Table of Contents
Jimi Hendrix Fashion
(updated November, 2021)
Jimi Hendrix: The Man in the Music ( Part 8 )
Jimi Hendrix’s fashion is second only to his music in long-term popularity. Jimi Hendrix inspired clothing continues to be popular. Without a doubt, Jimi Hendrix wardrobe was an intrigal component of his on-stage flare.
Jimi Hendrix clothes were an attention grabber off-stage as well.
Jimi Hendrix biographer, Charles R. Cross (Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix), tells of an incident when Jimi and fellow band member Noel Redding went to a local, Liverpool pub for a drink between sets. They were fully decked out in Experience regalia. The bartender refused to serve them. At first Jimi thought the bartender was a racist. “Is it because I am black.” “It has nothing to do with your race,” he said. “We do not want your kind in here. The sign outside is clear about it.”
Noel went outside and read a sign on the door and told Jimi, “It says clowns will not be served.” A clown convention was in town. They often got out of hand in the pubs, so the pub owner had banned service to them. It seems that Jimi and Noel’s abundant afros, bright colored, bloused shirts and bell bottoms pants caused the bartender to assume they were clowns.
Jimi Hendrix outfit always got attention, but this might be the only ocassion it was viewed as a clown costume.
Jimi Hendrix style was likened to Bohemian style. It bore homage to a time of gypsy free, and loving life.
Jimi’s Military Fashion
On several occasions British veterans accosted Jimi for wearing his antique, military, dress uniform. Again, with Jimi Hendrix outfit. They told him to take it off, because he had not earned the right to wear it. He would respond, “I was in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division” Those giving him a hard time would then relent, knowing that the US 101st Airborne played a major role in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.
Even though he was certainly of the hippie generation and a hippie icon, Jimi Hendrix wardrobe ran from dapper to colorfully flamboyant. They looked amazing on him.
He had an affinity for soft, billowy fabrics. He often wore layers of garments like vests, scarves, sometimes contrasting prints.
His style had a sharp and glamorous edge accented with big bling around his neck, and ruffles and fringes on his shirts. Much Jimi Hendrix wardrobe came from designers in London boutiques such as I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet and Granny Takes a Trip.
What came to be known as psychedelic dress was in stark contrast to the black suits that Hendrix wore on the Chitlin Circuit and in Greenwich Village in his earlier years.
After he emerged from the Chitlin Circuit, Jimi Hendrix outfits became one of his trademarks.
Jimi Hendrix Fashion Genesis
Jimi Hendrix clothes did not always draw attention. In fact, coming from a rather poor family, his childhood clothes were simple and drab.
Like his music, Jimi Hendrix wardrobe evolved into something very special.
Chris Jagger, Mick’s brother, designed the hand-painted silk jacket Hendrix wore when he burned his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival.
In 1967 Hendrix started to wear a wide-brimmed Westerner brand cowboy hat. He wrapped a narrow purple band and various brooches around it. The hat was stolen in 1968. He tried dawning various other hats for a few months.
Finally, he replaced the hats with bandanas. Then in late 1968 he began tying scarves to one leg and one arm.
Many biographers and commentators believe that Jimi Hendrix’s hair was patterned after Bob Dylan’s. A set of hair curlers was one of only a few things that he carried in a small bag on his first trip to England with Chas Chandler in 1966.
Jimi Hendrix’s fashion demanded just as much attention as his music. Jimi Hendrix outfits could not be ignored anymore than his psychedelic.
Jimi Hendrix’s Designers
He had a lot of influence on the design of his clothes. Jimi Hendrix fashion is a testimony to his personal taste and the creative expertise of his designers.
A designer that Jimi had a special friendship with was Colette Mimram. She was a New York clothing, boutique owner and acquaintance of Devon Wilson, Jimi’s girlfriend.
Mimram credited Jimi with having good taste in color combinations and fabrics. In retrospect that seems like a no-brainer to me. His closes always seemed to be have stylist color combinations, even if they were unusual. As she worked on Jimi’s clohes, Mimram became a close friend. She was Moroccan. She accompanied Jimi to cities throughout the country in mid-1969.
From 1968-70 Jimi Hendrix employed Michael Braun and Toni Ackerman to fashion many of his famous clothes. Their fashion company was Michael and Toni Design. They also designed clothes for other flamboyant musicians like Sly Stone, Aerosmith, and Sonny and Cher.
“If you’re making clothes for Jimi Hendrix,” Braun said, “it’s like making clothes for God.” The power designing couple was impressed with Jimi’s desire to wear top of the line material that appealed more to women than men. He loved silk chiffon for his shirts. The long ruffles on the sleeves Jimi called “witch sleeves or wizard sleeves,”
Like many of the youth of the sixties, Jimi Hendrix outfits were counter cultural to the extreme. The intention was to be flamboyantly far out.
Before 1968, when he was in the U.K., he just bought his funky clothes at Granny Takes A Trip and I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet like many young Londoners at that time.
This article is an installment in the Jimi Hendrix Series on 60s Folks:
- Jimi Hendrix Fashion
- Jimi Hendrix Toronto Trial
- Jimi’s Death
- Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon and the Animals Connection
- Jimi and Bob Dylan: A Cosmic Friendship
- Jimi and the Chitlin Circuit
- Buster Hendrix: Jimi’s Childhood
- Jimi Hendrix: The Man in the Music