How to create a '60s costume

Written by steve sparkes
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How to create a '60s costume
Long flowing skirts and headbands epitomised hippie chic in the '60s. (African American hippie girl image by from

The '60s are synonymous with bold fashion statements. Stylish mods, grungy rockers, the Jackie O look, Beatle-style moptop haircuts and skinny Twiggy-type models with big eyes and long lashes -- these images all conjure up that vibrant time of frantic creativity. The most iconic, outrageous and fun trends of the '60s, however, were set by the hippies, exploding out of the music scene with psychedelia prominent in decor and clothing. Tie-dyed everything, long unkempt hair (for men as well as women), beads, bangles, macrame, headbands, peace symbols, flower-power, John Lennon specs and weird beards and moustaches of all descriptions were "where it was at, man." So, kick off your shoes, get dressed up, and go chill out with those cool cats in your '60s-themed costume.

Skill level:

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    Start from the bottom up by taking off your shoes. For both men and women, running through the mud in bare feet at a music festival (and many other places) showed you were "hip." Manmade clothing materials were also out of favour, as the hippie generation went back to nature. If the thought of going barefoot makes you cringe at all the nasties you'll tread on, sandals are acceptable for the less hardcore.

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    Wear a long flowing skirt if you're a woman or hip-hugging flared jeans. Flares or bell-bottoms were also "cool" for men to wear. Skirts should be colourful -- randomly tie dyed, or flower-patterned, perhaps. You could never have too many flowers in a hippie outfit. Male or female jeans were further enhanced with colourful patches, raggedly sewn on, and wide leather belts with large ornate belt buckles.

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    Show off some skin on your upper half by wearing a skimpy halter-top or a short, tight, T-shirt that shows a little belly. Pick out one of the many colours from your bottom half to match with your top. Tight T-shirts for men also look good, if you're slim, but keeping your belly covered is advisable. Looser ethnic tops and short kaftans are other options for women, while men might opt for grandad shirts and fringed leather vests.

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    Finish off your look with an appropriate hairstyle, wig or hat. A headband is an unmistakable '60s hair accessory, as are flowers held in with hairpins, and narrow beaded plaits. A floppy hat or a long shaggy wig can be used to cover up a modern hairstyle. if there's time before the costume party, men can grow some outrageous sideburns or a wild beard to complement their outfit. Round wire sunglasses, CND badges and ethnic-style beads and bangles can be added as you prefer...and don't forget your peace sign.

Tips and warnings

  • Sprinkle some patchouli essential oil on clothing items to get that distinctive hippie scent that likes to linger. Modern aromatherapists use the oil to treat depression and relaxation, so it seems the hippies were on the right track with this particular fad.

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