1960s in fashion

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"Swinging London" fashions on Carnaby Street, c. 1966. The National Archives (United Kingdom).
The Beatles exerted a major influence on young men's fashions and hairstyles in the 1960s.

The 1960s featured a number of diverse trends. It was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the time. In the middle of the decade, culottes, go-go boots, box-shaped PVC dresses and other PVC clothes were popular. The widely popular bikini came into fashion in 1963 after being featured in the musical Beach Party.

Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt, and Jackie Kennedy introduced the pillbox hat,[1] both becoming extremely popular. False eyelashes were worn by women throughout the 1960s, and their hairstyles were a variety of lengths and styles.[2] People were dressing in psychedelic prints, highlighter colors, and mismatched patterns.[3] The hippie movement late in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies' clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye, and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.

In the early-to-mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade.[4]

Designers were producing clothing more suitable for young adults, which led to an increase in interest and sales.[5]

Early 1960s[edit]

Until the 1960s, it was high profile designers from Paris and London who dictated styles worn by people. However, during and after the 1960s it was young, common people who dictated fashion. They would influence style and designers would attempt to keep up with the trends that they created. One such group of young people were known as mods and rockers. The women wore very short skirts, tall, brightly colored boots, and tight fitted, sleeveless tunics. The young men dressed like rock star Pete Townshend of the rock band the Who.[6]

Fashions in the early years of the decade reflected the elegance of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to the pillbox hat, which is discussed in detail below, women wore suits with short boxy jackets, and over-sized buttons. Simple, geometric dresses, known as shifts, were also in style. For evening wear, full-skirted evening gowns were worn; these often had a low décolletage and had close-fitting waists. For casual wear, capri trousers were the fashion for women and girls.

Stiletto heel shoes were widely popular. As the suits drifted away from pale, toned shades, menswear was now bright and colourful. It included frills and cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots and even collarless jackets. Ties were worn even five inches wide, with crazy prints, stripes and patterns. Casual dress consisted of plaid button down shirts with comfortable slacks or skirts.[7]

The Mods were a British fashion phenomenon in the mid-1960s with their anoraks, tailored Italian suits, and scooters.
During the early and mid-1960s, Greasers, also known as Ton-up Boys, were identifiable by their blue jeans and black Schott Perfecto leather jackets.
A cocktail dress decorated with metal discs by designer, Paco Rabanne, 1967

Mid-1960s[edit]

After designer Mary Quant introduced the mini-skirt in 1964, fashions of the 1960s were changed forever. The mini skirt was eventually to be worn by nearly every stylish young woman in the western world and pushed out the longer skirt lengths that were worn before. The mini-skirt and the "little girl" look that accompanied it reflect a revolutionary shift in the way people dress. Instead of younger generations dressing like adults, they became inspired by childlike dress.[8]

The 1960s had many different varieties. For example, the mini dress was usually A-line in shape or a sleeveless shift. In 1964, French designer André Courrèges introduced the "space look", with trouser suits, white boots, goggles, and box-shaped dresses whose skirts soared three inches above the knee. These were mainly designed in fluorescent colours and shiny fabrics such as PVC and sequins.[9]

The leaders of mid-1960s style were the British. The Mods (short for Modernists) were characterized by their choice of style different from the 1950s and adopted new fads that would be imitated by many young people. As the Mods strongly influenced the fashion in London, 1960s fashion in general set the mood for the rest of the century as it became marketed mainly to young people. Mods formed their own way of life creating television shows and magazines that focused directly on the lifestyles of Mods.[1] British rock bands such as The Who, The Small Faces, and The Kinks emerged from the Mod subculture. The Mods were known for the Modern Jazz they listened to as they showed their new styles off at local cafes. They worked at the lower end of the work force, usually nine to five jobs leaving time for clothes, music, and clubbing.[1] It was not until 1964 when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public that women really were accepted in the group. Girls had short, clean haircuts and often dressed in similar styles to the male Mods.[4] The Mods' lifestyle and musical tastes were the exact opposite of their rival group known as the Rockers. The rockers liked 1950s rock-and roll, wore black leather jackets, greased, pompadour hairstyles, and rode motorbikes. The look of the Mods was classy; they mimicked the clothing and hairstyles of high fashion designers in France and Italy; opting for tailored suits, which were topped by anoraks that became their trademark. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. The Mods dress style was often called the City Gent look. Shirts were slim, with a necessary button down collar accompanied by slim fitted pants.[4] Levi's were the only type of jeans worn by Modernists. Flared trousers and bellbottoms led the way to the hippie stage introduced in the 1960s. Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.[4]

Carnaby Street and Chelsea's Kings Road were virtual fashion parades. In 1966, the space age was gradually replaced by the Edwardian, with the men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars, and their hair worn below the collar bone. Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones epitomised this "dandified" look. Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby, Penelope Tree, and Veruschka. Velvet mini dresses with lace-collars and matching cuffs, wide tent dresses and culottes had pushed aside the geometric shift. False eyelashes were in vogue, as was pale lipstick. Hemlines kept rising, and by 1968 they had reached well above mid-thigh. These were known as "micro-minis". This was when the "angel dress" made its appearance on the fashion scene. A micro-mini dress with a flared skirt and long, wide trumpet sleeves, it was usually worn with patterned tights, and was often made of crocheted lace, velvet, chiffon or sometimes cotton with a psychedelic print such as those designed by Emilio Pucci. The cowled-neck "monk dress" was another religion-inspired alternative; the cowl could be pulled up to be worn over the head. For evening wear, skimpy chiffon baby-doll dresses with spaghetti-straps were the mode as well as the "cocktail dress", which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves.[10] Feather boas were occasionally worn.

In 1964, Bell-bottomed trousers were a new alternative to the capris of the early 1960s. They were usually worn with chiffon blouses, polo-necked ribbed sweaters or tops that bared the midriff. These were made in a variety of materials including heavy denims, silks, and even elasticated fabrics.[11] A popular look for females was the suede mini-skirt worn with a French polo-neck top, square-toed boots, and Newsboy cap or beret. This style came back in the early 2000s.

The look of corsets, seamed tights, and skirts covering the knees had been abolished. The idea of buying urbanized clothing, which could be worn with separate pieces, was intriguing to women of this era in comparison to previously only buying specific outfits for certain occasions.[12]

For daytime outerwear, short plastic raincoats, colourful swing coats and dyed fake-furs were popular for young women. In 1966, the Nehru jacket arrived on the fashion scene, and was worn by both sexes. Suits were very diverse in color but were for the first time ever fitted and very slimming. Waistlines for women were left unmarked and hemlines were getting shorter and shorter.

French actress Brigitte Bardot wearing a transparent top and a feather boa, 1968

Footwear for women included low-heeled sandals and kitten-heeled pumps, as well as the trendy white go-go boots. Shoes, boots, and handbags were often made of patent leather or vinyl. The Beatles wore elastic-sided boots similar to Winkle-pickers with pointed toes and Cuban heels. These were known as "Beatle boots" and were widely copied by young men in Britain.

Late 1960s[edit]

Bell-bottoms, colourful headbands, and bare feet were part of the unisex hippie look that was popular in the late 1960s

By 1968, the androgynous hippie look was in style. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, workshirts, and headbands. Wearing sandals was also part of the hippie look for both men and women. Women would often go barefoot, and some went braless. The idea multiculturalism also became very popular; a lot of style inspiration was drawn from traditional clothing in Nepal, India, Bali, Morocco and African countries. Because inspiration was being drawn from all over the world, there was increasing separation of style; though clothing pieces often had similar elements and created similar silhouettes, there was no real "uniform".[13]

Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, the "lounging" or "hostess" pajamas. These consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, and were usually made of polyester or chiffon.

Long maxi coats, often belted and lined in sheepskin, appeared at the close of the decade. Animal prints were also popular for women in the autumn and winter of 1969. Women's shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of "Woodstock" came about in this generation.[citation needed]

The rise of trousers for women[edit]

The 1960s were an age for fashion innovation for women. With it came the rise of women’s trousers. Traditionally, trousers had been viewed by western society as masculine. However, by the 1960s, it became acceptable for women to wear trousers as well. Women loved trouser because of their practicality, comfort and versatility. Women wore trousers with tunics, shawls, and jackets. The women’s trousers came in a variety of styles: narrow, wide, below the knee, above the ankle, and eventually mid thigh. These mid-thigh cut trousers evolved around 1969, and became the modern shorts. By adapting men’s style and wearing trousers, women voiced their equality to men.[14]

The most important change in hairstyles during this period was that men and women wore styles that resembled each other. It was the new fashion for women used to cut their hair short and close to their heads.[15] Head coverings changed dramatically towards the end of the decade as men's hats went out of style, replaced by the bandanna, if anything at all. As men let their hair grow long, the Afro became the hairstyle of choice for African Americans. This afro was not just a fashion statement but also an emblem of racial pride.They started to believe that by allowing their hair to grow in its nature state without chemical treatments, they would be accepting their racial identities.[16] Mop-top hairstyles were most popular for white and Hispanic men, beginning as a short version around 1963 through 1964, developing into a longer style worn during 1965–66, eventually evolving into an unkempt hippie version worn during the 1967–69 period which continued in the early 1970s. Facial hair, evolving in its extremity from simply having longer sideburns, to mustaches and goatees, to full-grown beards became popular with young men from 1966 onwards. Women's hair styles ranged from beehive hairdos in the early part of the decade to the very short styles popularized by Twiggy and Mia Farrow just five years later to a very long straight style as popularized by the hippies in the late 1960s. Between these extremes, the chin-length contour cut and the pageboy were also popular. The pillbox hat was fashionable, due almost entirely to the influence of Jacqueline Kennedy, who was a style-setter throughout the decade. Her bouffant hairstyle, described as a "grown-up exaggeration of little girls' hair", was created by Kenneth.[17][18] Hair styles were very big and used a large quantity of hair spray (hence HairSpray the musical), somewhat like ours today.

The Single Girl[edit]

Jean Shrimpton was a model who reflected the ideal of the single girl.

Fashion photography in the 1960s represented a new feminine ideal for women and young girls: the Single Girl. The Single Girl represented ‘movement’. She was young, single, active, and economically self-sufficient. Although the Single Girl was economically, socially and emotionally self-sufficient, the ideal body form; that of the adolescent was difficult for many to achieve. Therefore, women were constrained by diet restrictions that seemed to contradict the sense of the empowered 1960s Single Girl.[19]

Fashion Photography in the 1960s[edit]

The 1960s photography was in sharp contrast to the models of the 1920s, which photographers carefully posed for the camera, and portrayed as immobile. To represent this new Single Girl feminine ideal, many 1960s photographers shot models outside, often having them walk or run in fashion shoots. Models in the 1960s now promoted sports wear and working wear. This sports wear trend exemplified the trends of the 1960s: the modern fascination with speed, and the quickening pace of the 1960s urban life.

Fashion photographers also photographed the Single Girl wearing working wear, calling her the Working Girl. The Working Girl motif represented another shift for the modern, fashionable woman. Unlike earlier fashionable periods, when formal evening gowns and the European look trended, the 1960s Working Girl popularized daywear and “working clothing”. Now, new ready to wear lines replaced individualized formal couture fashion. The Working Girl created an image of a new, independent woman who has control over her body.[19]

Additional fads and trends[edit]

Pete Townshend of The Who, (1967), lace sewn into his clothing

The 1960s also gave birth to the drainpipe jeans, worn by Audrey Hepburn. Jeans were only one of several leg wear trends that found traction in the 1960s. Hosiery, and tights in particular, became very popular. Hosiery manufacturers of the time like Mary Quant (who founded Pamela Mann Legwear) combined the "Flower Power" style of dress and the Pop Art school of design to create fashion tights that would appeal to a wide and emerging audience.[20]

The late 1960s produced a style categorized of people who promoted sexual liberation and favored a type of politics reflecting "peace, love and freedom".[citation needed] Ponchos, moccasins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed "bubble" sleeves were additional trends in the late 1960s.

New materials other than cloth (such as polyester and PVC) started to become more popular as well.

Starting in 1967, the Mod culture began to change musically and the culture altered to a more laid back hippy style including psychedelia. the following years became known as the summers of love, with festivals etc.

Image gallery[edit]

A selection of images representing the fashion trends of the 1960s:

See also[edit]

Fashion designers[edit]

Style icons[edit]

Supermodels[edit]

Fashion photographers[edit]

Other[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Braggs, Steve, and Diane Harris. 60s Mods.". Retrowow.co.uk. March 1, 2009. 
  2. ^ Rich Candace (April 8, 2009). "Makeup". Fiftiesweb.com. 
  3. ^ Dir. Vidcat1. Redtube (February 13, 2007). "Vintage Fashion Newsreels 1960s". Youtube.com. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Braggs, Steve, and Diane Harris. 60s Mods". Retrowow.co.uk. March 1, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Goodwin, Susan, and Becky Bradley. American Cultural History: 1960–1969". Kingwood College Library. Kclibrary.lonestar.edu. March 1, 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. p. 895. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  7. ^ Marshall, Peter (February 27, 2009). "Peacock Revolution: Informal Counterculture". Black-tie-guide 2009. 
  8. ^ perl, lila (1990). From Top Hats to Baseball Caps, From Bustles to Blue Jeans. New York: Clarion Books. pp. 4–6. ISBN 0899198724. 
  9. ^ Fashion From Ancient Egypt To The Present Day, by Mila Contini, p. 317
  10. ^ Contini, p. 317
  11. ^ Tarrant, Naomi (1994). The Development of Costume. London: Routledge. p. 88. 
  12. ^ Belinda T. Orzada (2000-01-10). "Orzada, Belinda T. "Fashion Trends and Cultural Influences 1960-present." Twentieth Century Design: Ethnic Influences. 7 Oct. 1998. University of Delaware. 10 Apr. 2009". Udel.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  13. ^ Miles, Barry (2004). Hippie. Sterling. ISBN 1402714424. 
  14. ^ Deslandres, François Boucher ; with a new chapter by Yvonne (1987). 20,000 years of fashion : the history of costume and personal adornment (Expanded ed. ed.). New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-1693-2. 
  15. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. p. 935. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  16. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. pp. 937–938. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  17. ^ Collins, Amy Fine (1 June 2003). "It had to be Kenneth.(hairstylist Kenneth Battelle)(Interview)". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  18. ^ Wong, Aliza Z. (2010). Julie Willett, ed. The American beauty industry encyclopedia: Hairstylists, Celebrity. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. pp. 151–154. ISBN 9780313359491. 
  19. ^ a b Radner, Hilary (2001). "Embodying the Single Girl in the 1960s". In Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth B. Wilson. Body Dressing. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 183–197. ISBN 1859734448. 
  20. ^ Hosiery Trends Over The Decades

External links[edit]