Survival Guide to Style Tribes

By Hannah Heath

April 12, 2016


1  Walking into the high school lunchroom, tables of cliques are distinctly gathered together with their mutual peers, wearing the same clothing, speaking the same lingo, and using the same mannerisms. We can all recall the classic Mean Girls scene as Janice Ian narrates the groups of students for new girl Cady Herring. Weaving through the lunchroom, jocks, nerds, girls who eat their feelings all huddle together in the safety of their niches. In fashion, cliques are not solely confined to the lunch room but congregate in the form of style. Style tribes, like high school cliques, are categorized by groups of counter cultures aiming to distinguish themselves from the mainstream. The most popular style tribes are those that began as countercultural youth movements that we will now further explore.

2      Along the streets of Berkeley’s campus, hippies began to come on the scene in 1960s distinguishing themselves by wearing bright colors, tie-dye, floral patterns, and flower crowns. To deviate even further from the norm, hippies experimented with illicit drugs while praising rock gods such as Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane as they preached ideals of authenticity, individualism, and communities. Promoting peace and love during an anti-war time, the hippies began a youth movement of defiance to “the man” and spreading good vibes only.



3   Following the hippies, another youth movement emerged in the late 70s  as a backlash against the free-spirited times and instead adopted an expressive viewpoint full of questioning authority and challenging the norms of society. Known for their DIY destroyed denim and vintage tees, the punks radically stood out from the mainstream with their aggressive jewelry, tattoos, and hairstyles. Claiming black as their signature color, the punks drastically differed from the once popular bohemian teens that dominated society. A culture of taking action while sporting leather was now being accepted by storm from the youths of the time.

4 While hippies and punks were patronizing authority, Lolita’s were running away from their responsibilities and embodying a prolonged childhood. A way to escape from the trials of life, Lolita lifestyle focuses on youthfulness followed by modesty and a cute appeal. By wearing pastel buttoned up dresses, bloomers, and over-the-knee socks, Japanese youth can nostalgically dress as they did when they were young and avoid growing into adulthood, at least for the time being.

As Cady found her home in “the plastics,” the youth of today are constantly itching to find their home amongst the variety of style tribes in existence. Whether you want to spread the love and fight war, defy authority and release your anger, or escape adult responsibility and embrace your childhood, there is a place for everyone to express their style and find others who will support your look with you. As you search for the right style to embody your values, take a page from Mean Girls and choose a seat that’s right for you. With so many options, there’s no reason for you to sit alone in the bathroom stall.






Works Cited

Punk Photo: Ling, Clifford. Sid Vicious Of The Sex Pistols, 1977. 1977. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Lolita Photo: Retrieved from

Hippie Photo: Vintage Everyday.(2013). Amazing Photos of Life at Woodstock Festival, August             1969. Retrieved from           festival.html.

Mean Girls Photo: (2014). Retrieved from

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