Woodstock: Peace, Music, and Concert Fashion

Woodstock, one of the most momentous, influential music festivals of all time began August 15 in 1969 and lasted until August 18. These three days were an incredible experience both for the folks who came to the shows and the performers on the stage. Often, the image of Woodstock is one of a massive hippie crowd covered in mud and laced with drugs. While this is somewhat accurate (the rain caused mud to spread through the crowd, and drugs were in frequent use), the styles of the late ’60s were definitely evident in the clothing worn by much of the audience. I say “much” because a significant amount of the 200,000 or so people there were naked and mud-spattered.

The clothed group though, reflected the concert-goer’s style of the 1960s, which ranged from hippie to rock styles. What I find most interesting about styles found at concerts is the interlacing of music genres and fashion. For instance, the term “rock” is both a style of music, and a clothing style (made up of clothes a rock star would supposedly wear). While some music terms do not directly correspond to a fashion style, it usually has a fashion equivalent: folk music has a hippie style, pop music has a preppy style, rap music has an urban style, and indie music has a grungy style, to name a few.

The fashion seen at concerts often tends to imitate the style of the musician, all of which have evolved along with the music itself. The crowds of Woodstock would have been imitating artists like Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. Joplin had an edgy rocker style; Grateful Dead were grungy rock; Baez was a hippie queen; The Who were pure British rock n’ roll; Jefferson Airplane had a mod and indie mix; and Jimi Hendrix had a style all his own. Psychedelic, man. Many other bands graced the stages of Woodstock, and the crowd fawned and rallied over them, always reflecting their style.

Today, fashions still reflect the artists fans go to see, but they have evolved substantially. The rock look of today is a mixture of 80’s and 60’s rock styles like skinny jeans and leather jackets, with a bit of modern flair (Steven Tyler didn’t always have feathers in his hair). The styles that have developed along rap and hip hop music are probably the most unique because the two genres only emerged in mainstream scene during the past couple of decades. The hippie style of reggae has become much more earthy and indie with tunics and hemp accessories being especially popular. You can do the same transition with almost every piece of music, but many of them will start to overlap. For instance, folk started off with a pretty hippie style like reggae, but has evolved into a much more indie vibe. The hipster fashion has evolved along a weird mixture of pop, rock, and indie music with the sporting of bow ties, suspenders, slim-fitting slacks and oxfords.

Personally, when I go to concerts, I like to dress with a mixture of efficiency and fashion. For instance, during my Lollapalooza experiences, I like to dress for the hot Chicago summer heat by donning a tank top, shorts, TOMS, and of course, a small satchel (big enough to carry a water bottle, my phone, and some cash). For an evening show, I’ll put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt; I like to be as comfy as I can in the pits. I figure it’s too dark to see anyway, so why should I be super chic and ruin my favorite shirt with not only my sweat stains, but everyone standing around me? Things can get wild at concerts. If you’re lucky enough to have a seat, then by all means, dress for the occasion as fancy as you please.

Concert styles depend on many different factors like where it is, and who’s playing, but you can always work in your own style without sticking out like a Beiber fan at a Coheed & Cambria concert. If you’re going to see your favorite band, chances are, your style already reflects the concert’s vibe, while if you’re being dragged to your friend’s favorite-band-towards-which-you’re-apathetic concert, you may need to tweak you’re look a bit. No matter what though, it’s important to enjoy the show like those naked fashion-less mobs at Woodstock did without worrying too much about looks.

Written By: Mary B.

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