The 1960s often feels like a counterpart to what the 1920s were to the first 20 years of the 20th century. Corsets, body defying clothes and heavy fabrics were changed in favor of simple silhouettes, functional clothes and a fashion that eased the position of women. The past sentence is as applicable for the 1920s as it is for the 1960s. 40 years later and the liberation of women through clothes happened – again. Here’s the fashion history: 1960-1970.
The Society during 1960 – 1970
In a lot of ways, the society of the 1960s continued on the same path of the 1950s. The technology kept on improving, so did the Civil Rights Movement and the life of adults and teenagers became more distinct. The 1960s were in many ways a decade of fear of WWIII but also 10 years of growing culture and major improvements for mankind. The obsession with space influenced the fashion heavily. So did also London, the music scene and icons such as Twiggy, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin.
As the decade moved along, the focus on war would shift to politics in matter of equality as well as the environment. The hippie movement would emerged from the 1960s with the music festival in Woodstock 69’ being a major influence.
Style of the 1960 – 1970
If there’s only one thing to thank the 1960s for – it’s the length of the skirts and dresses. Never in history had the length of women’s skirts been shorter. Women were not only allowed to show their calves but also their thighs during the decade. The miniskirt would be an important style feature for women’s liberalisation as they could move freely in the clothing piece and also show skin without being sexualized. The short length, in combination with the vibrant prints and colors, created a youthful and optimistic style vibe. The short skirts, tight tops and makeup of Twiggy was mainly a style for the young adults and the liberated fashion would indicate of the more progressive views of the new generation. Twiggy in specific would be a leading style icon as she embraced a boyish silhouette which contrasted the heavy curves of the 1950s. Some people blame the skinny ideal of the 1960s for starting “the skinny model” debate.
As for the adults, the style remained quite ladylike with sets of pencil skirts and blazers being a look for the office. The silhouette shifted from A-line to body defined with a small belt marking the waist. The colors and prints differed somewhat depending on what style you embraced. The ladylike office style (think Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, Mad Men) was kind of colorful but remained refined in the style and heavily elegant. The youthful A-line style was both colorful and energetic with a lot of vibrant prints being matched. This style was connected to Carnaby Street and London, which put London in center as the fashion capital. It was all about the Mod style.
Another fashion that was embraced was the one of the Space Age. The clothes were minimalistic, functional and were often white or silver metallic. The fashion, led by André Courrèges, was inspired by space and looked quite futuristic and emotionless.
The clothes between 1960 – 1970
Which designer that should have the cred for the invention of the miniskirt? Some say it’s Mary Quant and others that its André Courrèges: I say it’s both. Nevertheless would the clothing piece be an important symbol for feminism and women’s rights with its short length and liberal style. The skirt would be embraced by Twiggy and become a popular go-to piece for teenagers. Another important piece, the shift dress, would grow into becoming a defining piece of the decade. No wonder as they were comfortable, existed in different colors and prints, and left room for food babies!
The miniskirts were worn with sweaters, cardigans or matching tops. Especially the long sleeved sweaters (sometimes with a turtleneck) would be a popular piece to wear under dresses and cardigans. Often in a contrasting color or print of the dress. The prints were often stripes, floral, geometric or optic print. Black and white became a popular color combination to work in prints and worked excellently with the bright orange, pink and pea green shades that were trending.
As for the lady style, Chanel influenced the fashion. Her tweed jackets and matching skirts would define the decade and were loved by the ultimate style icon, Jackie O. The lady style mainly consisted of knee long dresses and coats that often were matching. The details were often buttons and the main focus remained on the shape of the coats. The coats were a brilliant extension of the early coats of the 1950s (last pic in this post). They were one of the most important pieces of the decade and worked for both the youths and adults. Also sweet pastels and bright colors (see left) were popular.
Beauty between 1960 – 1970
The beauty of the 1960s is still beloved today. The decade was kind of the first decade where people experimented with makeup, but still kept it wearable. Even though the makeup of the 18th century was more extravagant, it’s not something we can relate to today. However, the 1960s makeup is relatable in terms of heavy eyeliner, big lashes and a play of bright eyeshadows and lines. Twiggy’s iconic makeup look was leading with the doe eyes and heavy eyemakeup. The lips were often peachy in the shade and white, bright blue and other pastels were popular as eyeshadows. Heavy lashes and eyeliner(s) remained in focus though.
As for the hair, well, similar to the 1920s when women cut the hair short: some women embraced a pixie cut during this decade (like Twiggy, again). The pixie cut worked well with the masculine ideal that grew popular (sans curves, straight silhouette etc). If you didn’t work the pixie style, your hair should only have one focus: be voluminous. Brigitte Bardot was leading in this hairdo with her iconic beauty look (see slideshow below). The fringe would be framing the face while the rest of the hair would be voluminous and bun-shaped. The name of a popular hairstyle? Bouffant. Another popular hairstyle? Beehive. We obviously need these names back in style (hairstyles too, lol).
Spotlight of 1960 – 1970: YSL
As talked about in last week’s 1950s post, YSL would define this decade through his powerful position in the fashion world. When he had conquered and convinced the fashion people with his designs at Dior, he moved on to have his own brand. Through his own-named label he would create iconic looks such as The Mondrian Dress (see left) and Le Smoking (a female version of a tuxedo). YSL kept on playing with the classic definition of womenswear and menswear by exceeding the previous lines. He gave women a simple silhouette, translated men’s clothes to women’s bodies and would continue on to set the tone for the decade. He mixed elegance with energy and wearability.
Transition to the 1970s
The later years of the 1960s would raise awareness of the gender gaps and injustice of the world. This would reflect the clothes as women’s fashion and men’s fashion would grow closer than before (naah, they were pretty similar during the 17th century tbh). But a unisex fashion would emerge, where women and men would wear the same, if not similar clothes. Both regarding style, colors and prints. The overall would be an important piece and the fashion of the bohemians was more or less same for women and men. As the 1970s arrived, the fashion had gone from strict, geometric and straight silhouettes to flowy fabrics, flower power, and a reflection of nature and earth. Pucci was an important designer for the transition, so was also YSL, Mary Quant and Guy Laroche.
And that’s a wrap on the fashion history: 1960-1970. Next week I’ll go powerful as in flower power, more unisex fashion and a mix of nature and disco! Oh btw, if anyone is wondering (giving the image below), I’m still madly obsessed with the coats of the late 1950s and 1960s. Like hello, give me them puhlease.