How To Dress Like A Beach Boy


Since this website was opened we have received questions asking, more or less, "How should I dress if I want to look like the Beach Boys?" But because the group has existed in one form or another for over 50 years, there is no one right answer.


The earliest known Beach Boys look might be the classicearly beach boys late '50s to early '60s white tee-shirt and jeans or chinos look, although David Marks appears to be wearing a Pendleton and it's hard to tell but Carl might be wearing a madras short sleeve shirt. Note the variety of footwear and for Dennis no footwwear at all, marking this as a Southern Californian take on the tee shirt and jeans look, which was nearly nationwide. A sleeveless or "tank top" white undershirt would have been an east coast phenomenon.


The Pendleton was a surfer signifier and was used for their

first Paradise Cove album cover shots, and were the ensemble look at their first recorded concert appearance at the Azuza Teen Rec Center in One Man's Challenge.


On stage they abandoned the Pendletons, and after a very brief Matching Gold Jackets look they settled into their classic striped shirts, a fashion concept borrowed from the Kingston Trio who borrowed it from Calypso singers of the late '50s. Although the stripes get larger and larger on Paul Dano playing the Young Brian Wilson in the Love and Mercy surfer girlmovie as he feels trapped, that's a dramatic ploy and not historically accurate, so any version of their vertically striped shirt will say "I am dressing like the Beach Boys on stage during the early and mid '60s", as long as the stripes are not so small that they begin to look like Yankee (in both uses of the word) pinstripes. These shirts are traditionally worn with full length white pants but on some occasions can be worn with white shorts, but

not if you are going for the "in concert early '60s" look.


If you are more a fan of their early car songs rconcertather

than their early surf songs, there is also the less common 'blue windbreaker, pre-Beatles hair, muscle car" look. Close attention must be paid to the careful grooming of the hair for this Beach Boys look. Dennis rocks this style with both his hair and his car.


Another minor style might also be the seasonal Christmas sweater look, but this is currently inadvisable for a variety of reasons, and is not a fashion statement associated with the Beach Boys.

blue car


Pet Sounds presents the Beach Boys at a transistional moment. The front San Diego Zoo cover displays them in early late '60s Beatles era grooming and no longer in matching ensembles.


pet spunds

The back of the LP has

the Boys on stage in their old striped shirts (or clowning around on tour in Japan). So either look could be considered appropriate for representing this period.


The late sixties look gave way to the High Sixties look, where individual band members wore different interpretations of this time frame's wardrobe. Perhaps the most famous was Mike Love's take on what I call The Rockin' Guru look, which incuded at times full length robes or the popular Gold Lame with Turban style.




In the Reagan era, after being banned from the DC mall by James Watt, the Beach Boys and the Reagans came together and the boys adopted a patriotic, cleaned up look. One fashion note: Bruce Johnston's Short Shorts at the White House, certainly an interesting moment for the temporary combination of one version of Southern Californian culture and politics.


rockin guru

In the later years the surviving rival touring groups led by Mike Love and Brian Wilson have adopted somewhat different fashion statements. Mike goes with the Old Guy in a Colorful Shirt look, which always includes a ball cap. Do not attempt this look without a ball cap.


old man

 Brian prefers the Old Guy Wearing Any Random Clean Shirt, and I believe this look is the most authentic and easiest to fit into a busy schedule. Brian is pictured in a nice clean reddish-pink shirt with the current pricipal of Hawthorne High School




Other grooming and dress ideas associated wth the Beach Boys include Brian's first wife Marilyn and her sister Dianne, who were in the vocal group The Honeys with their cousin Ginger in the early '60s.



In the later '60s the sisters without their cousin recorded as Spring and often appeared, usually without credit, on Beach Boys recordings. Brian and Marilyn's daughters Wendy and Carnie have had their own careers as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips.








Finally, because the Beach Boys can be considered an interpretation of the Girl Group sound of the early '60s, and referred to groups like the Ronettes and Crystals as inspirations, it would not be out of place to consider the classic Ronettes style as one way to dress like the Beach Boys.


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