How to Dress Like a Hippie
Whether you're going to a costume party or changing your style, looking like a hippie isn't really all that hard; after all, one of the tenets of being a hippie is that natural is beautiful – and that your hippie clothes are a chance to express yourself, not enhance yourself. To dress like a hippie, try the following suggestions.
Hippie-fying From the Waist Up
Wear used clothes. Shop at thrift stores, flea markets, and, whenever possible, garage sales. Though you can find gear designed to look “hippie” in other places (like New Age stores and eBay), the whole point of hippie fashion was to stop buying what big corporations were selling in favor of used clothing that was purchased locally.
- Many hippies are into sewing and other handcrafts; if you can make your own clothes, that's even better. In making your own clothes, a little effort goes a long way; something that was made by you nets you a lot more credit than something that was anonymously bought from someone else.
Choose loose, comfortable, and natural tops. A simple tee will work if you have other accessories to dress it up with, but try to opt for faded, old, or used tees. (If you're a woman, wear a soft, cotton bra — no under-wire or padding — or don't wear a bra at all.) Hipsters have largely claimed the ironic and retro tees, but that doesn't mean you can't dabble, too. Still, there are other options for you to try if you want to branch out:
- Incorporate tie-dyed tops into your repertoire. Sure, they probably shouldn't be worn every day, but once in a while, they're a great alternative.
- Dashikis can add beautiful color and tribal patterns to an otherwise drab outfit.
- India is another source of hippie clothing inspiration.
- Nice, long-sleeved peasant blouses are an especially popular choice among hippies, as they're stylish without being fussy.
Try out a vest. A vest is a great option for accessorizing with other tops. In the '60s, at the height of hippiedom, the suede fringe vest was a classic option for man and woman alike. There's a lot that says "hippie," but this screams "hippie." Alternately, any variety of vest should work:
- Long vs. short
- Colorful vs. monochrome
- Loose vs. tight
Carefully choose your kind of jacket. Although the vintage denim jacket is classic hippie, there are other options if you want to spice things up. If it has beads, embroidery, or patterned trim, go for it. Leather, suede, sheepskin, or even fur (although if you're an animal-conscious hippie, you may want to steer clear) are all fair game. An army jacket could also be appropriate in some situations, although some hippies might misinterpret the clothing. You could embroider peaceful slogans on it to make your intentions clear.
- Hoodies, although comfortable, are not generally thought of as hippie material. You can wear them in a pinch, but don't rely on them.
- In general, stick to older jackets. Newer tees can be made to fit into hippie wardrobe, but newer jackets are hard to incorporate.
Hippie-fying From the Waist Down
Go for denim bell bottoms. Faded, torn, or patched jeans will work if the rest of the outfit is sufficiently hippie, but the holy grail of hippie bottoms is none other than the denim bell bottoms. Men and women both wore these; they're a staple of hippie culture.
- Embroider a peace-sign patch on your bell-bottoms.
- Denim, corduroy, or patterned pants will work as long as it has that characteristically hippie flair at the bottom. In fact, these might be a good alternative to your best pair of denim bell bottoms.
- Having trouble finding bell bottoms in this age of the skinny jeans? Here's a tutorial on how to turn a pair of jeans into bell bottoms.
Get some denim shorts, especially if they're ripped or torn. Or better yet, rehab your old ones by fraying, ripping, or tearing them (although it's not strictly necessary). If you're male, turn your old jeans into cutoffs. If you're female, try turning your old jeans into short shorts.
- Really, the grungier, the better, especially if you're a dude. You're not really concerned with your clothes being pristine and pressed.
Utilize your options if you're a lady. There's much more that you can do with bottoms as a female. Take advantage of it! If the weather allows, you have many options. Consider:
- Loose, flowy skirts (think gypsy style)
- Dresses such as tunics or sundresses
- Even mini- or micro-skirt (especially if paired with above-the-knee boots).
- Many male hippies did wear robes or even skirts. There are skirts made especially for men. Don't be afraid to wear what feels right regardless of gender.
Choose the right kind of sandal or flip-flop. Though hippies made a point of going barefoot, they often wear flat sandals when this isn’t practical. After all, no shirt, no shoes, no service.
- The sandals most often associated with hippies are Birkenstocks. They have cork bottoms and leather upper material.
- Try also leather flip flops. They're easy to put on and pull off and look great with dresses and skirts.
Try on some hippie boots. Especially in colder weather, or if you want to dress up your outfit, you can try on some boots. Hippie boots are generally suede or leather and could almost pass for booties in a pinch.
Know that many hippies also wear moccasins. Any style of moccasins will work, but they should be comfortable. Many moccasins will have bead work on parts of the shoe.
Accessorizing Your Look
Put on select handcrafted jewelry. Bonus hippie points if you make your own. See our articles on making jewelry. Try the following pieces of jewelry for a hippie flavor:
- Long beaded necklaces and macrame
- Natural stones
- Peace charms
- Large, ethnic-inspired earrings
Choose your belt. A wide leather belt, peace-symbol belt, or chain belt would work nicely. Anything that says DIY or vintage pretty much goes.
- If you're a very DIY kind of person, a simple shoelace can be tied through your belt loops and then fastened in a bow knot. This is a great trick used mostly by male hippies who don't want to purchase a belt but who still want support on their trousers.
If you don’t mind altering your clothes, add fringes. In fact, add fringes to everything you can get away with. Back in the day, this was done to pants, shirts, vests, jackets, or anything else that could feasibly be fringed.
Embroider your clothes and paint your face. Embroider brightly colored flowers, stars, birds, and slogans like "love" and "peace" on your clothes. American flag patches, pins, and patterns are also popular as part of the anti-war movement. For festive occasions, decorate yourself with face paint.
Slap on some ankle bells. You'll be heard coming from a mile away, but gosh-dangit you'll be authentic (especially for females). A precursor to the silent anklet, ankle bells were just that -- bells around your ankles. Sounds fun!
Go for granny glasses or shades. The 50s had those thick, black-rimmed glasses (or, wait, are we talking about today's hipsters?) and this trend had the small, half-moon granny glasses. If history repeats itself, these will be next!
- Fun sunglasses, think tinted John Lennon specs. You know the kind. Hippies weren't much concerned with peripheral vision!
Having Hippie Hair and Make-Up
Grow your hair out. Whether you're male or female, long hair is the norm. This is mainly because you're not going to bother getting it cut! It should be clean (you still bathe!), but it doesn't have to be anything beyond that.
- "Artfully disheveled" is a definite look you could pull off as a hippie. Whatever comes natural to your follicles is how you should rock your mop.
- Men -- grow out your facial hair, too.
Wear a headband. Wear your headband horizontally over your forehead, not vertically over your hair, and accessorize it with a flower (a daisy is classic).
- If you want a feather in your hair more permanently — or just don't like the idea of killing a flower in order to festoon your hair — look for a flower clip that you can put in your hair along with your headband.
- If you can't find a headband, make your own with string. Try to find a stretchy fabric for your string; cotton or other, inelastic string will begin to hurt and may leave a mark on your forehead if worn for a long time.
Style your hair minimally. Leave your hair long, loose, and low-maintenance. Don't put any chemicals in it. The less you style it, the better. If you’re a man, leave your facial hair scruffy and unkempt.
- If you do need to tie your hair up, put it in a low ponytail, two low ponytails, or a braid.
Consider getting dreadlocks if you think you could deal with them. Getting dreadlocks is notoriously difficult, but they're definitely worth it if you think that you can pull them off. They're a labor of love.
- They're a semi-permanent labor of love, so make sure you're committed before you take the leap.
Keep the make-up to a minimum. For women, go practically bare. A bit of black kohl outlining your eyes is okay, but not much more than that. Stay away from lipstick and any outrageous, obvious coloring. You're a child of the earth, after all.
- Hippies often wear symbols, jewelry, and clothing inspired by Native American styles.
- Emphasize bright colors, which were worn as an ode to psychedelic drugs, and floral patterns, which were important due to the back-to-the-land movement. In general, favor natural fibers like cotton, wool, and leather. Steer clear of synthetics as much as you can.
- Keep all your grooming natural and unscented. If you wear perfume, make it an essential oil such as patchouli, jasmine, or sandalwood.
- There was a sub-movement of romantic hippies who wore ruffled shirts, velvet jackets and pants, gowns or robes (guys too!), embroidered vests and other 19th-century things. Look at pictures of the singer Donovan from his "A Gift from a Flower to a Garden" period. David Crosby often wore a dashing cape and hat, Melanie Safka wore long caftans, and poet Richard Brautigan always had a big hat and an anachronistic moustache. The famous designer Thea Porter actually invented beautiful styles for Pink Floyd and other hippie musicians, based on <i>The Lord of the Rings</i> and other fantastic tales, which were then copied by fans of these artists. If this interests you, look for such things in used clothing stores or make over some of your thrift-shop finds.
- In the Haight-Ashbury scene, most hippies wore more ordinary clothing for an everyday look and saved the extravagant costumes for festivals, street dances, etc. But this was also a matter of personal choice. Watch period films of the hippie scene on YouTube for some ideas.