The sixties are well known for fashion and music; both of which influence each other. It’s an era often talked about as one era but there was, in fact, a clear development in the world of fashion that mirrored the changing face of society both in the US and in Britain.
It started with a suit
During the early part of the decade, men were still dressing quite conservatively and suits were still in vogue. The classic American suit with a single-breasted jacket with narrow notch lapels, a tie, and polished shoes, was very much in style. And the look was finished off with neat, combed hair.
For less formal occasions the Ivy League style continued to be popular. Epitomised by the sack suit which consisted of 3 buttons with the top button ‘rolled’ back to reveal only two usable buttons and cuffed pants. This was the preserve of college kids and the middle classes who wanted to look effortlessly stylish. The look was embraced by figures such as JFK and used natural fabrics, shirts with button-down collars, and penny loafers. Hairstyles remained neat.
Meanwhile in Britain
Drawing inspiration from the Ivy League look, young men in Britain were looking for their own style and from this grew the Mod look; mohair suits, Oxford shirts or polo shirts, US army parkas and penny loafers. It was a look influenced by the Ivy League but keen to push boundaries and be seen as very different from the norm.
Then there were the artists
The Beat Movement was a popular youth subculture that attracted artists, poets, and writers alike. Simple and understated, the look promoted anti-materialism and soul searching, and was worn by Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Its components are simple: narrow black pants, a black turtleneck and sometimes a black beret. The clothes were often tight-fitting and, for women, in particular, became a symbol of sexual freedom.
Perhaps one of the most defining styles of the sixties was the hippy look. The hippy movement grew as a reaction to the Vietnam War. It was anti-war, anti-violence and anti-establishment. Everything about this fashion was a two-fingered salute to the authorities. It came with a philosophy of ‘anything goes’ and everything got bigger, longer and more in your face; hair, collars, pants. Color, bell-bottomed pants, psychedelic patterns, and free love were the order of the day. The look was ground-breaking and unique. And it crossed the pond to the UK where Carnaby Street became the focus of London fashion.
The sixties was a time of huge societal change and a loosening of the rules around fashion and style. People were encouraged to push boundaries, express themselves and be bold. It changed fashion for good. One might even say it encouraged individual style over the following fashion. Today we still see the effects of the 1960s in our fashion industry with fashion being a starting point for people who want to put their own twist on something and make a look become their own. A trend that wouldn’t have happened without the 1960s.
For more articles like this or for fashion and tailoring hints and tips check out other topics in our blog section.