1960's fashion history was full of defining factors. From coat length to skirt length, and from trousers to patterns, fashion took center stage. The signature shape was low-waisted, full and relaxed oval designs, with bloused tops. Tight-fitting waistlines were rarely found here. Floral designs and luxurious fabrics became mainstream, and the idea of separate fashions for young people and adults continued to grow in popularity.
An oval-shaped design dominated, with low waistlines, relaxed, long blouses and full coats. The overblouse is an example of this style. Figure contours were not ignored, but were defined by the way shirts and jackets were seamed, in diagonal directions. Side-closing jackets and dresses were also common.
Trousers for Women
Women's suits appeared with culottes or trousers instead of skirts. Work clothes were designed that allowed women to be comfortably attired in this modern suit version. Some workplaces would allow this, and others wouldn't.
Colors and Layered Fabrics
Bright colors and floral patterns were a part of the fashion trends. Sleeveless dresses with coats layered over them were popular, and layering of fabrics in the design in chiffon or organza was also common.
Silk, linen, wool and tweed were used widely, despite their high cost. Extravagance was celebrated, and fur was also used to accessorize, in collars, linings and hats. Embroidery made a signature statement. Luxury in clothing became a sign of the times. Many women wanting to show their status also carried alligator purses, then $200 or more, which were a high-priced accessory that spoke to one's success in life. Silk added to linens and tweeds made even the sports and daywear have a luxurious component.
Artistic patterns, especially flowers, were a decorative theme in the designs of the fabrics. Bright colors for the spring and summer, and muted colors for the cooler seasons, were ongoing themes in the designs.
Among younger women, hemlines reached new and controversial heights. The minidress and miniskirt were cut well above the knee, raising the eyebrows of parents.
Early in the decade, women were highly influenced by the look of Jacqueline Kennedy, whose colorful skirt suits, jackets and hats quickly became fashion staples. As the decade progressed, the wild and fun designs of Carnaby Street in London, worn by popular singers and models such as Twiggy and Petula Clark, became popular. Thin was definitely in for both women and men, as most of the Carnaby Street designers favored long, narrow looks.
Among men, the rough, greaser look of the 1950s, with jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets remained, although it would lose ground to the fashion sense of British bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, who arrived on American shores sporting tailored, solid-color suits and narrow ties.
As the decade progressed, some men embraced a near haute couture level of fashion, seeking out velvet waistcoats and ruffled shirts and collars that evoked the Victorian era. Others preferred a modern, edgy look, with tight-fitting leather jackets and leather pants or jeans accompanied by open, collared shirts.