Flashing back to the '60s

May 16, 2006|by CHRISTINE BRUGH and HIRA ZEB

The clothes


Think about this: The next time you put on a pair of jeans, you have the hippie generation to thank. Fifty years ago, on a typical day, girls wore skirts and dresses. It was in the '60s that jeans became part of young peoples' wardrobes.

Wearing jeans was a prominent part of hippie culture. A major influence on hippie fashion was raging about the Establishment. To a hippie in the 1960s, the Establishment meant government, religion, education and anyone in a position of power.

The youth rebellion in the '60s extended into clothes. However, it wasn't really about the clothes. It was about the message that clothing represented.


Hippies were all about equality. They brought blue jeans into everyday wear because blue jeans were workers' clothes. Anti-Establishment teens wanted to experience what the working class was experiencing. Blue jeans were also the clothes of prison inmates, so, by wearing these, hippies were humbling themselves. They thought that it was unjust for some people to be living in comfort while others suffered. Some young adults also felt that they were liberating themselves from their parents by wearing working-class clothing.

There were leaders of this rebellion. Model Lesley Hornby, known as "Twiggy," led this revolution with her short, boyish haircut, which spoke of rebellion. Peter Max was a painter whose designs were used in clothing, posters and record album covers. The vibrant, psychedelic designs expressed desire for freedom. Peter Max defined fashion for the decade.

Hippies brought into style many homemade items. A very prominent item was the tie-dyed shirt. Hippies' tie-dyed clothes weren't always bright and multicolored. Sometimes tie-dye could be one color, just in different shades.

In the 1960s, students studied Eastern religions, which brought Indian-style shirts and skirts into popular fashion for both boys and girls. There was a strong interest in these religions because hippies wanted to explore alternatives to mainstream belief.

A few things from hippie fashion have not carried over. Currently, there are distinct clothing styles for boys and girls, and regular grooming is a must.

Although the message that hippies were trying to present through their clothing may be dead, much of the fashion lives on.

- Sources: and; and Twiggy Lawson's Web site at

The music


Teenagers living dangerously on the edge, breaking away from their parents' values, and absurdly thinking they could actually change the world. The nation and the world were in constant motion, led by leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.

Music was an expression of speech, a statement, an assertion, response to daily life, and simple lyrical conversation.

Popular artists in the 1960s included Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, James Brown and so many more. A lot of people think that this music represented the youth culture and their peaceful but rebellious behavior. Some of these people turned out to be hippies, those who preached nonviolence, mysticism and honesty. Music became their emotional outlet.

The early '60s embraced folk music, the most popular folk singers of the time being Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. This music, combined with the civil rights movement, led to the rise of "message songs." Examples of such songs are "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, "People Got To Be Free" by The Rascals, and Joan Baez's recording of "We Shall Overcome."

Another trademark of hippie culture was drug use, resulting in music known as "acid rock." This music advocated and glorified the use of drugs, mostly by artists such as Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

The majority of the music in the '60s reflected attitudes toward the government and society, as well as social issues, such as civil rights, women's equality and the antiwar movement. They truly believed they were going to make a difference, wholeheartedly agreeing with Willy Wonka when he says: "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."

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