Every season without fail, on and off the catwalk, some aspect of ’60s fashion is referenced. For example, this season we saw loads of street stylers wearing white boots—a classic item from the era—as well as bold floral prints. But that’s not where the decade’s fashion influence ends. It was a momentous time for fashion and the way we consume it. In the ’50s, Dior set the tone for postwar style with its structured hourglass silhouettes. But come the ’60s, hemlines rose and waists loosened as the sexual revolution gave way to an onslaught of new fashion possibilities.
Instead of a singular defining trend, it was a decade where many fashion tribes emerged, each with a signature style. Rather than fashion houses, it was It girls who set the trends. Brigitte Bardot had her beehive and Audrey Hepburn’s chic minimalism, while Twiggy’s elfish clotheshorse look made her the poster girl for Mary Quant’s colourful minis. And that’s all before we’ve even discussed the high glamour of the likes of the Supremes and Cher. However, all of these looks while different have one thing in common: We still wear them today. Keep scrolling to click through the ’60s fashion trends we’ll never chuck out of our wardrobes.
Style Notes: You can’t talk ’60s fashion without mentioning the miniskirt. By 1966, Mary Quant was designing minidresses and skirts that sat 6 or 7 inches above the knee, and while she can’t lay claim to inventing it—that accolade goes to André Courrèges, who first explored shorter hems in 1964—we can credit her with the silhouette’s eventual success.
Style Notes: While floral may be the motif most associated with the era, leopard print was just as popular. Worn by celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, its “rock star” association ensured its cult style status.
Style Notes: Throughout the course of the decade, interest in French new-wave films continued to rise, which directly correlate to the prevalence of the beret in ’60s fashion.
Style Notes: Despite the popularity of looser silhouettes and higher hemlines, trousers were still considered vulgar for women. In 1966, YSL debuted Le Smoking, a tuxedo that epitomised sex appeal and was considered to have such potent powers of seduction that it was banned from restaurants. (Socialite Nan Kempner was famously turned away from a New York brasserie for wearing one.) The look was slated by fashion critics, who implied that Yves Saint Laurent was trying too hard to appeal to young people—regardless, it was a hit.
Style Notes: The onset of the sexual revolution liberated women in terms of their style choices, and comfort took precedence over form for many. Loose around the waist and the shorter, the better, the babydoll dress was a symbol of rebellion for the young Mods who made them popular. They symbolised a rejection of the sculpted styles that were so popular in the ’50s.
Style Notes: While there was a lot of psychedelic patterns swirling around the ’60s, towards the end of the era, brown and orange became incredibly popular as a sort of backlash against the bolder colours of earlier years.
Style Notes: By the tail end of the decade, flared styles took off as a more acceptable form of evening wear. Their loose nature ensured they were seen as less revealing.
Style Notes: Jackie O’s style was unfalteringly elegant—even in the face of tragedy—and it made her a fashion pinup for women worldwide. Her boxy suits, big sunglasses and pillbox hats were her signatures, and the pink suit and matching hat she wore on the day of JFK’s assassination became the most iconic look of the decade.
Style Notes: The space race in the ’60s had young designers clamouring to create out-of-this-world styles. They assumed that intergalactic travel for the masses was imminent and naturally we’d all need to look chic on the moon. André Courrèges’s designs epitomised the space-age look of Mod-influenced bonnets, dresses and boots made in high-tech fabrics with clean lines. Now the look has come full circle: Chanel and Christopher Kane took intergalactic inspiration for their recent collections, debuting metallics, chainmail and otherworldly whites.
Style Notes: Young designers in 1960s were keen to explore the use of man-made materials in their creations. Exploited the previously untapped potential of modern plastics and synthetic fibres like vinyl and nylon, they created outfits that were easy to care for and fun to wear in equal measure.
Style Notes: There are plenty of trends that fashion designer Mary Quant gave us in the ’60s, but it wasn’t just the Peter Pan collar or the miniskirt; it was a combination of a few looks that came together to give us the Mod. The influence of this era still goes on today.
Style Notes: Brigitte Bardot and fellow fashion icon Jane Birkin (pictured) made the off-the-shoulder top a staple of women’s wardrobes in the ’60s. The look was risqué but ideal for when you’re jetting off to the French Riviera. The top is still incredibly popular to this day.
Style Notes: Rounded and oversized sunnies were vital in the ’60s. From John Lennon’s classic glasses to Jane Fonda’s cat-eye hybrids, we’re still wearing these today.
Style Notes: Still reeling from the frugality of the ’50s, contrasting buttons proved to be a cost-effective way to update garments and make them more directional in the decade that would follow. This is a design trick still used today—last year’s obsession with tortoiseshell buttons serving as a prime example.
Style Notes: Beatnik fashion started back in the 1940s, but it was still going strong in the ’60s too. It was mostly identified by a love of black with a Breton top thrown in for good measure. Jean Seberg is one of the poster girls for this look.
Style Notes: The era’s love of bright colours was taken to the next level by wearing one hue from top-to-toe—a look we continue to spy during Fashion Month and on Instagram to this day.
Style Notes: The signature look of the Supremes was glamour, so it’s not surprising that sequins featured heavily. The groundbreaking girl group’s members changed over time, and when a member left, they had to leave behind their outfits.
Style Notes: The ’60s was a time of experimenting. And fashion was just one way in which to do that. Case in point: stripes with checks.
Style Notes: Thanks to the likes of Nancy Sinatra and her hit These Boots Were Made for Walking, plus the go-go dancers, who were known for wearing knee-high boots, white shoes (and boots) are still popular in our wardrobes.
Style Notes: There’s nothing we don‘t love about Cher’s style—from then and now (yes, even that lace bodysuit). But back in the ’60s, her style was so so cool and included a range of satin blouses.
Style Notes: Fringing is still a frivolous and pretty much non-functional part of clothing. However, in the ’60s this looked ace on the likes of Marsha Hunt.
Style Notes: The layered look is still one we go for today. Back in the ’60s it tapped into the hippy style trend.
Style Notes: The Bishop sleeve is still going strong today. You need only look to the likes of Zimmermann to see how popular is it.
Style Notes: Drop earrings are one of the major jewellery trends from the 1960s. Whether they came in bold colours, such as here, or in silver, these are a classic vintage look.
Style Notes: Whether it’s a dress, a jacket or a skirt, the belted style is always going to be popular, as it helps to pull in the waist and make an outfit much more flattering.
Style Notes: The crochet dress has made a real comeback for 2019 and we’re here for it. It can either be a full head-to-toe crochet frock or a little detail such as the one featured here.
Style Notes: White white boots might have been super popular for shoes, there was also a big trend for easy-to-walk-in heels. Slingbacks and kitten heels were the perfect match for the minidresses of the era.
Style Notes: Barbra Streisand opted for a Peter Pan collar on her outfit for the Oscars in 1969, which was pure 1960s style. While the collar’s name was coined in 1905 after actress Maude Adam costume as Peter Pan, it wasn’t until Pattie Boyd’s role in A Hard Day's Night, in which she wore a school-girl look complete with aforementioned collar, that made the style fashionable.
Style Notes: The floral prints of the 1960s are currently featured in many designer collections. Most notably Dodo Bar Or’s flowing dresses are clearly inspired by the decade’s bold colours and prints.
Now that we’ve sorted through the ’60s, let’s get onto the biggest spring/summer 2020 fashion trends you really ought to know about.
The piece was published at an earlier date and has recently been updated.
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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