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The beat generation rose up out of a post-WWII generation. Many of those in the beat movement came to be referred to as beatniks. Although the term was not popular amongst those within the beat generation itself.
In popular culture, a beatnik is portrayed as a black clad, poetry reciting, red wine drinking bohemian. However there is a lot more involved in the beat generation in terms of politics, sexuality, creativity and fashion. Those referred to as beatniks are commonly thought of as the more suburban version of the more hardcore members of the beat generation.
Beatniks were the first form of hippies. The style of the beat generation was much more relaxed than the generations before. Men grew out their beards so they were wild and woolly. Women were liberated from wearing bras and shaving their legs. There is the usual stereotype of black turtlenecks and berets. However beatnik fashion also encompassed striped shirts, over-sized sweaters and cowl-collared tops. These styles were popular amongst both sexes.
Young women often wore jersey with short collars. The beatnik look is when slim-fit pants became popular, think Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. The slim fit black pants were often teamed with a short-sleeved sweater. Pencil skirts were also favoured by the females in this fashion generation.
Men didn’t stray too far from previous generations when it came to beatnik fashion. Tailored slacks were still popular, however they were worn more casually, with either short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts. Some men even took the plunge and experimented with black tight fitting pants, thought this was mainly worn by the female beatniks of the time.