Monday, August 31, 2009

Dressing for the center of the universe

Last Saturday, my friend Tallula and I went to Seattle, to drop her boyfriend off at the airport, do some much needed Goodwill-shopping. Going off-Island can be really fun, because out here you learn to appreciate such mundane things like going to the movies, getting Thai-food, and buying underwear.

Our movie of choice was Taking Woodstock, which provided a bunch awesome hippie inspiration, but also got me thinking about what the 60s and the 70s really mean in terms of ideology, lifestyle choices, and dare I say it, style.

Earlier in the day, at a random Value Village, browsing trough the isles for some thrift goods, Tallula's boyfriend Nick, overheard a little girl discussing her plans for Halloween with her mother (why VV is stocking a full assortment of cheap-ass Made in China Halloween costumes in August, beats the heck out of me). "Look they have hippie costume! I want to be a hippie mom? Can I? Can I?" was the gist of the conversation apparently. Sure enough, there on the shelf were individual package containing a long wig with middle parting, tie-dye shirt, shiny plastic peace pendant and some flares. (And don't get me wrong, I have plenty of love for tie-dye!)

Casual Hippie Wear by you.

Now even if you set aside the ridiculousness of buying a hippie costume off the rack, especially in the one place where you could probably find the real pieces for the same price, the idea of a fancy-dress-hippie, seems only to imply that the culture said costume is trying to portray, is long dead and gone, fit for a posthumous caricature. As Nick pointed out a hippie-Halloween outfit would never fly on the Island, there's too many real live hippies around, and they just don't look that stereotypical.

Blissed out? by you.

The movie proved the same to be true, with re-produced late 60s looks, some of which re-produced many hippie cliches, but most of which simply embodied the ethos of hippie ideology, and therefore, dressing: the handmade, the thrifted, the ethnic, the devil-may-care.

Banded by you.

I first discovered my own style in the great Hippie Revival of the 90s, when tie-dye, flares, and flowing florals came back into style, for the first time since the 70s. It wasn't just about those superficial things, but the other choices I was making, being involved in green groups, student council, youth for the Kioto Protocol, warehouse parties, and taking over empty buildings.

Red robin by you.

My style choices then, (and now!) reflected a lifestyle, undefined and forming as that lifestyle may have been. At thirteen, I wanted to work for Greenpeace, go to festivals, and paint banderolls. Today, I want to garden, learn to spin yarn, walk in the woods, and generally lead a life of voluntary simplicity.

While I love many a hippie-style cliche, from flowers in my hair, to float-y dresses, headbands, and the afore mentioned tie-dye, above all, I think my style as a form of self-expression, not an imitation of an era I never lived trough, something that could easily be bought off the rack.
Flowers and lace by you.

Rant over. Peace and love.


  1. i love your style. never the cliched hippy route, your choices are always dreamy and whimsical, and fit right into your green landscape...
    xo s

  2. Hi!
    I agree with Sarah that you have a lovely and unique style.
    And I think your rant was spot on.

    Also thank you for sharing the voluntary simplicity link.

  3. Oh Millakins, you know I adore your hippie flavah :) Never cliched and there's always enough Fairytale of the Pacific Northwest mixed with Audrey Horne meets Angela Chase thrown in to keep things interesting and inspiring!

    Not to mention how inspired I am by your lifestye choices, must look into this simplicity business ;)

    P.S. Several moms at Clover's playgroup today mentioned how much they loved my vintage camera bag :) Also, inspired by the technicolor dreamshirt, I thrifted a kick-ass little tie-dye tee the other day, wootwoot!

  4. Gorgeous outfits and I love the lighting in your pics too!

  5. Hi!

    I really liked this post. Your style is coherent with your way of life and that is one of the reasons why I love this blog :)

    (Sorry my poor english!)

  6. Your hippie styles are very cool! I bought one of those peasant style dresses recently. It will probably fit in less in a New Zealand city (where I live) than on an island, but so be it - I'm looking forward to wearing it.

  7. i'm so with you on all this. it was weird back in the 90s when the styles came in but none of the revolutionary idealism, at least not in any practical form for me. didn't take long though before i sort of realized what kind of person i wanted to be and how that coincided with the styles of clothing i was attracted to. good-bye tight jeans and baggy teeshirts, hello sandals and sundresses forever! music played a big part in that transition as well.

    i love your blog and your beautiful island life.