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The Fashion Revolution of the 1960s

CEO Tinh Phung
Swinging London fashions on Carnaby Street, 1966. The National Archives (United Kingdom). The 1960s were a decade of radical change in the world of fashion. As an era that broke many traditional fashion norms, the...

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

The 1960s were a decade of radical change in the world of fashion. As an era that broke many traditional fashion norms, the 60s saw the rise of new cultures and social movements. This revolution in fashion was fueled by small pockets of young people in urban centers who garnered significant media attention, influencing both haute couture and mass-market fashion.

The Mini Skirt and Beyond

One of the iconic fashion trends of the 1960s was the mini skirt, popularized by designer Mary Quant. This trend challenged the traditional notion of modesty and became a symbol of liberation for women. Alongside the mini skirt, other influential trends included culottes, go-go boots, and experimental fashions made from PVC.

US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Venezuela US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrives in Venezuela, 1961.

The influence of the 1960s fashion extended beyond the streets of London. In the early-to-mid 60s, London "Modernists" known as Mods influenced men's fashion in Britain. Meanwhile, the hippie movement had a profound impact on women's clothing, with bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye fabrics, and paisley prints becoming popular.

Women's Fashion in the 1960s

Early 1960s (1960-1962)

In the early 1960s, fashion was heavily influenced by the elegance of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Women embraced tailored skirts, stiletto heel shoes, and suits with short boxy jackets. Simple geometric dresses known as shifts and full-skirted evening dresses were also in style. Capri trousers became a popular casual wear option for women and girls.

The era also witnessed the rise of women wearing trousers. Previously seen as masculine, trousers became acceptable for women to wear daily. Levi Strauss jeans and "stretch" drainpipe jeans became popular choices, showcasing women's equality to men.

Mid 1960s (1963-1966)

During the mid-1960s, the bikini, originally invented in 1946, gained mainstream acceptance. It became a pop-culture symbol through films like "Beach Party" and the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

German girl wearing a miniskirt in Greece German girl wearing a miniskirt in Greece, 1962.

The monokini, designed by Rudi Gernreich in 1964, introduced the concept of a topless swimsuit for women. This design became a symbol of the sexual revolution and women's liberation movement.

Space age fashion, influenced by the Space Race and science fiction, also emerged during this period. Box shapes, thigh-length hemlines, and synthetic materials like polyester and PVC became popular. Metallic silver and fluorescent colors dominated the fashion scene.

Men's Fashion in the 1960s

Early 1960s (1960-1962)

Slim-fitting single-breasted suits and skinny ties were fashionable for professional men during this period. Tuxedos with shawl collars and one-button closures also gained popularity. Hats like the pork pie and Irish hat featured narrower brims than the previous decade.

The Ivy League fashion, precursor to the preppy look, influenced middle-class adults' casual wear. Polo shirts, harrington jackets, khaki chino pants, and striped T-shirts were among the favored items.

Mid 1960s (1963-1966)

Surf rock music, popularized by bands like The Beach Boys, influenced men's fashion during the mid-1960s. Pendleton jackets, with their warmth and durability, became common choices. The surf jacket style expanded the boundaries of pop-cultural fashion, combining a relaxed and cool vibe.

Additionally, the mod subculture, influenced by British bands like The Who and The Beatles, popularized short, clean haircuts and tailored suits. Mop-top hairstyles became a trend among white and Hispanic men.

Late 1960s (1967-1969)

The late 1960s witnessed the emergence of the hippie counterculture and the peacock revolution. Hippies embraced long hair, tie dye, and flower power motifs. The peacock revolution, on the other hand, saw men wearing Victorian and Edwardian-inspired styles, often incorporating crushed velvet and brocade fabrics.

Facial hair, including mustaches, goatees, and beards, became popular among young men at this time. Men's hats were replaced by bandanas, digger hats, and Stetsons.

Hairstyles of the 1960s

The Ronettes with their signature beehive hairstyles The Ronettes with their signature beehive hairstyles.

Women's hairstyles evolved throughout the decade, ranging from beehive hairdos to short, androgynous styles popularized by fashion icons like Twiggy and Mia Farrow. The pillbox hat, made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy, was another prominent style choice.

Men's hairstyles varied from side-parted short back and sides to mop-top styles inspired by bands like the Beatles. The Afro hairstyle gained popularity among African Americans as a symbol of racial pride.

The Legacy of the 1960s Fashion Revolution

The fashion revolution of the 1960s challenged societal norms and paved the way for greater freedom of self-expression. From the mini skirt to the Hippie counterculture, these trends influenced fashion for years to come.

1960s Fashion A selection of images representing 1960s fashion trends.

The 1960s will forever be remembered as an iconic era in fashion history, characterized by its bold experimentation, rejection of traditional gender roles, and a celebration of individuality and self-expression.

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