Winters Past Vintage in Micanopy, Florida

Featuring the Best of 20th Century Fashion

BAND OF OUTSIDERS AS BEATNIK STYLE

Beat Generation Style

Picture a Gap commercial, with dancing celebrities wearing the clothing we now consider classic: khakis, striped tops, leggings, Ray Bans. This style has it’s roots in the “Beat Generation” literary movement of the 1950s to mid-1960s. The Beat poets, musicians and artists had a style that was in opposition to the 50’s middle class look of crinolines and rhinestones for women, corporate clothes for men. The Beat aesthetic was anti materialistic; they consciously avoided consumerist fashions, adopting more egalitarian, simply styled clothing . The Beats developed an understated look that captured a cool, casual view of trends.

The key to Beatnik style is avoiding fuss – keeping things simple. Let’s look at two avatars of beatnik style, trumpeter Dizzy Gilispie and poet Diane DiPrima.

Dizzy Gillispie as an avatar of beatnik style

Dizzy Gillispie as an avatar of beatnik style

Dizzy Gillispie as an avatar of beatnik style

The memorable eyeglasses and hat became signature beat looks

Dizzy Gillispie as an avatar of beatnik style

Essentially simple pieces (a sweater vest, beret and buttoned up shirt) added up to a cool, hip style

Men of the fifties creative class wore corduroys or jeans, button-down shirts, and sport coats, which is essentially the semi casual uniform of the midcentury young adult. Add in some thick/dark glasses, a beret, loafers and lots and lots of black and you have a style that we now call classic.

For women, it’s pencil skirts, stirrup pants, black capris or cigarette pants worn with an over sized sweater, cowl neck or slim boat necked top and flats.  Now and then, a Mexican skirt or peasant top might be part of this look. Hair would be either very short like a young Shirley MacLaine or long with bangs, like French actress Anna Karena. Showy jewelry or consciously couture looks ran the risk of coming off too bourgeois.

Here is poet Diane DiPrima int the fifties

Here is poet Diane DiPrima in the fifties with simple pulled back hair and a tank top

Here is poet Diane DiPrima int the fifties

Slim white pants, a tailored shirt and some great lace up sandals

Here is poet Diane DiPrima int the fifties

An oversized pullover sweater, simple bold  jewelry and natural hair.

Of course, the anti fashion look became fashionable and the counterculture itself became chic. Here is a wonderful ad for stockings that trades on the beatnik look, including a bottle of chianti on the checkered tablecloth:

beatnik style

Beatnik style used in advertising

In contrast to the photo at the start of this post from the Goddard film Band of Outsiders,  here is Hollywood’s version of fifties hipster cool from the movie Funny Face:

Audrey Hepburn as a beatnik

Audrey Hepburn as a beatnik

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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