1960s in Western fashion

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"Swinging London" fashions on Carnaby Street, c. 1966. The National Archives (United Kingdom).
Swedish beatniks, 1965

The 1960s featured a number of diverse trends, it was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the time. Around the middle of the decade, fashions arising from small pockets of young people in a few urban centres received large amounts of media publicity, and began to heavily influence both the haute couture of elite designers and the mass-market manufacturers. Examples include the mini skirt, culottes, go-go boots, and more experimental jashions, less often seen on the street, such as box-shaped PVC dresses and other PVC clothes.

Mary Quant popularised the mini skirt, and Jackie Kennedy introduced the pillbox hat;[1] both became extremely popular. False eyelashes were worn by women throughout the 1960s. Hairstyles were a variety of lengths and styles.[2] Psychedelic prints, neon colors, and mismatched patterns were in style;[3] in the late 1960s, The hippie movement also exerted a strong influence on women's clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.

US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrives in Venezuela, 1961

In the early-to-mid 1960s, London "Modernists" known as Mods influenced male fashion in Britain.[4] Designers were producing clothing more suitable for young adults, which led to an increase in interest and sales.[5]

Early 1960s (1960–62)[edit]

High fashion[edit]

American fashions in the early years of the decade reflected the elegance of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy; in addition to tailored skirts, women wore Stiletto heel shoes and suits with short boxy jackets, and oversized 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 close-fitting waists. For casual wear, capri trousers were the fashion for women and girls.[citation needed]


Publicity photo of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello for Beach Party films (c. 1960s). Funicello was not permitted to expose her navel.

The bikini, named after the nuclear test site on Bikini Atoll, was invented in France in 1946 but struggled to gain acceptance in the mass-market during the 1950s, especially in America, the breakthrough came in 1963, after rather large versions featured in the surprise hit teen film Beach Party, which launched the Beach party film genre.

The rise of trousers for women[edit]

A pair of go-go boots designed by Andre Courrege in 1965.

The 1960s were an age of fashion innovation for women, the early 1960s gave birth to drainpipe jeans and capri pants, which were worn by Audrey Hepburn.[6] Casual dress became more unisex and often consisted of plaid button down shirts worn with slim blue jeans, comfortable slacks, or skirts. Traditionally, trousers had been viewed by western society as masculine, but by the early 1960s, it had become acceptable for women to wear them everyday, these included Levi Strauss jeans, which had previously been considered blue collar wear. Women’s trousers came in a variety of styles: narrow, wide, below the knee, above the ankle, and eventually mid thigh. Mid-thigh cut trousers, also known as shorts, evolved around 1969. By adapting men’s style and wearing trousers, women voiced their equality to men.[7]

Mid-1960s (1963–66)[edit]

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.

Space Age fashions[edit]

Space age fashion first appeared in the late 1950s, and developed further in the 1960s, it was heavily influenced by the Space Race of the Cold War, in addition to popular science fiction paperbacks, films and television series such as Star Trek, Dan Dare, or Lost In Space. Designers often emphasized the energy and technology advancements of the Cold War era in their work.[8][8]

The space age look was defined by boxy shapes, thigh length hemlines and bold accessories. Synthetic material was also popular with space age fashion designers, after the Second World War, fabrics like nylon, corfam, orlon, terylene, lurex and spandex were promoted as cheap, easy to dry, and wrinkle-free. The synthetic fabrics of the 1960s allowed space age fashion designers to design garments with bold shapes and a plastic texture.[9] Non-cloth material, such as polyester and PVC, became popular in clothing and accessories as well.

The French designer André Courrèges was particularly influential in the development of space age fashion, the “space look” he introduced in the spring of 1964 included trouser suits, goggles, box-shaped dresses with high skirts, and go-go boots. Go-go boots eventually became a staple of go-go girl fashion in the sixties,[10] the boots were defined by their fluorescent colors, shiny material, and sequins.

Other influential space age designers include Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne. Italian-born Pierre Cardin[11] was best-known for his helmets, short tunics, and goggles.[11] Paco Rabanne was known for his 1966 “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials” collection,[8] which made use of chain mail, aluminum, and plastic.[12]

A timeless fashion piece : Miniskirt[edit]

Though designer Mary Quant is credited with introducing the miniskirt in 1964, André Courrèges also claimed credit for inventing the miniskirt, the miniskirt changed fashion forever.

The definition of a miniskirt is a skirt with a hemline that is generally between 6 and 7 inches above the knees. Early references to the miniskirt from the Wyoming newspaper The Billings Gazette, described the miniskirt as a controversial item that was produced in Mexico City.[citation needed] During the 1950s, The miniskirt began appearing in science fiction films like Flight to Mars and Forbidden Planet[13]

Mary Quant and Andre Courreges both contributed to the invention of miniskirt during the 1960s. Mary Quant, A British designer, was one of the pioneers of the miniskirt during 1960. She named the skirt after her favorite car, the Mini Cooper. Quant introduced her design in the mid-60s at her London boutique, Bazaar, she has said: “ We wanted to increase the availability of fun for everyone. We felt that expensive things were almost immoral and the New Look was totally irrelevant to us.” Miniskirts became popular in London and Paris and the term “ Chelsea Look” was coined.[14]

Andre Courreges was a French fashion designer who also began experimenting with hemlines in the early 1960s. He started to show space-age dresses that hit above the knee in late 1964, his designs were more structured and sophisticated than Quant’s design.[citation needed] This made the miniskirt more acceptable to the French public, his clothes represented a couture version of the “Youthquake” street style and heralded the arrival of the “moon girl” look.[15]

As teen culture became stronger, the term “Youthquake” came to mean the power of young people, this was unprecedented before the 1960s. Before World War II, teenagers dressed and acted like their parents. Many settled down and began raising families when they were young, normally right after high school, they were often expected to work and assist their families financially. Therefore, youth culture begins to develop only after World War II, when the advancement of many technologies and stricter child labor laws became mainstream. Teenagers during this period more time to enjoy their youth, they had a freedom to create their own culture separate from their parents. Teens soon began establishing their own identities and communities, with their own views and ideas, and breaking away from their parents traditions,[16] the fabulous “ little girl “ look was introduced to USA —styling with Bobbie Brooks, bows, patterned knee socks and mini skirts. The miniskirt 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.[17]

The women’s liberation movement, Second wave feminism made the miniskirt became popular. Women had entered the workforce during World War II and many women soon found they craved a career and life outside the home,[18] they wanted the same choices, freedoms, and opportunities that were offered to men.[19]

Famous celebrities associated with marketing the miniskirt included: Twiggy; model Jean Shrimpton, who attended an event in the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia wearing a miniskirt in 1965; Goldie Hawn, who appeared on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In with her mini skirt in 1967; and Jackie Kennedy, who wore a short white pleated Valentino dress when she married Aristotle Onassis in 1968.

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. 1960s photography was in sharp contrast to the models of the 1920s, who were carefully posed for the camera and portrayed as immobile. The Single Girl represented ‘movement’, she was young, single, active, and economically self-sufficient. To represent this new Single Girl feminine ideal, many 1960s photographers photographed models outside—often having them walk or run in fashion shoots. Models in the 1960s also promoted sports wear, which reflected the modern fascination with speed and the quickening pace of the 1960s urban life, although the Single Girl was economically, socially and emotionally self-sufficient, the ideal body form was difficult for many to achieve. Therefore, women were constrained by diet restrictions that seemed to contradict the image of the empowered 1960s Single Girl.[20]

Fashion photographers also photographed the Single Girl wearing business wear, calling her the Working Girl, the Working Girl motif represented another shift for the modern, fashionable woman. Unlike earlier periods, characterised by formal evening gowns and the European look, the 1960s Working Girl popularized day wear and "working clothing". 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.[20]

Dolly Girl[edit]

The "Dolly Girl" was another archetype for young females in the 1960's, she emerged in the mid-sixties, and her defining characteristic is the iconic miniskirt. "Dolly Girls" also sported long hair, slightly teased, of course, and childish-looking clothing. Clothes were worn tight fitting, sometimes even purchased from a children's section. Dresses were often embellished with lace, ribbons, and other frills; the look was topped off with light colored tights. Crocheted clothing also took off within this specific style. [21]

Mod and British Invasion influences[edit]

The leaders of mid-1960s style were the British, the Mods (short for Modernists) adopted new fads that would be imitated by many 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, the Beatles, and The Kinks emerged from the Mod subculture. It was not until 1964, when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public, that women really were accepted in the group. Women 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 that were topped by anoraks. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. Mod fashion was often described as the City Gent look, the young men[22] incorporated striped boating blazers and bold prints into their wardrobe.[23] 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. Mod girls wore very very short miniskirts, tall, brightly colored go-go boots, monochromatic geometric print patterns such as houndstooth, and tight fitted, sleeveless tunics. Flared trousers and bell bottoms appeared in 1964 as an alternative to capri pants, and led the way to the hippie period introduced in the 1960s. Bell bottoms 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.[24] Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.[4] 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 was also popular in the early 2000s.

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

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 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" first 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, 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 popular, as well as the "cocktail dress", which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves.[25] Feather boas were occasionally worn.

Corsets, seamed tights, and skirts covering the knees were no longer fashionable, the idea of buying urbanized clothing that could be worn with separate pieces was intriguing to women of this era. In the past, one would only buy specific outfits for certain occasions.[26]

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 slim. 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.[citation needed] 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.

Starting in 1967, youth culture began to change musically and Mod culture shifted to a more laid back hippie or Bohemian style. 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 female audience that enjoyed psychedelia.[27]

In the USSR during the mid to late 1960s, Mods and Hippies were nicknamed Hairies for their mop top hair,[28] as with the earlier Stilyagi in the 1950s, young Russian men who dressed this way were ridiculed in the media, and sometimes forced to get their hair cut in police stations.[29]

Late 1960s (1967–69)[edit]

The hippie subculture[edit]

Ponchos, moccasins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed "bubble" sleeves were popular fashions in the late 1960s. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, work shirts, Jesus sandals, and headbands. Women would often go barefoot and some went braless, the idea of 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; clothing pieces often had similar elements and created similar silhouettes, but there was no real "uniform".[30]

Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, the "lounging" or "hostess" pajamas were also popular. "Hostess" pajamas consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, 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 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" emerged during this era.[citation needed]

Peacock Revolution[edit]

By 1968, the space age mod fashions had been gradually replaced by Edwardian influenced style, with men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats and shirts with frilled collars, their hair worn below the collar bone. Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones epitomised this "dandified" look. Due to the colorful nature of menswear, the time period was described as the Peacock Revolution, and male trendsetters in Britain and America were called "Dandies," "Dudes," or “Peacocks.”[31] From the late 60s until the mid 70s Carnaby Street and Chelsea's Kings Road were virtual fashion parades, as mainstream menswear took on psychedelic influences. Business suits were replaced by Bohemian Carnaby Street creations that included corduroy, velvet or brocade double breasted suits, frilly shirts, cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots, and even collarless Nehru jackets. The slim neckties of the early 60s were replaced with Kipper ties exceeding five inches in width, and featuring crazy prints, stripes and patterns.[32]

Indian fashion[edit]

Middle class Indian menswear followed postwar European trends, but most women continued to wear traditional dress such as the saree.

In general, urban Indian men imitated Western fashions such as the business suit, this was adapted to India's hot tropical climate as the Nehru suit, a garment often made from khadi that typically had a mandarin collar and patch pockets. From the early 1950s until the mid 60s, most Indian women maintained traditional dress such as the gagra choli, saree, and churidar. At the same time as the hippies of the late 60s were imitating Indian fashions, however, some fashion conscious Indian and Ceylonese women began to incorporate modernist Western trends.[33] One particularly infamous fad combined the miniskirt with the traditional saree, prompting a moral panic where conservatives denounced the so-called "hipster saree"[34] as indecent.

Hairstyles of the 1960s[edit]

Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones with typical mod haircut, 1967
The Beatles exerted a major influence on young men's fashions and hairstyles in the 1960s.

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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37][38] Hair styles were very big and used a large quantity of hair spray (hence the musical Hairspray), somewhat like ours today.

Image gallery[edit]

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

See also[edit]

Fashion designers[edit]

Style icons[edit]


Fashion photographers[edit]

Teenage subcultures[edit]



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  9. ^ Walford, Johnathan (2013). Sixties fashion: From less is more to youthquake. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 110. ISBN 9780500516935. 
  10. ^ Yotka, Steff. "Remembering André Courrèges". Vogue. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  11. ^ a b "Pierre Cardin". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
  12. ^ Kennedy, Alicia (2013). Fashion design, referenced: A visual guide to the history, language, and practice of fashion. Gloucester. MA: Rockport. ISBN 978-1592536771. 
  13. ^ Parks, C. (2015, March 23). The Miniskirt: An Evolution From The '60s To Now. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/mini-skirt-evolution_n_6894040.html
  14. ^ Paula Reed. (2012). In Fifty fashion looks that changed the 1960s (pp. 30-31). England: Alison Starling.
  15. ^ Koda, H. (2010). 100 dresses: The Costume Institute , The Metropolitan Museum of Art. S.l.: Yale University Press.
  16. ^ Blackman, C. (2012). 100 years of fashion. London: Laurence King Pub.
  17. ^ Nectara , J ( 2012, July 13 ).The Miniskirt – A Short History. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.fashionavecpassion.com/the-miniskirt-a-short-history/
  18. ^ Bourne, L. (2014). A history of the Miniskirt : How fashion’s most daring hemline came to be. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://stylecaster.com/history-of-the-miniskirt/
  19. ^ Niara. (2016, January 9). Aesthetics and Activism : The history of miniskirt. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.collegefashion.net/inspiration/the-history-of-the-miniskirt/
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ . Bond, David (1981). The Guinness Guide to 20th Century Fashion. Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Limited. pp. 164, 176. ISBN 0851122345
  22. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. p. 895. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  23. ^ "For Your Love: The Best of the Sixties British Invasion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  24. ^ Tarrant, Naomi (1994). The Development of Costume. London: Routledge. p. 88. 
  25. ^ Contini, p. 317
  26. ^ 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. 
  27. ^ Hosiery Trends Over The Decades
  28. ^ 1965 revolutionary music
  29. ^ The Guardian
  30. ^ Miles, Barry (2004). Hippie. Sterling. ISBN 1402714424. 
  31. ^ "The Peacock Revolution". The Peacock Revolution and the Beatles: British Men's Fashion from 1963-1973. Retrieved 2017-10-07. 
  32. ^ Marshall, Peter (February 27, 2009). "Peacock Revolution: Informal Counterculture". Black-tie-guide 2009. 
  33. ^ Eastern miniskirt
  34. ^ Ceylonese mini saree
  35. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. p. 935. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  36. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Sarah (2004). Fashion, Costume and Culture. MI, USA: Thomson Gale. pp. 937–938. ISBN 0-7876-5422-1. 
  37. ^ Collins, Amy Fine (1 June 2003). "It had to be Kenneth.(hairstylist Kenneth Battelle)(Interview)". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  38. ^ Wong, Aliza Z. (2010). Julie Willett, ed. The American beauty industry encyclopedia: Hairstylists, Celebrity. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. pp. 151–154. ISBN 9780313359491. 

External links[edit]