Fashion is an art. As with all art that is not contemporary, it is the art of our time, but was done in previous eras and we want to understand is closely linked to societies.
That is why it is important that when we want to know the fashion trends of the 60s, we need to know the society of the 60s. We need to know what events shaped the decade. This will also help us understand why art and fashion were shaped.
That’s why we began our look at fashion in the 1960s by reviewing the key events of the period.
The late 1950s saw the rebuilding of Europe after the war. Thus, the 1960s saw the beginning of an economic boom. Western Europe saw the development of the working class. Radio, television, refrigerators and cars were commodities that working class people now had access to. A newly defined middle class was emerging.
The United States had three presidents in this decade. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Cold War dominated the decade. In the United States and in Western countries, the 1960s are known as the decade of countercultures.
There was a revolution against social norms. Young people rebelled for civil rights and against the requirements of military service and formed countercultures. There are many who interpret the decade as an irresponsible excess that led to the decline of social order and the loosening of taboos.
The 1960s are known as the ‘Age of Africa’. In that year, 17 African nations became independent. Global attention was thus focused on the continent. The world population in that year was 3 021 475 000.
On 6 March, the United States announces that 3,500 US troops will be sent to Vietnam.
At the Oscars, Ben-Hur sets a record for the number of Academy statuettes won, including the Best Picture award on 4 April.
On 11 March, in Buenos Aires, four Mossad agents kidnap escaped Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to take him to Israel to stand trial. This event is important because it is the trial that will inform the world of the horrors of the Holocaust that took place during the Second World War.
The Soviet Union will launch the Sputnik 4 satellite into orbit. The first Sputnik was launched on 4 October 1957. It was the beginning of a new space age. One of the biggest chapters of the Cold War on 15 May.
On November 8, the United States elects Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy as the next President of the United States.
The fashion of the 1960s is best remembered as a decade of experimentation. However, at the beginning of the decade, this was not yet the case. During the 1960s, classic dressing was in fashion.
Fashion designers came up with collections inspired by classical, contemporary architecture and sculpture. The collections harked back to the 1920s and 1930s.
Round hats and high, voluminous clothing with wide sleeves were the hallmarks of women’s fashion. Culottes, split skirts and trouser skirts were introduced for travel and home dresses.
This year, skirts were a little shorter than usual. The designers have given an intense display of opulence. Brocades, gold lace and metallic brocades with Renaissance patterns adorned the dresses.
Deep and dark colours were in fashion, such as purple, red and green. Neon bright pinks were also very popular. All hat shops sold evening gowns, which were very popular.
President Eisenhower announces on January 3 that the United States will sever diplomatic relations with Cuba. On 17 January, in his last speech, he warns of the growing power of the military-industrial complex. President Kennedy is sworn in as the 35th President of the United States on 20 January.
On March 11, the Ken doll is unveiled in the United States.
Alan Shepard becomes the first American to walk in space, as part of the Mercury program on 5 May.
The Soviet object Venera 1 passes Venus, becoming the first probe to fly past another planet on 19 May.
President Kennedy announces to a special joint session of Congress his goal of sending a man to the Moon and returning him safely before the end of the decade on May 25.
Construction begins on the Berlin Wall between East Berlin and West Berlin on 13 August.
The film West Side Story is shown On 18 October.
The French luxury fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent is launched on 14 November.
In 1961, the costumes took centre stage. The fashionable woman likes to appear inexpensive, but simply tailored evening dresses. Straighter broader shoulders replaced oval shoulders.
Many designers created complete outfits. Not only the dresses, but also the matching shoes and hats. Some designers even made a make-up plan for the mannequin.
The skirts were suddenly short, down to the knees. At the end of the year, only the very young wore such skirts. The styles of Princess Margaret, Jacqueline Kennedy and Brigitte Bardot were imitated by all ages.
On 14 February, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gives television viewers a tour of the White House.
West Side Story wins the Academy Award for Best Picture on 8 April.
On 5 August, Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her Los Angeles home.
Bob Dylan premieres his song ” A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall ” at Carnegie Hall in New York on 22 September.
The film Dr. No premieres, the first James Bond film. Sean Connery plays the lead role on 5 October.
The Cuban Missile Crisis opens. It will end on October 28, when Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that he has ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba on 14 October.
On 3 November, John Mauchly uses the word personal computer for the first time in the columns of The New York Times.
That year saw a major change in fashion. The silhouette of clothes became more form-fitting. The shoulders widened and great attention was paid to the bosom.
Evening wear was complemented by a matching coat. The clothes of the 1930s are back in fashion. This was partly due to the revival of old films on television. The dress worn by Audrey Hepburn, designed by Hubert de Givenchy for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, brought the sleeveless high waist dress into fashion.
Elizabeth Taylor’s costumes were designed by Irene Sharaff for Cleopatra. Jackie Kennedy became a fashion icon. Her demure High-Waisted coats, sleek evening gowns, berets, hats and jewellery were constantly in the spotlight.
On 8 April, Lawrence of Arabia won Best Picture at the Oscars.
President Kennedy’s “Ich bin EIN Berliner” speech was delivered on 26 June.
On 28 August, Martin Luther King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas on 22 November.
Knee-length skirts, sleeveless dresses, low-heeled shoes and close-cropped, natural hair became part of the young look. The trend swept through the fashion world like a tsunami. Lots of make-up and high heels became a masterstroke.
In men’s fashion, pleated trousers appeared and became widely accepted. Stripes appeared on sports jackets, as well as on sweaters and shirts.
The reappearance of capes is associated with Norman Norell and Cristobal Balenciaga. Yves Saint Laurent’s fishing jackets became fashionable all over the world.
On 18 January, plans for the construction of the New York City World Trade Center are announced.
The Beatles hit number one on the US singles chart for the first time on 1 February.
On March 9, the US Supreme Court rules that speech critical of political figures cannot be censored under the First Amendment.
15 March Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are married in Montreal.
On May 12, twelve young men in New York City publicly burn their deck of cards. The first protest against the Vietnam War.
S plunging necklines first appeared in the Paris spring collections. In America, designer Rudi Gemreich designed a semi-nude swimsuit. Clothes manufacturers made translucent evening dresses. Nudity spread throughout the world.
It sparked a huge controversy. Coco Chanel reintroduced the hair bow.
For men, the emphasis was on a youthful look. The suits became lighter in colour. Sports jackets became shorter. The shirts had a wider stripe.
On 30 January, the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.
My Fair Lady wins 8 Academy Awards on 5 April.
On May 5, Forty men burn their deck of cards at the University of California, Berkeley.
The US space probe Mariner 4 flies past Mars. The first spacecraft to send back images of Mars on 14 July.
On August 15, the world’s first stadium concert by the Beatles is performed in front of 55,600 people at Shea Stadium in New York City.
That year, a fashion revolution breaks out in London. For the first time, the British fashion invasion reached New York. Then came Op Art and opened up a whole new world of dressing.
Op Art decorated women’s clothes with stripes, checks and wavy lines. The intersecting stripes were geometrically structured.
Women wore low, hip-hugging trousers combined with a poor boy’s sweater. Balenciaga designed a bare-shouldered dress that started another fad.
Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress was a huge success.
On May 16 in New York, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his first public speech on the Vietnam War.
Surveyor 1 lands on the Moon, the first American vehicle to land on another world on June 2.
On 13 June, the US Supreme Court rules that police must inform suspects of their rights before questioning them.
The NBC network premieres the Star Trek series on 8 September.
This is the year the rebellion against tradition began. The mod look focused on miniskirts, nice tights, low-heeled shoes and masculine jackets. Accessories such as over-the-shoulder handbags and flashy jewellery came into fashion.
Men wore wide belts, tight, body-hugging trousers, extra wide and flashy ties to take on the style.
Young people rebelling against traditional dress and conservative ways wore boots, waistcoats and London caps. Young Americans fell in love with the exotic and unusual image. They began to use the style to distinguish themselves from the adult generation.
Women borrowed suits from men. They wore pantsuits. The trouser suit became an accepted part of fashion.
Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu were married in Las Vegas on May 1.
On 12 May, Jimi Hendrix releases his debut album.
400 million viewers watch Our World, the first live, international satellite television production. The Beatles’ ” All You Need Is Love ” makes its live debut on 25 June.
On 4 July, the British Parliament decriminalises homosexuality.
Pink Floyd release their debut album on 5 August.
On 21 October, some 70 000 Vietnam war protesters march in Washington DC.
NASA launches the first Saturn V rocket, which successfully transports the Apollo 4 test spacecraft from Cape Kennedy to orbit around the Earth on 9 November.
11 December The Concorde supersonic airliner is unveiled in Toulouse, France.
This year, fashion was all about la-la-la. Skirts were shortened above the knee. High boots became a fashionable way to cover up the legs. The fashion world discovered the Twiggy fashion model. She was on the cover of every magazine.
In men’s fashion, turtleneck sweaters became an important trend. The wearing of this was abandoned. The turtleneck under the dinner jacket became part of everyday elegance.
The year was marked by protests and riots around the world.
On 5 January the Prague Spring began.
Civil rights events at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Carolina on 13 February.
April 2, 2001: The film Space Odyssey premieres in Washington DC.
Martin Luther King is assassinated on 4 April.
From 23 to 30 April, Columbia University students protest the Vietnam War, occupy buildings and close the University.
On 13 May, student riots break out in Paris.
Student protests begin in Belgrade on 2 June.
Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on 5 June.
Protests against housing discrimination are held in Northern Ireland on 20 June.
The Save the Hundreds of Thousands protests against the Brazilian military government in Rio de Janeiro on 26 June.
In Miami Beach, Richard Nixon is nominated by the Republican Party to be the next President of the United States on 5 August.
From 22 to 30 August, police clash with anti-war protesters in Chicago.
NASA launches the Apollo 7 spacecraft, the first crewed spacecraft on 11 October.
Richard Nixon is elected the next President of the United States on 5 November.
The Apollo 8 crewed spacecraft orbits the Moon on 24 December.
The fashion industry loses its power due to the revolutionary rise of individualism. Women and men decided to no longer stick to the pieces that designers put in front of them. Do it yourself became a much-vaunted phrase.
Striped suits and gangster hats seemed to have emerged from a period film set. Some of the more daring Indians wore headbands.
Balenciaga retired, which shocked the fashion world.
Men’s fashion mixed many fabrics, styles and accessories. Tailored suits became a bold style. The turtleneck and the Nehru coat became fashionable.
President Nixon is sworn in and becomes the 37th President of the United States on 20 January.
Gay contact is legalised in Canada on 27 June.
The gay rights movement begins with the Stonewall riots in New York on 28 June.
Apollo 11 is launched on 16 July.
650 million people watch in awe as Neil Armstrong takes his first historic step on the surface of the moon on 20 July.
One woman wanted to look slim and tall, this year. Fashion stretched. The girl in the miniskirt grew up and became more sensual and sophisticated. She wore softer and clingier clothes.
Slim tunics, thin sleeves, low pockets and belts became more fashionable. Long scarves became fashionable. Accessories began to flourish. Young people wore linked metals, tassels and chain belts.
The term unisex appeared, as women became more masculine by wearing trousers and men became more feminine by using bronzing gels and now cosmetics.
Fashion in the 60s
The 60s were a decade in which many traditions were broken. New cultures were born. Social movements were born. Fashion in the 60s was nonconformist fashion. Nevertheless, it is stylish and trendy. The miniskirt, the colt, the go-go boot and other experimental pieces such as PVC dresses emerged in the mid-60s. Trends from small villages and towns to larger cities and town centres received a lot of media coverage.
They also influenced the world of elite designers, mass clothing manufacturers and haute couture creations. Jackie Kennedy’s Pillbox hat became hugely popular and launched Halston on the road to global fame.
Films that were influential in the 60s
Great historical films were a defining moment in America in the 1960s. In 1959, Ben-Hur was made and was an iconic piece of cinema. Epic filmmaking continued in America in the 1960s.
Twentieth-century stories also made their way onto the screen.
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Comedies also became popular and increasingly elaborate.
The Pink Panther (1963)
The President’s Analyst (1967)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Science fiction and fantasy films used in a wide range of special effects. Malevolent artificial intelligence appeared on the screen.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Musical performers who made their mark in the 1960s
Women’s fashion in the 60s
The First Lady influenced fashion at the beginning of the decade. Tailored skirts, stilettos, boxy jackets and simple geometric dresses were all the rage.
Jeans and Capri trousers, popularised by Audrey Hepburn, where the innovations in women’s fashion. Women’s trousers came in several styles, so it was possible to choose the one that best suited the individual style.
The bikini was invented in France in 1946, but was not adopted by the mass market in the 1950s. However, a breakthrough came in 1963 when it appeared in a teen film.
Space Age fashion
Popular science fiction films and the Cold War space race brought the space age fashion. Designers created boxy shapes and used bold accessories. They used synthetic materials. Pierre Cardin designed clothes with bold shapes and textures. Clothes made of polyester and PVC also became popular.
The Nehru jacket came into fashion in 1966 and was worn by both sexes.
Designer Mary Quan is credited with the introduction of the miniskirt in 1964. The miniskirt changed fashion forever. It appeared in science fiction films as early as the 1950s. Mary, Quan named the skirt after her favourite car, the Mini Cooper.
The iconic miniskirt was a defining feature of the mid-1960s. The Dolly Girls wore long hair, childish dresses often decorated with lace or ribbons. Brightly coloured stockings and crocheted dresses are also part of this distinctive style.
From 1967 onwards, youth culture turned towards a more relaxed hippy or bohemian style. Both men and women wore frayed, bell-bottom jeans, painted shirts, sandals and headbands. Sometimes they went barefoot, women without bras.
The idea of multiculturalism became popular. Inspiration was drawn from all over the world. The style became increasingly distinct. Psychedelic prints, hemp and Woodstock appeared.
Men’s fashion in the 60s
Slim, continental suits and slim ties became fashionable in both the UK and the US. Sean Connery, as worn by James Bond, dictated the fashion trend.
Ivy League fashion was the forerunner of modern preppy. It was the everyday wear of middle-class adults. T-shirts, Harrington jackets, striped T-shirts, sports coats, sweater vests, cardigan sweaters, khaki trousers.
Between 1962 and 1966, the surfock became popular. Many teenagers imitated the look of The Beach Boys. Teens wore surf jackets to advertise their surf clubs.
Mod and British Invasion
The British dictated the style in the middle of the decade. Mods were creating a new fashion. Many young people imitated them. The Mods promoted their own lifestyle by creating television shows and magazines.
Popular and counter-culture influences
The hippie counterculture and the freak scene created a unisex look among middle-class youth. Long hair, painted floral motifs, Bob Dylan hats, bell-bottom trousers, peace symbols. Jimi Hendrix proclaimed that war is outdated by wearing old military uniforms.
By 1968, the space age was steadily being replaced by a new Edwardian style of dress. Brocade vests, ruffled collars. Stunning colours. Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones embodied this look. Men’s clothing became very colourful. Fashion directors were called Dandies or Dudes or Peacocks.
The 60s was a very colourful and unique decade for fashion. There were huge changes in society and in fashion. As countercultures emerged, fashion changed. Different youth cultures and subcultures developed their own fashion trends, which became dominant in different ways.
The biggest subculture was the hippie subculture, which started in this decade. It continued in the following decade and later returned several times. Another characteristic event of the 1960s was the Cold War and the space race. Science fiction films set in space were a bridge to the start of the space fad, which also emerged in this decade.
The 1960s were a decade of experimentation and great change, with the Apollo programme developed by the US space programme achieving the goal of sending a man to the moon and successful returning him by the end of the decade. A new era for humanity had begun. The liberating countercultures, the successful space program.