Growing up in upstate New York—with parents who were teenagers in the ’70s—one would think I might have some passed down tales about the legend of Woodstock festival. Spoiler alert: I don’t. My parents were just 13-years-old, and a little young for it to be a thing they cared about. Despite this, though, the legend of the three day Woodstock festival of “music and peace” takes on a particular sense of meaning for kids growing up where I did.
For those of us who considered ourselves lovers of music, and the particular sense of style that comes from being both carefree and overly expressive, this was especially true. In fact, when director Ang Lee made 2009’s “Taking Woodstock” starring Demetri Martin and Henry Goodman, I had several friends who appeared as extras wearing the same outfits and hairstyles they already wore every day.
During this time, about 10 years ago, at a time right before Instagram was released and I was in high school scrolling through Tumblr nostalgia pages, the style of the ’60s and ’70s rock genres were everything to me. I loved to look at photos of Debbie Harry with her cropped t-shirts and bright red lipstick, I envied the voluminous hair Jimmy Page had in every Led Zeppelin album photo, and Tina Turner’s mini dresses were my obsession. There was one image from that time period that stood out to me so much that I printed it out and had it hung next to my dresser.
It was Janis Joplin sitting in a chair at Woodstock wearing a long-sleeve tie-dye outfit (a trend that has since reemerged in a major way this year), long colorful beads, and a pair of orangey-pink shaded wire sunglasses. In the photo, she’s sitting there smiling, looking down while pouring a bottle of Veuve Clicquot into a paper cut.
Without glamorizing the more tragic parts of Joplin’s short life, this photo truly captured the essence of the musician and the style of the time that I fell so in love with. Sure, tie-dye was popularized in the ’60s, but the beautiful deep hues of this particular dress pointed to a moment in fashion that wasn’t about the overproduction of a trend that you could pick up at the mall. Her long beads were, again, effortless but thought out. They weren’t perfectly matched or styled with the look, they were worn because of their relevance and what they represented. Her glasses were an item that was so signature to the “Piece of My Heart” singer’s overall look that it’s almost hard to picture her big smile without a pair of rose-colored round lenses sliding down her nose.
Every morning while getting dressed I could look at this photo of a free-spirited young woman, creating a moment that history will forever remember that the style or the art or the work that I put out in the world that day were uniquely mine. Just like that hand-dyed look she so perfectly wore.