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Hep cats! Fashion in the 1960s

Stefan Andrews

From geometric prints and designs to tie-dye shirts and psychedelic colors; from uniformity and restraint to showing a lot of skin and total individualism. Fashion and fads of the early 1960s were completely swapped by those that followed at the end of the decade as if the decade itself suffered to some sort of schizophrenia.

Among the fashion icons of the day were Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, and Mary Quant. And there were also The Beatles, later on, also the Hippies. It was a decade of striking contrasts, and a decade in which fashion trends were also for the first time greatly dictated not by designers in Paris only.

The first years of the 1960s were marked by outfits that overtly carried a sentiment of conservative: the longer dresses, the classy suits and well-polished shoes, a lot of fancy hats and gloves too. Perhaps that reflected society, but soon things came to a ‘boiling point.’ There were too many subcultures where more creative expressions were ripe to burst from the mold, which is exactly what followed.

While guys were fast to adopt Beatles hairstyles as the British band suddenly rocked the world with their refreshing new music, girls were fast attuned to the novelty of miniskirts. The latter was the “guilt” of French designer André Courrèges who was increasingly daring with hemlines and eventually launched space-age dresses that became the hit of the mid-1960s… and ever after.

Photo of Jayne Mansfield and husband Mickey Hargitay dancing at the Candy Stik Lounge.

Photo of Jayne Mansfield and husband Mickey Hargitay dancing at the Candy Stik Lounge.

 

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. Author Triton Rocker CC BY 3.0

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. Author Triton Rocker CC BY 3.0

 

London visitors from around the world await the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, 1962. Author Don O’Brian CC BY 2.0

London visitors from around the world await the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, 1962. Author Don O’Brian CC BY 2.0

 

“Swinging London” fashions on Carnaby Street, c. 1966. The National Archives (United Kingdom).

“Swinging London” fashions on Carnaby Street, c. 1966. The National Archives (United Kingdom).

Best of 1960s Slang

Singer and actress Barbra Streisand in 1962 wearing a top with a crew-neck. Her hair is teased at the crown.

Singer and actress Barbra Streisand in 1962 wearing a top with a crew-neck. Her hair is teased at the crown.

 

Singer Maria Muldaur in 1968, wearing a Romani-style kerchief and hoop earrings. Author Ad Yourdon CC BY-SA 2.0

Singer Maria Muldaur in 1968, wearing a Romani-style kerchief and hoop earrings. Author Ad Yourdon CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. First Lady and style icon Jacqueline Kennedy arrives in Venezuela, 1961.

U.S. First Lady and style icon Jacqueline Kennedy arrives in Venezuela, 1961.

 

The Beach Boys in 1963.

The Beach Boys in 1963.

 

Pete Townshend of The Who, 1967. Author Klaus Hiltscher CC BY-SA 2.0

Pete Townshend of The Who, 1967. Author Klaus Hiltscher CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones with a typical mod haircut, 1967. Author Ben Merk CC BY-SA 3.0

Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones with a typical mod haircut, 1967. Author Ben Merk CC BY-SA 3.0

 

In 1965 sleeveless shift dresses were popular with women.

In 1965 sleeveless shift dresses were popular with women.

 

Two men at the Woodstock Festival, 1969. Author Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell

Two men at the Woodstock Festival, 1969. Author Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell

 

Boy with a mop top hair cut, 1969.

Boy with a mop top hair cut, 1969.

 

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from the comic thriller Charade, dressed by Givenchy, 1963.

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from the comic thriller Charade, dressed by Givenchy, 1963.

 

Colleen Corby, teenage supermodel of the mid-1960s.

Colleen Corby, teenage supermodel of the mid-1960s.

 

Graciela Borges, Argentine fashion icon of the 1960s, wearing a fur coat, bouffant hair and winged eye liner.

Graciela Borges, Argentine fashion icon of the 1960s, wearing a fur coat, bouffant hair and winged eye liner.

 

Jean Shrimpton was a model who reflected the ideal of the single girl. Author Joost Evers CC BY-SA 3.0

Jean Shrimpton was a model who reflected the ideal of the single girl. Author Joost Evers CC BY-SA 3.0

 

The Rat Pack in the early 60s. Author inkknife CC BY-SA 2.0

The Rat Pack in the early 60s. Author inkknife CC BY-SA 2.0

 

American girl wearing a mini skirt and patterned tights, 1966. Author John Atherton CC BY-SA 2.0

American girl wearing a mini skirt and patterned tights, 1966. Author John Atherton CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Argentine rock band Los Gatos in 1968, with psychedelic prints and British-inspired hairstyles.

Argentine rock band Los Gatos in 1968, with psychedelic prints and British-inspired hairstyles.

 

The popular dandified male fashion in 1968

The popular dandified male fashion in 1968

 

Swedish beatniks, 1965. Author Andy Eic CC BY 2.0

Swedish beatniks, 1965. Author Andy Eic CC BY 2.0

Ultimate slang from the 1970s

In the late 1960s, brides often wore white mini-wedding dresses. Author Jemsweb CC BY-SA 2.0

In the late 1960s, brides often wore white mini-wedding dresses. Author Jemsweb CC BY-SA 2.0

 

1960s beachwear fashion.

1960s beachwear fashion.

 

Original vintage colour slide from 1960s, young woman relaxing on a beach with her car.

Original vintage colour slide from 1960s, young woman relaxing on a beach with her car.

 

Vintage black and white photo from the sixties of a young woman looking at vinyl records.

Vintage black and white photo from the sixties of a young woman looking at vinyl records.

 

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an American boat in California, 1964.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an American boat in California, 1964.

Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson while sporting her iconic bouffant hairstyle, 1966.

Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson while sporting her iconic bouffant hairstyle, 1966.

 

A woman feeding a crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. CC BY-SA 3.0

A woman feeding a crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Mary Quant in 1966, with a mini-dress of her own creation, which she wears with a sheepskin coat and go-go boots. Author Anefo CC BY-SA 3.0

Mary Quant in 1966, with a mini-dress of her own creation, which she wears with a sheepskin coat and go-go boots. Author Anefo CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, 1960. Four young Mexican ladies crossing a street in Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, 1960. Four young Mexican ladies crossing a street in Nuevo Laredo.

Towards the end of the decade, uniformity was entirely replaced with more colors, various styles that broke homogeneity of society–and for men, longer hair and longer beards.

The Hippie Movement garnered an undeniable special relationship with fashion. Different styles were used to communicate the main messages and values which the movement itself promoted. Fashion in this sense was for the first time used as a tool to “erode” capitalism, eroding the mainstream fashion fads of the day.

In that sense, vintage blue jeans combined with T-shirts did just fine. Old pieces of clothes were recycled, reused, and redesigned. Some attires were prominent for their body-hugging features. Other pieces were outrageous. Nudity was acceptable too. Hippies, to some degree, were sometimes all about anti-fashion.

Looking back at 1960, one cannot be spared the nostalgia. The epoch is now long gone, but its fashion and fads left a remarkable touch to the world, regardless if it was for the glamour, the discerning, or just about being hippy.