In 1960s fashion was bi-polar in about every way. The early 60s were more reminiscent of the 1950s — conservative and restrained; certainly more classic in style and design. The late 1960s were the exact opposite. Bright, swirling colors, Psychedelic, tie-dye shirts and long hair and beards were common place. Woman wore unbelievably short skirts and men wore tunics and capes. The foray into fantasy would not have been believed by people just a decade earlier.
It’s almost like the 1950s bottled everyone up so much that the late 1960s exploded like an old pressure cooker. Women were showing more skin than ever before.
For the first time in the 19th Century, London, not Paris, was the center of the fashion world. The British Invasion didn’t stop with The Beatles. It swept into all parts of life, especially clothing.
But actually, lost in the two extremes is the mid-60s, which I think actually had the coolest style, albeit more subtle. I love the long, slender shapes, the bright colors and the young, London look.
The 1960s had featured a number of diverse trends. It was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the time. In the middle of the decade, culottes, go-go boots, box-shaped PVC dresses and other PVC clothes were very popular… The widely popular bikini came into fashion in 1963 after being featured in the musical Beach Party.
Mary Quant popularised the mini skirt, and Jackie Kennedy introduced the pillbox hat both becoming extremely popular. False eyelashes were worn by women throughout the 1960s, and their hairstyles were a variety of lengths and styles. People were dressing in psychedelic prints, highlighter colors, and mismatched patterns. The hippie movement late in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies’ clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye, and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.
Top 7 Fashion Designers of the 60s
Founded by Barbara Hulanicki, in the 1960s, Biba lines was aimed at teenagers mostly, and consisted of what we may refer to as today’s high street fashion. Her colour palette was “muddied colours of brown, sepia, grey and plum” . . . dark but rich. Biba’s “swinging London look” was affordable couture recreations and includes the following styles:
Long tight sleeves
Gingham print dresses
Triangular head scarves
Today, if you find an authentic Biba dress, it may sell for as much as $1000
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery celebrates BIBA
Though he rose to fame in the 50’s Givenchy’s fashion creations and elegant styles still reverberate in today’s scene. This fashion designer’s creations were so refined that it helped to define the 1960s refined style of the chic and sophisticated dressing of movie stars. We all remember the elegant Audrey Hepburn . . . She was mostly dressed in Givenchy’s clothing whether on or off screen.
His famed designs include:
Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
3. André Courrèges
Courrèges was a French fashion designer who made his ‘debut’ in the Parisian fashion world of the 1960s with his futuristic, youthful but “high fashion label”.
60’s Space age fashion designs – Andre Courrèges
His fashion creations include:
Triangle shaped shift dress that was THE defining silhouette of the 1960s
Well cut pants
White mid-calf boots
Vinyl trimmed coats and suits
Cigarette pant suit
It is claimed that he is the designer that created the mini skirt. Authentic Courrèges pricey high fashion creations is difficult to find today, but cheaper copies of his works may be found if you can ‘wade’ through vintage clothing hunts.
4. Pierre Cardin
The originator of the fifties’ bubble dresses, Pierre Cardin is a very famous 60s fashion designer who created innovative, contemporary designs that bordered on the unusual and futuristic.
He it was that embraced the use of hammered metal jewelry, industrial zippers, and plastics in his creations. His famous styles include:
Thigh high boots
Bright coloured mini shift dresses
The unisex cosmos suit
Skinny double-breasted suits
5. Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent, an influential fashion designer from Algeria, has had a great impact on the European fashion industry right from the early 60s till date, and it’s not uncommon to find that celebrities and models still gush over his designs even though he passed on from brain cancer in 2008. YSL contributed to many of the sixties fashion trends, with some of his most popular clothing being:
Mondrian shift dress
Women smoking jackets
6. Emilio Pucci
This list will be incomplete without the mention of Pucci, “The Prince of Print” whose designs was mostly recognized for his trademark “psychedelic look” – electric colours, bold geometric prints, and ‘clean’ racy cuts. Emilio Pucci 1960’s – “Prince of prints”
Pucci contributed to the ’60s trends like no other. Fashionable women and important personalities Jackie Kennedy and Sophia Loren wore his styles and a great fan of his clothing line, Marilyn Monroe, was even buried in one of his clothes.
His popular designs include:
Palazzo pant suits
Body hugging mini-skirts
Silk jersey clothing
Psychedelic op art tights – a form of printed leggings
Cropped Capri pants
Space age inspired air hostess uniforms
7. Mary Quant
No, Mary Quant didn’t invent the “mini” as many vintage fashion enthusiasts tend to believe. Rather, she gave the style its name by popularising it in the 60s! Many of us have the Quant look ’embedded’ in our minds . . . the silhouette ensconced in a mini skirt or a mini shift dress; patent boots, coloured opaque tights, a bob style haircut, prominent and dark eye makeup and false lashes. To replicate the Mary Quant look today is a breeze and you’ll find a good number of fashionistas adopting the 1960’s “quintessential” Mary Quant style. Her designs were pricey and many a woman found them unaffordable. Nonetheless, she was regarded as one of “London’s swinging” group.
Her designs include the following:
Boots with detachable tops
Mix and match separates
Dresses/Skirts with matching colourful tights
Finding an original Mary Quant outfit outside of the UK would be like searching for a needle in the haystack, but replication can be achieved by looking out for the right pieces to create the perfect ensemble.
In the early-to-mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade.
Designers were producing clothing more suitable for young adults, which led to an increase in interest and sales. These designs marked a revolution and set a trend. Would you like to try out a few outfits from the 60s?
Let us know which one and why?
Let us know which one and why?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Priyankur Sengupta is a passionate designer in the making. He also loves to cook & is a foodie. Travelling and styling are his keen interests. He is also a core team member of ExPress Magazine.