1960s Fashion

1960s fashion

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).

hippie fashion
Relaxed hippie clothing
sixties college girl
College students

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.

teenage 1960s clothes1960s school kids
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.

mod fashion
“Mod” Fashions

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.

1960s vinyl boots
Nancy Sinatra helped to popularize
the “Mini”
(don’t forget those “boots”).
Twiggy in a mini
Twiggy was the face of the decade
Click for more Twiggy photos 

mini skirt
Young Londoner in a mini

mini skirt on a scooter
Magazine ad from the 1960’s

1960's mettalic fashion
Space age materials

early 1960s clothesPrior 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.

   mod outfit       (picture on right from Sears Catalog)  1962 clothes

How London influenced everyday sixties fashion.

By the late sixties Mod fashions were a bit more subdued but still very popular

mod fashion

 Notice the European influence 1960s mod clothes

Meanwhile in California the hippie movement was gaining popularity.
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.

1960s hippie clothes
Mod influenced hippie styles
and vice versa
hippie clothes
Tie-dying of almost
anything became “chic”.
tie die shirt1960s hippie look
carefree style

 One fashion item that not only survived the sixties and was also worn by young and old, short and tall, mainstream and radical, was the mini skirt. That was not the intent however. Mary Quant’s husband once remarked that mini’s aren’t for anyone over 30 years of age, he was 32 at the time.
Nothing showed off the mini better than a good pair of boots.

girl in mini skirt     cool boots    sixties style boots
Various sixties boot styles

Even your transportation. A bus was more “groovy” than a car. sixties hippie bus