others thought about a particular appearance. People, in general, sported clothes that they felt expressed themselves and their individualism, and not for the sake of pleasing the regular line of fashion. The empowering rock music and worldwide protests against social stigmas like apartheid churned out the blue jeans and denim. It was the age of casual attire; an age when people felt that drug addiction was okay to experiment with.
Hipsters and bell-bottom jeans, ankle fringes, flower patches, and peasant blouses were all part of the fray. T-shirts and skimpy halter-neck tops were part of everyday wear.
Women hippies wore long skirts and dresses that redefined what was 'acceptable'. The hemlines were difficult to digest for the conservatives of the era, and the micro and mini skirts were a cultural shock. Short skirts were worn with knee-high boots, while long flowing skirts were considered better matched with sandals.
Love for Flowers
Flowing ribbons in the hair or the dress was nothing unusual. Flowers strongly emphasized the hippie movement. They were used to represent peace and love. Tired of the toll that World War II took on culture and economy, the hippies sported floral patterns on dresses, skirts, and jeans. Artificial flower tiaras and real flowers were worn in the hair.
The 1960s' hippie fashion comprised apparel that would probably appeal to only the youth of today. Baby boomers, also called flower children, did not hesitate to flaunt flowers in their hair, much like the customs and sights of the Orient.
In the West, hippies also indulged in body painting, body piercing, and tattoo body art. Not much of this was ever appreciated by the older generation.
Men sported long, loose flowing hair, like the women. During the hippie movement, men and women grew their hair long, and avoided fussy styling and hair products, as braiding hair was popular. Usually, the hair was parted in the middle, and was bang-less. During this time period, long side burns were the thing for men.
The 'free look' comprised not focusing on what others thought of their self-expression through apparel, believing in 'equality for all' and protesting against social evils.
Fashion accessories during the '60s included bandanas and other headgear, like scarves. Hippies accessorized their hair with flowers or little hair clips or a colorful headband across their forehead. A thin ribbon tied at the back of the head with long, easy-flowing hair became an iconic look throughout that decade.
Women's jewelry was mostly influenced by nature, or derived from Native American or any similar handmade designs. Any necklace sporting a peace sign with beads was hugely popular. Jewelry that made music was highly desirable, since music was an essential part of the hippie scene. Necklaces that featured bells as pendants, and jangly ankle bracelets were popular among women.
In general, the ankles received a lot of attention, especially amongst those living on the warm west coast, because many hippies preferred to go barefoot.
The hippies fashion statement was a rage with the youth. It showed signs of fading out as they grew older. They pretty much lived up to The Days of Our Youth are the Days of Our Glory! Unlike the formal business environment today, way back in the 1960s, the hippies fashion trends offered clothing for work and leisure a very informal and casual look.
Fashion clothing was a form of counterculture and nonconformist. The personal expressions of people and the times resulted in easily recognizable styles that made a major impact on the contemporary world. Fashion was derived along the 'anything goes' line.
Hippies repelled the post-war ugliness in the world, and turned the attention of fashion stalwarts towards as much natural beauty as possible. The youth movement affected the teen fashion industry in a major way. Trends keep changing with time, but women who found their own individuality and style in the 1960s have never let it go, and passed much of their own hippie influence onto their daughters.