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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rant over. Peace and love.