How the Beach Boys invented Surf Style

In the early 1960s in the USA the massive economic boom and available disposable income available to teenagers were creating subcultures that permeate today. One of the most influential of the 1960s culture was surf culture and one of the most prominent exponents of that culture was The Beach Boys, who conquered the world with their songs about beach life in California.

The Beach Boys’ first single, Surfin’ was released in 1961 and was the first glimpse into the life of the California surfing scene in mainstream pop culture.

If that was the introduction to the surf scene, then it was their third single, Surfin’ USA, that brought their beach life to the mainstream.

So what look did the Beach Boys pioneer?

Hawaiian Shirts

Though The Beach Boys started their career dressing like a traditional barbershop group, wearing candy-striped shirts, this style soon morphed into the colourful and expressive style of Hawaiian shirts. If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian style, then check out Tori Richard, who have been producing designs for 60 years. You’ll also find a great selection of Hawaiian shirts here.



Boardshorts are probably the most popular and instantly recognisable piece of surf equipment. There are probably a hundred thousand types of board shorts available and there are countless factors that contribute to great board shorts. Fashions have come and gone, but board shorts have remained mainly unchanged. The key things to look out for are making sure that your shorts aren’t below the knee or are stupidly baggy. This will cause more problems in the water than anything else. Several brands have been going since before the time The Beach Boys were in their pomp. As long ago as 1952 Jack O’Neill was producing wetsuits and board shorts for wearing among the waves.


Flip Flops

Brian Wilson was famous for being slightly eccentric by the mid-1960ss. He thought that the band were getting away from their roots as a bunch of guys who went to the beach together and took extreme steps to try to remedy this in his music writing process. He got a massive sandbox built in his house that he could put his grand piano in so that he could feel the sand under his feet. This feeling of the sand under your feet can come from being barefoot, but anyone who’s been on a hot beach knows that you’ll have to have something on your feet to stop them from getting too hot. The answer is flip-flops or thong sandals as they were known in the 1960s.


Board Shirts

Before wetsuits were seen across the world on surfing beaches, surfers took a different approach. They smeared their bodies in petroleum jelly and covered up using a woollen shirt. This wasn’t just any shirt however, it was a woollen shirt made by Pendleton. The shirt was so ingrained in surf culture The Beach Boys were originally called the Pendletones.  Pendelton still makes the same shirt today. You don’t have to cover yourself in petroleum jelly to get the look however.

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