Fashion in the 1960s : Most important styles and influences

The different aspects of the decade 1960s that shaped the fashion sensibilities of the period including the fashion styles and movements

From the historical point of view, the 1960s was a period when the Vietnam war happened, the Cold war was full-on, John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, Beatles became the international crush of millions of youth all around the world.

If ever there was a time with lots of changes and activities across all sections of the society, be it political, cultural, social, or lifestyle, it was the 1960’s. The fashion of the times reflected these fluctuations. Many different styles emerged, disappeared, co-existed during this decade.

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The 7 main fashion influences in the 1960s

Young adult fashion

The mature fashion of the 1950s gave way to the influence of the youth. This had already started by the late 1950s but by the 1960s it was in full swing. The rebellious and restless youth of the generation gained their importance in all aspects of life during this period. They decided to express their protests against the ways of society in many ways. The opinions of the youth regarding the political-cultural aspects of society had a huge impact on all walks of life.

Fashion catered to the tastes of the youth and they wanted more options in street styles. Ready-to-wear clothing gained its stronghold. Younger girls favored short clothes that proclaimed their freedom of thought and action.

Celebrities, Designers and models of 1960s

First Lady of America, Jacquiline Kennedy was a trendsetter in fashion. Her classy fashion style was copied by women. She popularised bouffant hairstyle, Shift dresses, skirt suits, extra large sunglasses and Pillbox hats. She can be said to be responsible for the fur craze in the 1960s. 

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Models became as famous as the designers who dressed them. British Models Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton became icons. Jean Shrimpton revolutionized the fashion scene with her appearance in a Mini skirt. Twiggy ( Lesley Lawson ) was the “face of 1966” and one of the most famous faces of the decade. She was also called the “Queen of Mod”

Haute Couture took backstage during this period. Even the top fashion designers made clothes keeping the mass market in mind. Mary Quaint popularised Mini skirt and jumper dress.

André Courrèges popularised Go Go boots. He started the trend for Space Age fashion with his space age fashion show in Paris. 

The American designer Norman Norell introduced Culottes. Sighsten Herrgard, Roberto Capucci were other famous designers of the period

Fashion in the movies

Movies are a reflection of life. They can also serve as a pioneer for many things in society. Costumes in the movies add to the story and convey important elements of the director’s vision. Till the previous decade films depicted costumes that were more suited to the upper-class society but this changed in the 1960s. The costumes started to represent the larger society of the period.

Costumes of the characters in the movies of acclaimed directors Federico Fellini, John Schlesinger, Blake Edwards, Ingrid Bergman, Andy Warhol in popular movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Psycho influenced public opinion about fashion. Marcella de Marchi was a popular costume designer of the period.

American Actress Sophia Loren was greatly admired for her fashion style. Sean Connery as James Bond also was a trendsetter.

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Gender-neutral fashion (Unisex)

The sexual liberation of women during this period turned the status quo of society in its head. Conventional beliefs about gender were challenged. The feminist movement gained a great deal of popularity.

Fluidity in gender identity can be seen a lot in the fashion styles of this period. Women wore clothing inspired by men’s fashion. Men preferred long hair challenging the masculine norms; much of their clothes were very colorful and almost androgynous.

Related post: Androgynous fashion style.

Music-influenced fashion

Music bands like the Beatles had a massive following among the youth. The 4 members of the band Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Geroge, and Ringo commanded adulation to the point of mania. The Beatle suit (a tailored suit) was a hit after their movie “A Hard day’s night was released. Their  mop-top hairstyle, boots with Cuban heels, skinny ties were all very popular and emulated.
Other influencers were Rolling Stones and other Rock n roll bands. Rock and roll music was very popular and it was inevitable that the styles of the musicians would influence the public.

Hippie fashion

This bohemian style was more popular in the late 1960s. Relaxed clothes are the mainstay of this fashion. The hippies wore bell-bottom pants, loose waistless tops or shirts, long skirts, and bandanas. Paisley prints and Tie and dye were a staple in these clothes. The long straight hair style was sported by both men and women in this style.

Beach fashion in the 1960s

The Beach bikini movie series of this period starring Frankie Avlon, the American teen idol and Annette Funicello were a sensation during this decade – the Beach Party film series increased interest in surf fashion. Bikinis and surf t-shirts were very popular among the youth, during the early part of the decade due to the popularity of these movies. 

You can find many pictures of clothes of this period in this Pinterest board.

References : Fur craze due to Jacqueline kennedy ;Rolling stones as fashion icons

Read more on 1960s fashion – Victoria and Albert Museum website article. Book – Film, Fashion, and the 1960s By Stella Bruzzi, Pamela Church Gibson and Marilyn A. Cohen 

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Related posts : What is Vintage fashion; Evolution of the history of fashion; 1920’s styles and fashion; 1930’s fashion; 1950’s clothing styles; 1960’s outfits;Fashion and clothing in the 1970s; 1980’s clothes and fashion; 1990’s -what women wore; 2000’s clothing and fashion ; fashion & stylesthat are popular today ; Fashion subcultures; Fashion design vocabulary; Books to learn more about vintage fashion.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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