What hippies wore was an act of protest against their society. Their old and ill-fitting clothes rejected the growing emphasis on consumerism and trend-following in mid-’60s culture. Countering the “mod” preference of sleek and tight, hippie silhouettes were loose, unstructured, and topheavy. Even mod materialism was turned on its head — designer clothes did not make the hippie who he was, but instead the hippie made his clothes reflect himself. Articles of clothing could be hand-personalized through acid washing, dyeing, painting, pins, studs, beading, patches, and embroidery. Today, it is just as easy to purchase clothes with the “work” done for you, but nothing can replace getting your own hands dirty. Perfection was never the goal. Disruption was.
Hippies Fashion for Men
Accessorizing is key to an accurate 1960s hippie outfit. Bandannas, scarves, and jewelry were all very common for both women and men. Necklaces and bracelets were worn by the dozen and made of leather, hemp, or straw. They could be beaded (donkey beads were particularly popular) or wrapped in fabric. Rings and wider bangle bracelets were popular, and these, too, could be worn to excess. Jewelry among hippies was not regarded for its quality or status, and cheap costume jewelry was preferable for its price point.
Hats, when worn, followed no rhyme or reason: while women often sought the most gigantic and floppiest floppy hat, men could be seen wearing decorated cowboy hats, bucket hats, top hats, and even women’s cloches. Belts for both sexes were either a thin strip of cloth or thick and detailed with a large belt buckle.
Sunglasses were primarily either round or oversized plastic frames, with other novelty shapes such as hearts or squares appearing more often on performers than hippies themselves. Gradient lenses hit the mainstream in the mid-’60s and grew to dominate sunglasses in the later years, however hippies did not typically wear them until the early ’70s. Instead, round frames tinted with a pastel color became the fad in hippie circles. These rounds could be standard or oversized and were most popular in pink, purple, blue, and yellow.
Shoes were optional, but when worn, basic styles dominated – boots and sandals were most common, with brown being the preferred color. Simple lace-up canvas shoes did well enough for most seeking comfortable and cheap footwear. As “trendier” hippies joined in the later years, mainstream shoes such as go-go boots, winklepickers, and chukka boots bled into hippie fashion. This was an extension of mod fashion. Stick to sandals (or go barefoot) for the more organic 1960s hippie look. Similarly, Birkenstock shoes were not available domestically in the 1960s, and only took off as a (male dominated) shoe brand in 1973.
‘60S HIPPIE FASHION FOR WOMEN
Mounting feminist attitudes and the “free love” mindset within hippie culture led to a spike in androgyny and rule-bending. Hippie women could and often did wear men’s clothing. Men’s tee shirts and pants were comfortable, and oversized men’s jackets and workshirts were easily appropriated into minidresses. Makeup was rare, bras were optional, and grooming was minimal. Towards the later ’60s, women wore their shirts tied up or cut short to expose their midriffs. Among hippies, it was an era of “anything goes.”
On the more feminine side, women’s hippie fashion brought back smocked maxi length dresses, A-line skirts, and wide-leg beach pants. Made of light fabrics such as cotton or linen, these were typically either bright solids or ethnic prints. Clean, modest column-shaped dresses from the early 20th century were bought from antique stores and worn without regard for the tighter, shorter ’60s silhouette. On the dresses, bishop sleeves and exaggerated bell sleeves kept with the hippy-dippy trend of loose and flowing fabric. So did peasant blouses, kimono shawls, ponchos, and screen-printed scarves, with the added benefit of more versatility than dresses.