I have been reading a lot of articles (and watching documentaries) about Janis Joplin in the past few days. That wild hair, the bell sleeves, the unending strings of beads. Everything that you think of when you think hippy. I’ve always felt attracted to that style. Although recently I have been moving away from the ethnic and ethereal embroidery and lace and toward the black and grey chunky, boxy and oversized, the hippy esthetic still pulls me like a magnet and I think it will always be, in one way or another, a part of me.
“The first hippie pinup girl,” as Janis Joplin thought of herself, was however hardly a role model. And that is probably because her image is too multifaceted. She was too real and honest in everything in her life. She has remained in our cultural memory as a complex personality full of contradictions and marked by dualities. A purveyor of women’s liberation who longed for the ideal of traditional romantic love. A free spirit who was tormented by not being conventionally pretty. A national-stature rock star who wanted most to have a family and make her parents happy and proud.
Her look was a big influence and a huge part of her persona. Her loose clothing and wild hair had a big role to play in liberating women at the time from the restrictive girdled clothing styles and complicated coiffures. Janis Joplin & The New Feminism by Jerome L. Rodnitzky is a very interesting article that I recommend if you want to find out more about the role she played, even unwittingly, in the Women’s Liberation Movement whose rise coincided with Janis Joplin’s own rise to fame.
An interesting discovery for me was that Janis Joplin used a lot of thrift store clothing and she sewed many of her own clothes too. No wonder I find her style so appealing.
“FASHION NEWS: I went out & bought myself a $35 pair of boots. Oh they are so groovey!! They’re old-fashioned in their style-tight w/buttons up the front. Black. FANTASTIC! When I get back, I’m going to rent a sewing machine & make myself some sort of beautiful/outlandish dress to go w/them.” Janis Joplin, September 1966 (From Janis Joplin: Daring to be Different, by Kinsley Suer PortlandCenterStage–you can read a lot of interesting info about her style in this article.)