The history of hippie fashion in the 70s

Updated July 14, 2018

The history of hippie fashion in the 1970s is defined by carefree, nonconformist attitudes toward life, love and politics. Fashion was heavily influenced by folk music and rock and roll, as well as by performers and entertainers of the day. The history of hippie fashion in the 1970s reflected social mores and attitudes which were considered "loose and laid-back" when compared to the more conservative 1950s and 1960s. Much of 1970s hippie fashion is regaining popularity as "vintage retro."


Hippie fashions in the 1970s were Earth-friendly and typically made of natural fibres and free-flowing materials. Brushed fabric or viscose rayon crepe was historically found in 1970s hippie fashions. The advent of central heating in homes and cars brought about the introduction of lighter fabrics as long, heavy woollen coats were replaced with velvet jackets, quilted padded duvet coats and hip-length wool velour jackets and raincoats. Clothes made of floating and romantic fabrics also grew in popularity, as light cotton, voiles and chiffons became standards of the day.


A popular women's hippie fashion for daytime was flowing, flower child-era peasant skirts and tie-dye sarongs and wraps. Also popular was the high-necked "Granny" dress. Exotic and tropical prints were popular as designers started to emulate fashion trends found abroad. Men's fashion closely followed women's with an edge toward loosefitting tunics, flared denim trousers and bright vivid colours. Hippie men also took to military-style clothing including cargo trousers and jackets.

International Influences

The influence of hippie fashion in the 1970s came from every part of the world as styles tended to fit the mood of an era that had returned to nature and was anti-Vietnam War in outlook. Hippies of the 1970s favoured fashion from numerous ethnic groups. Nehru jackets and loose-flowing robes were introduced and kaftans, muumuus and kimonos, influenced by India, Africa and Asia were popular. Kimonos were often sewn in exotic fabrics and edged in silver, gold or other metallic embroidered trims. Tibetan and Chinese quilted jackets and square armhole waistcoats in mix-and-match prints were favoured, as were Indian-imported cotton voile dresses in vivid, bright colours.

Peasant Fashion

Peasant fashion for both women and men featured eyelets with lacing, oversized rickrack braid, false bibs, front ties, angel sleeves and bell sleeves. Simply-shaped garments of richly patterned print fabrics were popular for men. Macrame bags and bikinis from the Greek Isles and crochet waistcoats and shawls from Spain were all high fashion, as were ponchos and Gypsy tops made from gauzy materials.

Romantic Influences

Many Gypsy blouses and shirts were influenced by Victoria-era designs, as were semi-opaque clothes made of cheesecloth. Favoured by both men and women, these garments swung and flared away from the body, following the lines of flared and bell bottom trousers frequently made from denim. Flared trousers and trouser suits with shirts made with wide lapels were popular as well. Hippie men favoured fashionable colours such as greens and oranges with hip-length tunics and vests.

Shoes, Coats and Accessories

Platform shoes were a must-have necessity for the 1970s hippie. Platforms typically had soles ranging from 1- to 4-inches thick. Clogs were also popular for their comfort and the chunkiness of their soles. Men favoured sandals and military-style boots. Hand-knitted cardigans and zigzagged knit patterns with intricate, bright designs also came into fashion, as did long, knitted wool or acrylic scarves and gloves and knitted chenille turban hats and multicoloured tams.

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About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.