The subject of today’s Ageless Style linkup is Flower Power. Yes, my OOTD has nothing to do with the commonly associated Hippie look except that I wear a floral top and jeans. I decided to tell you about the history and my personal story related to this fashion tribe.
Flower power in America
In the late 60s, early 70s, flower power was a slogan used by young Americans in opposition to the Vietnam War. The flower became a symbol of a non-violence ideology and passive resistance. Like it is always with new ideas that oppose the status quo, the flower power people build their own style tribe. Society of course was upset by the way these young people dressed, their music (songs such as “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), ” and their political opinions and called them Hippies.
What the flower power people wore
Long hair and the idea of sustainability of fashion were in sync with the political idea. In the military, hair was to be cut short. While wearing a jeans until it falls apart may also had financial reasons, the idea of sustainable fashion was in sync with the non-violence ideology and passive resistance. Growing cotton or shaving sheep invades in nature. Not buying new clothes and/or wearing the same clothes over and over again opposed to the world war II and pre-war generation’s Sunday’s Best and dressing up for special events.
Bare feet, Greek-style leather sandals, flower print shirts, tie-dyed T-shirts, flowing romantic dresses, colorful kaftans, and folky fashion.
The flower power movement also let to stores for healthy food, vegetarism, a back-to-nature lifestyle trend, the uptake of yoga in the western culture, music festivals like Coachella or in Great Britain concerts like the Glastonbury festival. The VW van became a must-have for campers.
Flower power in West-Germany
Of course, the movement swapped over the Atlantic Ocean and also reached West-Germany, where I grew up. However, as it happens often, when the ideas of a youth group questioning society finally get picked up by the older generations, it becomes mainstream. The ideas loose their traction, may be even get another meaning, and the message gets lost. This fate was also the fate of the flower symbol.
In Germany, a dish liquid company picked the flower for advertising their product. At the back of the blue bottle there were three abstract flowers, just the blossoms, in bright colors. On TV, the ad went with a song that is still in my head today when I hear the term Flower Power:
Holt euch die lustigen Blumen, holt euch das lustige …..
It means “Get the funny flowers, get the funny …”, where here the dots stand for the name of the product that they of course mentioned. The point of the ad was that the dish liquid was so soft to your skin (“non-violent”) and that doing the dishes is no work at all, but fun with the product. Recall the hippies besides being trouble makers, they were considered as lazy, laying on a house boat being full of drugs, jumping up and down at music festivals or just having fun on the beach.
These stickers were everywhere, on cars, kitchen wall tiles, school bags, you name it. It seemed like everyone had them clued onto something they possessed. Everyone, but me. Don’t get me wrong. For one, my mom used a cheaper dish liquid than the one that came with the flowers. Second, I didn’t even want them. I thought the stickers were ugly and that those people used them out of context.
The Hippie look
Of course, also the flower power movement, its music and fashion made it over the pond. I loved “The Mamas and the Papas”, I liked the jeans, the flared jeans in particular, and the tie-dyed T-shirts. I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans, and I still hear my late mother saying “T-shirts are underwear.” My sister and I were even taken out of the youth group we used to attend once a week, when the leader, a 14 year old girl, taught us how to make tie-dyed shirts!
However, I got the Afghan coat, the symbol of the Hippie’s Eastern gaze. It was silver gray goat with the shaved fur inside. Long curly hair was attached as trim on the sleeves and the bottom as well as along the neck and down the hook closure front. There was paisley inspired embroidery along the front and in the back. My dad okay-ed this coat. He loved anything leather. Guess what, I am still looking to get a similar coat again.
The impact of not dressing mainstream
I also loved the floral dresses and skirts of the hippie look. However, at that time, my mother was still into sewing our dresses. I didn’t appreciate them back then. However, looking back today, I do. They gave me a unique style back then. But back then I hated these dresses. Part of it was that I had no say in the choice of fabric, color and cut. Even worse, my dress had the same cut as my sister’s dress. Moreover, wearing her hand-made dresses, made me to be an outsider in my age group. While it bothered me back then, it taught me to be confident about me being different and not to run after every trend that comes around or that my peer group wears. The self-made dresses taught me to be ok with being different. However, I am sure that this outcome wasn’t her intend at all.
Flower power today
The Hippies were the people I looked up to style-wise. They were the people of my generation, baby-boomers like me, but already older. Today, I’m over it. The hippie look had its time in my life when the wave was close to break in the early 70s. At that time, I was at the edge of becoming a teenager. I barely missed being part of it, and I am not about to relive the early 70s. However, the hippie look was the start of my search for my own style, even though it was the style of a group I was too young for to be part of it.
Earlier in my childhood I just was opinionated about the color and material of my clothes. Flower power made me to want an eclectic style different from the rules and ideas of my mom. I started to think independently and to question the status quo in my closer environment (family, neighbors, friends, youth groups, TV). Still today I love an eclectic look. You can find more about my style evolution at the link.
What are your memories of the flower power time and fashion? Do you wear the modern version of it, i.e. the Bohemian Style? What are your styling challenges? If you have any style and fashion questions please do not hesitate to contact me by email. I would love to help you to look to your best ever.
Ageless Style linkup
Welcome to the Ageless Style Linkup party. Let’s see your ageless style outfits wearing pastels.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
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