Sixties Fashion was exciting. It could be colorful or drab, fashion forward or laid-back, tailored or relaxed, designer or tie-dyed it was a smorgasbord of styles. It was a time of political and social unrest and nothing portrayed those conficts more clearly than the fashion. Styles which were previously driven by the necessities of the middle class and elite were now being designed for young people who constituted a newly empowered market. This new market wanted it new, fresh and definitely their way.
In one fashion camp were the social anarchists rebeling against the establishment as well as mainstream styles. The Hippie movement favored relaxed, comfortable and natural clothing styles although there were some very unique and imaginative things done with leather and beading, the norm for most college age kids was bluejeans and a tee shirt (tie-dyed or not).
If you were in grade school however your parents were your fashion guide so you still dressed conservatively.
Some trends did emerge,Catholic school girl collars were very popular in the early sixties as were tartan plaid skirts.
Photo courtesy of
Lone Star College
The other 1960s fashion style was in a lot of ways much more of a departure from what had been the status quo. With it’s bright colors, leg revealing lengths, and hyper tailored designs Mod Fashions were a must for the “in crowd”. Designers like Cardin, Emilio Pucci and Paco Rabanne jumped on this fashion trend to showcase their talents.
Other very popular styles of the sixties which proved to be more enduring were the mini skirt and bell bottom pants.
The mini was the most seen fashion modification of the decade. It was worn by everyone from the trendiest celebrities to office workers, to housewives. Along with the birth control pill nothing else empowered women as much. The mini embodied the growing woman’s movement portraying both their individuality and sexuality.
Space travel had an influence on 1960’s fashion as well. The use of “modern” materials such as plastics and shiny metallic fabrics dominated the high fashion scene for a time.
Young Londoner in a mini
Magazine ad from the 1960’s
Space age materials
Prior to the British invasion in 1964 sixties fashion was a continuation of the late 1950s. But with the Beatles came a new and very different fashion influence not Paris or Milan but “swinging” London. The brand new post war “babyboomer” generation was proving that it was a power to be reckoned with. With energy and sheer numbers on their side they turned the designers away from catering to the old and wealthy to creating fashions specifically for young adults. As the phenomenon continued teens and even pre-teens were also included for the first time. Mary Quant out of her small boutique in London hit upon the winning combinations and started a fashion feeding frenzy starting with the mini skirt and crowning with major fashion houses the likes of Chanel and Dior following suit.
(picture on right from Sears Catalog)
How London influenced everyday sixties fashion.
Hippie fashion was relaxed, easy, inexpensive and best of all anti-establishment. Its relevance in fashion was fairly narrow but the impact the youth who wore it had on society,music,culture and politics was substantial.
Mod influenced hippie styles
and vice versa
Tie-dying of almost
anything became “chic”.
Various sixties boot styles