1960s Fashion Styles

Swinging 60s

Women's Fashion

1960s – the beginning

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 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 close-fitting waists. For casual wear, capri trousers were the fashion for women and girls. 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, though it did in fact debut earlier on the beaches of France all the way back in 1946 and hit the big screen in Manina, la fille sans voile in 1952, starring Brigitte Bardot.

Woman wearing red 1960s mini dress

The period was an age of fashion innovation for women. The early 1960s gave birth to drainpipe jeans and capri pants, which were worn by Audrey Hepburn. Her simple style of clothing had been widely copied since the 1950s, and now she appeared in the 1961 hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. For this she was dressed by the couturier Hubert de Givenchy. Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Patou experimented with cut in 1960s fashion, creating clothing that didn’t follow an hourglass figure (or attempt to create one). 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 every day. These included Levi Strauss jeans, which had previously been considered blue collar wear, and "stretch" drainpipe jeans with elastane. 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. For evening’s, the slender look was in. Long-waisted dresses, often with an over blouse, replaced the fitted waistline and full skirt. Although 1960s blouses were slightly looser than those worn in the previous decade, in the early half of the sixties they were still close fitting. Blouses were either short, long sleeved or completely sleeveless, loose to tight fit in either plain colours or patterns

The space age look was defined by boxy shapes, thigh length hemlines and bold accessories. For daytime outerwear, short plastic raincoats, colourful swing coatsbubble dresses, helmet-like hats, 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. Mary Quant and Andre Courreges both contributed to the invention of the miniskirt during the 1960s. Mary Quant led the way in the “youthquake”. She opened her first shop, Bazaar, on the King’s Road in Chelsea, London in 1955. The New Look was no longer in vogue – “miniskirts were in”, and the term "Chelsea Look" was coined.  Barbara Hulanicki founded the Biba style, this was the classically youthful, androgynous look of the Swinging Sixties London. Mini-skirts, shift dresses, tunic smocks, baby doll dresses, coloured tights and floppy hats stocked the store. As teen culture became stronger, the term "Youthquake" came to mean the power of young people. Teenagers during this period had more time to enjoy their youth, and the 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, breaking away from the traditions of their parents. 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.

Mid 1960s

During the mid 1960s, 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. 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.

Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included TwiggyJean 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. 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. Throughout the decade, fur coats are much sought after because they are seen as a status symbol. Synthetic material was also popular with space age fashion designers. For daytime outerwear, short plastic raincoats, colourful swing coatsbubble dresses, helmet-like hats, and dyed fake-furs were popular for young women. Capri pants are popular, bell bottoms never went out of fashion and hippie clothes are a 1960s fashion must have. Capri pants were also called pedal pushers. Culottes, divided skirts and trim trouser skirts were introduced for travel, street wear and evenings at home.

Women wearing 1960s fitted coats

The Working Girl motif represented another shift for the modern, fashionable woman. Unlike earlier periods, characterized 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. Icons such as Twiggy popularized the shapeless shift dresses emphasizing an image of innocence as they did not fit to any contours of the human body. The female body has forever been a sign of culturally constructed ideals. The long-limbed and pre-pubescent style of the time depicts how women were able to be more independent, yet paradoxically, also were put into a box of conceived ideals.

The "Dolly Girl" was another archetype for young females in the 1960s. She emerged in the mid 1960s, 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. Corsets, seamed tights, and skirts covering the knees were no longer fashionable. Nightgowns and peignoir sets are still common. Named after the 1956 film, Baby Doll, the baby doll continues on in popularity in the 1960's.

 Late 1960s

Starting in 1967, youth culture began to change musically and Mod culture shifted to a more laid back hippie or Bohemian style. 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 with the move towards the “hippie” aesthetic; 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". 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. Skirts dipped back to mid-calf and by 1969, the full-length maxi-skirt had emerged. Women's shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of "Woodstock" emerged during this era.

During the late 1960s, there was a backlash by radical feminists in America against accouterments of what they perceived to be enforced femininity within the fashion industry. Instead, these activists wore androgynous and masculine clothing such as jeans, work boots or berets. Black feminists often wore afros in reaction to the hair straighteners associated with middle class white women. At the 1968 feminist Miss America protest, protestors symbolically threw a number of feminine fashion-related products into a "Freedom Trash Can," including false eyelashes, high-heeled shoes, curlers, hairspray, makeup, girdlescorsets, and bras which they termed "instruments of female torture"

Men's Fashion

Shirts, Coats, Jackets and Pants


References: Wikipedia