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Published: 2023-04-03

Fashion of the 1960s

The sixties are a socially revolutionary decade - social protest movements like the legendary '68ers emerge, Woodstock celebrates the peak of hippie culture, and conventions and traditions are generally broken. This change is also clearly reflected in the fashion world of the sixties. From now on, the street wear of the swinging London of the sixties determines the creations of the haute couture designers, the miniskirt shows a lot of bare skin and the hippies oppose the materialistic logic of exploitation.

Fashion trends of the early sixties (1960-1962)

The change of a decade does not necessarily lead to new fashion trends. At the beginning of the sixties, the ideal of elegant women's fashion, whose greatest role model was Jackie Kennedy, continued to prevail. Only gradually did new trends emerge that would prove revolutionary in the middle of the decade.

Femininity and Feminine Elegance

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is considered a style icon. Costumes with short jackets embellished with oversized buttons, worn with skirts and stilettos, exude femininity and elegance. Gloves, pearl jewelry and a matching hat complete the perfect outfit.

For an evening out, women swap the stylish pencil skirt and blazer outfit for a sparkly, slimming evening gown, often paired with a blouse. At the beginning of the decade, men prefer slim-fit suits with thin ties, as worn by Frank Sinatra or Sean Connery in James Bond.

The fifties trend continues.

Sleeveless like Audrey Hepburn

By the mid-1960s, many garments, from dresses to form-fitting shirts, lacked sleeves. The style was pioneered by Audrey Hepburn, who wore a sleeveless Givenchy dress in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Another popular garment is the "little nothing" - a simple sleeveless dress with a low-cut blouse, which can also take the form of a loose-fitting shirt.

Capri Pants - Alternative to Skirt

In the early 1960s, women's pants took off, competing with suits and skirts. Once again, it was Audrey Hepburn who spread the fame of capri pants with legs that ended at mid-calf. But other pants, such as the classic Levi Strauss jeans, are becoming more and more a part of women's everyday wardrobes. The cuts vary from tight to loose, with knee-length legs or even just above the knee. Over the course of the decade, shorts become popular.

Breakthrough of the Bikini - Hollywood Makes It Possible

Although the bikini was invented in France in 1946, it took until 1963 for the two-piece to break through in the teen movie Beach Party. The skimpy garment fits perfectly with the trend toward openness. However, it would take several more years before it spread to the beaches of the world.

Single Girl and Working Girl - Women's Independence

Books such as Sex and the Single Girl and The Feminine Mystique promote women's financial and sexual independence from the male world, which is reflected in the world of fashion. Fashion photography of the time portrays women in a completely new way: young, active and economically independent, always in motion and sporty. Parallel to the Single Girl, the counterpart of the Working Girl emerges, representing the independent woman who has full control over her own body.

Ivy League - Forerunner of the Prepper Look

Polo shirts, Harrington jackets, khaki chinos and striped shirts with sporty blazers, sweaters and knitwear characterize the style of Ivy League fashion. This sporty-conservative look of the northern U.S. college campus anticipates the prepper look.

Femininity Sleeveless Capri Pants Bikini Single Girl Ivy League

Fashion of the Mid-Sixties (1963-1966)

By 1963, the break with the conventions of previous years was gaining momentum. Fashion was much more daring, experimental, and innovative. The look of the street increasingly inspired the world of high fashion, which in turn propagated entirely new ideals of beauty.

The Space-Age Look - Futuristic Designs and Synthetic Materials

In the sixties, the race for the first moon landing during the Cold War, science fiction comics or series like Star Trek also inspired the fashion world. Synthetic materials, chunky accessories, and angular shapes characterized the space-age look. Designers such as Pierre Cardin used PVC and polyester for the first time in their creations, which could also be used in everyday life. In addition to short plastic raincoats, floor-length coats, helmet-like hats and faux fur are all the rage.

Swinging London becomes the Fashion Capital of the World

By the mid-sixties, fashion in London could no longer be ignored. The influence of the colorful, youthful look of the London fashion scene was particularly evident in men's clothing. Fashion trends had changed little in the previous 150 years, but suddenly bright colors and new elements such as collarless jackets paired with tight trousers and boots were everywhere. This influence even extended to the classic suit. These also became more colorful and sometimes even patterned, replacing the narrow ties of previous years with much wider models.

Military Jackets - Metal Buttons, Shoulder Patches, and Epaulettes

Even before hippie fashion used parkas and military jackets to protest the war in Vietnam, rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger were wearing military-inspired clothing to perform on stages around the world. The cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band featured the Beatles in colorful variations of military jackets. No wonder, then, that secondhand military apparel stores boomed toward the end of the decade.

The Mini Skirt - From King's Road to the Catwalk

Designer Mary Quant is credited with inventing the miniskirt in 1964 - although Andrè Courrèges may have been involved, and it's not clear who actually made the first miniskirt. What is certain is that the short garment made its way from London to the fashion world. By definition, the length of the skirt is about 6-7 inches above the knee. Its name comes from the Mini Cooper - Mary Quant's favorite car. While the British version is designed for the masses as the Chelsea look, Courrèges' structured and sophisticated design is more accepted by the French fashion world.

Flares and Bell Bottoms - The Trend Moves to Wide Legs

Beginning in 1964, low-rise flares with a wide leg gradually replaced the tight capri pants. Chiffon blouses or polo shirts in cotton, silk or stretch fabrics complete the outfit. For men, the trend shifts to wrinkle-free trousers in 1963, some of which are, of course, brightly patterned like the rest of the fashion.

Translucent Fabrics - Transparent and Revealing

Completely different from the previous decade, the sixties were characterized by emancipation and openness. In 1964, designer Rudi Gernreich was arrested in Chicago for wearing a topless swimsuit. It was not only the hippies who bared their breasts - sheer fabrics that revealed more than they covered also appeared in evening wear, often combined with eye-catching accessories. For those who prefer opaque fabrics but still want to show a lot of skin, there are cut-out dresses that reveal bare skin through cleverly placed openings.

The Dolly Girl - Childlike, Slim and Androgynous

In the mid-sixties, the Dolly Girl appeared, a completely new archetype for young women in the sixties. She embodies the beauty ideal of the slender and childlike woman, whose absolute ideal is Twiggy - slender, androgynous, with no waist or breasts, almost childlike.

The miniskirt is particularly characteristic in the choice of outfits, which are always combined with tight, close-fitting tops and light stockings. The A-line shape neglects curves and focuses entirely on the wearer's delicate and slender body. In addition, coats, suits and dresses often lack collars to emphasize the elongated look.

Space Age Girl Swinging London Military Jackets Mini skirt Bell-Bottom Pants Translucent Fabrics Dolly Girl

The Late 1960s (1967-1969)

By the end of the sixties, East Asian influences and the influence of hippie culture began to replace popular fashion in some areas. The trend shifted back to more casual and comfortable clothing, while androgyny continued to increase.

Nehru Jackets and Asian Influences

The waist-length coat, with its stand-up collar and patch pockets, became popular in 1966. It was designed by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's prime minister from 1947 to 1964. As one garment among many, it reflects the trend toward multiculturalism in the fashion world, where Indian, North African, or Balinese influences are increasingly style-defining. This often goes hand in hand with a move away from synthetic materials in favor of vintage clothing from the 1930s and 40s, which makes fashion even more comfortable and looser.

The Dolly Girl Grows Up

With a trend toward comfort, fashion is becoming more feminine and sensual again, with clothing hugging the figure to create a slim, straight line. Long coats over dresses, long straight cut trousers and longer skirts support this look.

Unisex Clothing – Androgyny in Everyday and Professional Life

Women's sexual liberation has far-reaching consequences for society as a whole: the fluidity of the sexes is reflected in fashion. Not only do men's and women's hairstyles become more similar, but clothing also begins to inspire each other. To the point where women are wearing men's clothes and vice versa. With YSL's pantsuit, the trend finally reaches business fashion.

Suit Fashion - Casual Look and Retro Trend

For men, a turtleneck sweater under a suit sometimes replaces a shirt and tie for a more casual look. At the same time, some men are taking inspiration from the Hollywood movies of the era, appearing in 1930s pinstripe suits and hats. All in all, suits are becoming less and less hip, giving way to an unprecedented variety of daring styling combinations.

Hippie Style - Flower Power and Batik Patterns Everywhere

From around 1967, the emergence of new rock stars, the tastes of influential youth cultures, the Vietnam War, and emancipation provided further impetus. From around 1967, a fashion culture of ponchos, moccasins, loose blouses, vests and flared trousers emerged, combined with accessories such as peace symbols, chain belts and bold necklaces. In addition to batik patterns, psychedelic patterns and floral motifs in every color imaginable were popular. Military clothing also reappeared as a sign of protest against the war.

Nehru Jackets Dolly Girl is growing up Unisex Clothing Suit Fashion Hippie Style

Beauty Trends in the Sixties

No outfit is complete without the right shoes, makeup and carefully chosen accessories. Like fashion, popular beauty trends changed drastically in the sixties.

Hair - Natural Short Hair Styles and Styled Beehives

Women's hairstyles in the sixties are very diverse. From the extravagant beehive hairstyles of the early sixties and simple updos hidden under a hat, to modern short haircuts in the style of Twiggy or Mia Farrow, to the long hair of the hippie movement and simple side cuts, the decade offers plenty of variety. Styling often requires a lot of hairspray. Hair that is too curly is artificially straightened, and fringe often reaches the eyebrows.

For men over 25, the neat side parting with short side and back hair is the norm, while older workers wear a strict crew cut with very short sides. Teenagers are more subculture influenced. They use pomade to shape the back of their hair into a ducktail or are inspired by the bop hairstyles of the Mods, which grow longer and longer as the decade progresses, culminating in the long hippie hairstyles of the late sixties. At the same time, beards became increasingly popular. African Americans, on the other hand, began to wear the so-called "Afro" not only for fashion reasons, but also to express pride in their roots.

Make-up - Natural Subtle Look

At the beginning of the sixties, false eyelashes, bright red lips and exaggerated make-up were all the rage. From 1963, however, there was a shift to a more natural look, with neat, short haircuts and flat shoes. The delicate and feminine look is manifested in pale and subtle colors that remain fashionable until the end of the decade.

Jewelry and Accessories - More is More

In the early sixties, classic hats were popular with suits, but they soon disappeared from everyday life when Nixon and Kennedy appeared in public without hats. From then on, young men wore bandanas or simple caps. The same was true for women's fashion: while hats were often paired with furs at the beginning of the decade, they soon disappeared from the street scene.

Scarves are also in vogue, in bright colors with large patterns that not only adorn the wearer's neck, but often appear as headwear as well. In 1964, Coco Chanel also brought back the headband.

Belts worn conspicuously over the dress are often made of chains. The gold and silver metal rings always give even wool outfits a youthful and fashionable look.

In keeping with the space age, sunglasses take on enormous proportions and are often oversized. Toward the end of the decade, accessories made of nails, chains, brass buttons, or clips are also in vogue to complete the futuristic outfit. This goes so far that the accessories overshadow the entire outfit.

Hippies don't skimp on accessories and jewelry either. Opulent, multi-layered necklaces with large pendants made of natural materials such as feathers or stones dominate.

Shoes - Flat Heels for Almost Every Occasion

Since the beginning of the decade, simple shoes with flat heels have been very popular. Higher heels were only worn for evening dresses, but not necessarily. In the mid-sixties, shoes with rounded toes and straps (the so-called Mary Janes) became increasingly popular. In addition to simple sandals, go-go boots are very trendy. The knee-high white boots with flat heels were introduced by André Courrèges in 1964. From 1967, lacquer or vinyl boots reaching up to the knee or even the thigh became increasingly popular in the fashion world.

It is not only in the British world of rock 'n' roll that the so-called winklepickers with their extremely long, pointed toe caps, which are often complemented by buckles or other striking applications, have become popular. In the hippie culture, sandals, moccasins or simply no shoes are worn, while sporty people are discovering sneakers like the Converse All Stars.

Fashion Icons of the Sixties

As prosperity increases, so does the prevalence of television in the home, and the consumption of music and movies. For the first time in history, young people in particular are forming their own youth cultures, led by idols such as Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. These, in turn, have a significant influence on the fashion of the time.

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The most popular designers of the Sixties

In the sixties, the youth of the street inspired the fashion houses of haute couture. The Swinging Sixties, characterized by optimism and hedonism, saw the opening of numerous boutiques, especially in London, that offered ready-to-wear fashion for a wide range of people, and gave rise to trends such as the Mods, the Hippies and the Space Age look. The influence of this "youthquake" movement did not go unnoticed by internationally successful designers, so that the catwalk creations of the time were often influenced by the look of the street.

Andrè Courrèges - Go-Go Boots and Space Age

The French designer is known for his futuristic designs and the use of synthetic materials for his fashion creations. He is not only known for the go-go boots, but also for numerous space-age designs such as trouser suits or box-shaped dresses.

Yves Saint Laurent - Emancipation of women's business fashion

The designer with the initials YSL not only set fashion trends in the sixties with the safari look, thigh-high boots and tight trousers. With "Le Smoking", the first pantsuit for women, Laurent perfectly captured the spirit of the times and made a decisive contribution to the emancipation of business fashion.

Pierre Cardin - not street-wear

Pierre Cardin is also one of the most influential designers of the space-age look. Helmets, short tunics and ski goggles were among his avant-garde creations. Although his collections on the catwalk are too avant-garde for everyday wear on the street, his turtlenecks and sophisticated zipper creations set several fashion trends of the time.

Mary Quant - Mini Skirts and Hot Pants

The British designer is one of the central figures of the British Mod scene. She opened her first boutique, Bazaar, on London's King's Road in 1955. This new type of clothing store offered the young, fashion-conscious target group a completely new shopping experience between expensive designer stores and classic department stores. But it was the miniskirt and the hot pants that made Quandt world famous - although it is still debated whether other designers were more influential. Her influence on the Swinging London of the sixties is undeniable.

Paco Rabanne - Enfant Terrible of the Fashion World

The Spaniard is considered the enfant terrible of the sixties fashion world. Since 1966, the designer, who has worked for renowned fashion houses such as Givenchy and Dior, has used unconventional materials such as plastic and metal in his fashion designs, from which the collection "Manifesto: 12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials. With the costume for Jane Fonda's role in Barbarella (1968), Rabanne managed to make it to Hollywood as a young designer.

Hubert de Givenchy - Classically Elegant Women's Fashion

The elegant costumes worn by Jackie Kennedy and the black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) have one thing in common: they all bear the signature of Hubert de Givenchy. The French designer dressed the fashion icons of the time, especially at the beginning of the decade, with elegant, feminine dresses and costumes that served as role models for millions of women around the world.

Sixties Fashion Styles

Subcultures and youth cultures have always shaped the look of the streets and set global fashion trends. In the sixties, the mods were everywhere. But surfers and skinheads also influenced the public image.

Mods - From London to the World

The Mods - short for Modernists - developed their own youth culture, which gave rise to bands like The Who and The Beatles. They were an international counterpart to the rockers of 1964. Typical clothing includes suits worn over a tight shirt and under a parka while riding a Vespa. Pants are usually tight, with Levi's being the only serious jeans in the scene. Women wear very short miniskirts, brightly colored go-go boots, and solid geometric patterns with tight-fitting sleeveless tunics.

The Peacock Revolution - Dandies Follow the Mods

Starting around 1968, the so-called Peacock Revolution replaced the fashion of the Mods with its opulent Victorian and Edwardian style elements and references to the Belle Epoque. The trendsetters of the time are called Dandies, Dudes or Peacocks with their ruffled shirts, appearing in outlandish suit creations, wide ties and leather shoes.

Surf Culture

Between 1962 and 1966, surf culture reached its peak. US fashion was characterized by its pragmatism - cheap, functional and durable. The Pendleton jacket, originally popular with lumberjacks and hunters, became a fashion success in the world of female surfers before the first investors discovered the scene, setting fashion accents with their lifestyle and allowing elements of Tiki culture to flow into commercially oriented surf fashion.

Skinheads - Expression of the British Working Class

Skinheads originated in the British working class. In addition to very short, unshaved hair, Dr. Martens work shoes, suspenders, straight-cut jeans, and shirts with button-down collars are characteristic of their style. But Harrington jackets or bomber jackets, wool coats or parkas are also part of the skinhead's wardrobe. Rejecting both the hippies and the middle-class bourgeoisie, the skinheads formed their own subculture, initially often influenced by the Jamaican rude boys. This was accompanied by a preference for ska and soul. In the seventies, however, there were closer ties to punk and Oi! before the scene became increasingly politicized and divided in the eighties.


In the sixties, youth street styles complement the elegant fashions of the previous decade, before the hippie movement shakes up the fashion world in the second half of the decade. For the first time in history, youth and subcultures, under the influence of rock and pop stars, create their own fashion styles, which spread to the catwalks of haute couture and are made available to the young, fashion-conscious target group at affordable prices through boutiques. Not only the miniskirt, but also new materials such as PVC, polyester or metal shape the futuristic creations of the great fashion designers and shift the focus from the formative designer fashion to the creative power of the consumer.


1960s in fashion (Wikipedia) Youthquake movement (Wikipedia) fitnyc.edu 1960-1969 V&M theVOU Vintage Dancer retrowaste gofeminin InStyle
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