Too Beat? Try the beatnik style

How to get the beatnik look 

‘Beat’ has many definitions…Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road, said the word suggested “physical weariness” and “alienation”, but it can simply be described as a subculture movement in the 50s/60s, whose participants read poetry, listened to jazz and hated mainstream culture.

Their style reflected their deep, existentialist personality meaning lots of black yet not particularly “fashionable”


Berets were big in Beatniks style since they drew a lot of inspiration from French existentialists. Although they tended to mainly wear black hats, you can feel free to buy a beret of any and every colour. They’re also a great accessory to add a pop of colour to an outfit, they will also keep you warm during these frosty months.

New Look, Black Wool Beret 

ASOS, Red Wool Beret 

The key to looking deep, and put together is a turtleneck, either wool or cotton. The long neck will also keep you warm in winter

You can find turtlenecks on almost any website, or clothing shop- and they usually come in various colours in case you’re feeling very optimistic about our existence one day.

Very, Turtleneck Jersy Top

Black and white striped jumpers have always been a staple in subculture style, from punk (i.e. Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of the former Sex Pistol’s bassist), to Kurt Cobain (lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana) but the beats did it first.

Stradivarius jumper in black and white

Stradivarius jumper in black and ecru stripe


Tight trousers and skirts were all the rage with the beats. Even though baggy trousers and flared jeans are popular today we encourage you to try some more tight silhouettes – after all what’s more beat than diverging from the mainstream style?

For every day you can opt for black trousers

New Look, Black Belted Slim trousers


…or for an evening look, a leather mini skirt

River Island, Black Faux Leather A-line Mini Skirt


If you’re trying out the beatnik look, feel free to share pictures on social media tagging us @fashion_north


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