If someone from the future were to take a peek inside of our wardrobes, they'd have a pretty hard time determining what year it is. This season alone, we've got wide-leg denim that looks as if it has come from the '70s, '90s accessories like chunky loafers and nylon bags, and statement-making '80s puff sleeves all thrown together. However, if there's one decade that quietly overarches them all, it's the 1960s.
Every season without fail, on and off the runway, some aspect of '60s fashion is referenced. For example, for the past few winters, we saw loads of fashion people wearing white boots—a classic item from the era—as well as bold floral prints. But that's not where the influence of '60s fashion ends. It was a momentous time for fashion and the way we consume it. In the '50s, Dior set the tone for post-war 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. This makes the '60s one of the most important decades in fashion history.
Instead of a singular defining trend, it was a time when 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 practiced chic minimalism. Twiggy's elfish clothes-horse 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. You might be surprised at just how many you already own.
The Best of '60s Fashion
1. The Miniskirt
Style Notes: You can't talk about '60s fashion without mentioning the miniskirt. By 1966, Mary Quant was designing minidresses and skirts that sat six or seven inches above the knee. While she can't lay claim to inventing them—that accolade goes to André Courrèges, who first explored shorter hems in 1964—we can credit her with the silhouette's eventual success.
2. Leopard Print
Style Notes: While floral may be the motif most associated with the era, leopard print was just as popular. Worn by celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, its "rock star" association ensured its cult style status.
3. The Beret
Style Notes: Throughout the course of the decade, interest in French new-wave films continued to rise, which directly correlates to the prevalence of the beret in '60s fashion.
4. The Tuxedo for Women
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.
5. The Babydoll Dress
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 short, 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.
6. Orange and Brown
Style Notes: While there were a lot of psychedelic patterns swirling around in 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 eveningwear. Their loose nature ensured they were seen as less revealing.
8. The Pillbox Hat
Style Notes: Jackie O's style was unfalteringly elegant—even in the face of tragedy—and it made her a fashion pin-up 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.
9. Space-Age Fashion
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. 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, chain mail and otherworldly whites.
10. Vinyl Fabrications
Style Notes: Young designers in the 1960s were keen to explore the use of man-made materials in their creations. Exploiting 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 Quant gave us in the '60s, but they weren't just the Peter Pan collar and 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.
12. The Off-the-Shoulder Top
Style Notes: 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.
13. Rounded and Oversized Sunglasses
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.
14. Contrasting Buttons
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—the last few years' obsession with tortoiseshell buttons serve as a prime example.
Style Notes: Beatnik fashion started back in the 1940s, but it was still going strong in the '60s. 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.
16. Tonal Dressing
Style Notes: The era's love of bright colours was taken to the next level when people started 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 group's members changed over time, and when a member left, they had to leave behind their outfits.
18. Mixing Up Prints
Style Notes: The '60s was a time for experimenting. And fashion was just one way to do that. Case in point: stripes with checks.
19. White Boots
Style Notes: Thanks to the likes of Nancy Sinatra and her hit "These Boots Are Made for Walking"and go-go dancers, who were known for wearing knee-high boots, white shoes (and boots) are still popular in our wardrobes.
20. The Satin Blouse
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.
22. A Dress Over Trousers
Style Notes: The layered look is still one we go for today. Back in the '60s, it tapped into the hippy style trend.
23. Bishop Sleeves
Style Notes: Bishop sleeves are still going strong today. You need only look to the likes of Zimmermann to see how popular they are.
24. Drop Earrings
Style Notes: Drop earrings are one of the major jewellery trends from the 1960s. Whether they came in bold colours or in silver, these are a classic, vintage look.
25. The Belted Shift Dress
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.
26. The Crochet Dress
Style Notes: The crochet dress has made a real comeback for 2021, 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.
27. Low Heels
Style Notes: While 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.
28. The Peter Pan Collar
Style Notes: Barbra Streisand opted for a Peter Pan collar for the Oscars in 1969, which was pure 1960s style. While the collar's name was coined in 1905 after actress Maude Adams's Peter Pan costume, it was Pattie Boyd's costume for her role in A Hard Day's Night—in which she wore a school-girl look complete with the aforementioned collar—that made the style fashionable.
29. Bold Floral Prints
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.
30. Thong Sandals
Style Notes: Flip-flops, both heeled and flat, have been one of the biggest footwear trends in the last few years, but did you know they originate from the '60s? Yep, we didn't either until we unearthed this chic evidence.
Style Notes: It's a detail that constantly crops up on dresses, tops, and skirts. That's right. Shirring is just another modern-day trend we can thank the '60s for.
Style Notes: It might not seem like a trend, but prior to the '60s, pockets were rarely featured on women's clothing. Not only did they make outfits look striking, but pockets also allowed women to carry their items on their person instead of having to house them in a handbag.
33. The Headscarf
Style Notes: A trend that's been steadily growing in momentum over the last couple of seasons, a headscarf was the headwear of choice for many of the '60s most fashionable women.
Now that we've sorted through the '60s, let's get on to the biggest autumn/winter 2021 fashion trends you really ought to know about.
This piece was published at an earlier time and has recently been updated.
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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