Beatniks were about pushing against the conformity of the 1950s and 1960s, and illuminating their lives with literature, music and experiences. The basics of beatnik style included black turtlenecks, striped shirts and berets. Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s muse, is one of the most loved beatnik style icons. Her short peroxide-blonde hair and all-black ensembles are ideal for retro-chic inspiration. The understated but classic beatnik look is perfect for a Halloween party or to inspire your everyday personal style.
Hip Turtlenecks and Boatnecks
Black was in. Beatnik style was based off a variety of black pieces that worked together to create a casual but sharp outfit. A black turtleneck sweater or boatneck shirt is perfect for a beatnik ensemble. If you’re feeling daring, don a black leotard with black tights — you’ll radiate beatnik. If turtlenecks and leotards aren’t for you, try a black-and-white striped sweater.
Rebelling against the flared skirts of their contemporaries, beatnik women chose black leggings and hip cigarette pants. Combine black leggings with your long black turtleneck — the edgy but understated look was a favorite of beatnik gals, but you can opt for capri pants or skinny jeans if the legging-look isn’t for you. If dressing up in in the cards, pair a fitted black pencil skirt with black tights and you’ll be ready for a jazz club.
Beatniks weren’t concerned with posh jewelry or flashy bohemian statement pieces. A black beret or simple pair of tarnished silver earrings is ideal. No jewelry at all is okay too — just carry a book of poetry as your accessory. Beatnik hair and makeup was understated; a simple black cat-eye or thin line of kohl liner is enough. Finish with a nude lipstick and very light sweep of blush. The beatniks didn’t dig hot-rollers so your keep your hair natural. For short locks, add a little pomade to keep it sleek. If you have long or curly hair, embrace the “bedhead” look.
Classic Flats and Loafers
Beatniks didn’t normally rock knee-high boots or platforms like their British counterparts, the Mods. You’ll reflect true beatnik style with a pair of sleek black loafers. If loafers aren’t your cup of tea, go with strappy sandals or basic flats. Retro inspired kitten heels or block heels can still reflect the ethos of the era, but remember comfort is key — dancing and jiving were essentials to the beatnik lifestyle.
References and ResourcesBritannica: Beat Movement
Greater Bay Area Costumers Guil: Beatnik Fashion
Queens of Vintage: Vintage Subcultures: The Beatniks
Lucky Magazine: 11 Ladylike Style Lessons From Audrey Hepburn
Marie Claire: All About Edie