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Fashion Influence in the 1960's

Why not start with my most beloved period of fashion: The 1960’s – more refined to the mid to late 60’s.

60s Dior

To understand the fashion of the 60's you have to know its major influences. Fashion is a response to the events and movements of the time.

Just a quick note: I feel it’s important to break down the decade into 3 main blocks.

Early, Mid and late.

Often with trends the early part of the decade backdates to the one before e.g. in the 1950’s the dominant silhouettes and styles filter through the early 60's. So the looks we identify with a certain era quite often begin in the mid to late part of the era.

So keep in mind when I talk about this decade I’ll mostly refer to the mid and later time period.

I wear a lot of 60's dresses and really get a kick out of the fashion ideas and artistic patterns that have come out of this era particularly in counter culture.

To the mainstream nowadays a lot of these looks or outfits may seem ridiculous and over the top but once you learn why people wore this you’re outlook may change to an appreciation for the odd.

The 1960’s were a time of bold colours, loud psychedelic patterns, child-like looks and nostalgic references. Why?

60's Pucci

The progressive notion from the 50’s of youth in revolt emerged in full force.

This is the era of a major generational gap.

In the early 1960’s a lot of scary things were happening that the younger generation blamed their parents generation for: War, political unrest and racism.

They strived to separate themselves from ‘scary’ adulthood and moved towards an ideal style of fun and playful escapism.

The fashionable generation of the 60's wanted to look different from their parents and although a lot of them were in-fact adults they wanted to appear far from it.

The mid 60’s look revolved around looking childlike and playful. Towards the end of the decade fashion then evolved to a more artistic approach. The late 60's saw the child like ideal and fun flowery patterns elongate into undulating spirals of a dreamlike acid trip. Fashion became a protest to the sadness in the world. The hippie movement aided it but the music scene set it up to progress.

Fashion is a response to what happened through these times.

The 60's showcased a massive amount of colour clashing, eccentric bold patterns and boxy silhouettes. This solely suggests the notion that people just wanted to have fun with their style.

Wearing less clothing e.g. shorter skirts also supported this ideal. The mini skirt is the most revolutionary movement of this era.

No major emphasis on silhouette became normal. Women wore shift dresses or tunics and men layered vests over ruffles to create exaggerated Victorian or Edwardian profiles.

Wearing loud patterns spoke enough for the garments. It was like wearing art not being an art form.

Things to know about the 60’s that influenced the fashion:

The Beatles

The Beatles were cheeky and charming. They were lads you could picture as your pals.

People wanted to be close to them, literally! They were adored for their fun original personalities as well as their music.

They sung whimsical love songs that, like 60’s fashion, evolved to escapism.

I don’t need to explain the music really but it’s important to know however that The Beatles music infused fashion as they promoted ideals of fun, quirky and mischievous attitudes.

People wanted to be their muses.

Later in The Beatles sound came the influence of LSD and escaping reality.

This to me is the biggest influence on fashion of the late 60’s.


This was the time of forgetting the world’s mess of war and ongoing civil rights battles but taking yourself on a journey of self-discovery and love.

LSD altered ones perception of the world. It added extreme colour and mystic utopias.

Trippy and surreal artwork mirrored the bliss of LSD and it wriggled into mainstream fashion.

Even people who never took LSD accepted the imaginative and capricious notions that LSD expressed through fashion.

Psychedelic artwork and fabric patterns are probably the first thing you'd think of when you think of 60s fashion.

The Street

The 60’s saw the flip of where fashion influence came from.

Originally the movement of a trend or look came like this:

  • A designer thinks up and idea

  • That idea is translated through Haute Couture

  • Haute couture is sold and worn by the rich and stylish.

  • Fashion departments/brands then replicate those looks.

  • The replicated looks are bought by the mainstream and worn on ‘the street’.

But in the 60's the main fashion styles were originated in the street.

  • Youth style and looks from counter culture progress on its own

  • Boutique store’s replicate fashion seen on the street

  • Popular culture buys into these original concepts

  • Designers note what’s happening in pop-culture and manufacture to a uniform look

  • Which is then worn by the mainstream


Home of the Mods and British rock music. London was the happening place of the 60's.

It was seen as a happy place far from the violence brewing in the US and where youth and creativity were booming.

Mod fashion was originated by young men who had disposable incomes who wanted to look clean, slick and like the models in french magazines. The look was characterised with suits, houndstooth prints and anorak jackets.

Mods had money to spend on themselves and loved to show that off.

Eventually women included themselves and adapted a beatnik look of berets, capris and turtlenecks.

But the term Mod became widely used as the way to describe fashion forward youth.

London was home to Mary Quant who popularised the mini skirt and revolutionised 60's fashion. She saw what fashionable youth was wearing on the streets and moulded her fashion house around not only the style but the culture.

Her style is characterised by bold, mix matched, block colours.

England was where the music scene was booming. Bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones were part of the soirée. This music took over the world and was known as 'The British Invasion'.

The music transitioned the late 60s style to look romantic, nostalgic and dreamy. This challenged conventional US males as androgyny and makeup slid into the rock n roll image.


During the late 60's the 'peacock' trend was widely embraced. Showing off a flashing assortment of patterns, excessive jewellery and eastern fashion was desired.

Looking highly decorated like an Edwardian soldier or a dreamy storybook character was popularised by musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Floaty garments and surreal patterns was a direct renaissance of the styles seen in the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century.

Art Nouveau depicted intricate designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.

This romantic fashion trend translates with emphasis on layering or draping, excessive accessories and swirling painterly patterns.

1920s Chic

There’s always a reference to an early decade in most fashions. In the 60's referencing 1920's fashion was stylish and chic.

In the 20's women were feeling liberated from corsets so they made their frame look boxy, far from the hourglass shape it once displayed.

A silhouette of a dropped waist or no waist and boxy frame similar to the 20’s flapper style re-emerged during the 60’s.

The epitome of 20's flapper fashion was to break free from the restraints of looking feminine but progressing to fashion that was universal in its approach; playful and charming. Which is what the 60's fashion scene characterised.

In the 1920's the hemlines of ones dress rose dramatically. It was the first time women had shown their legs off in public. This part of history repeated with the hugely popular mini skirt as mentioned earlier.

Outer Space

I'm excited most of all to bring up the 'space' fascination.

This was a time when modernity, machinery and science had rapidly advanced.

People had become fascinated with outer space and sci-fi in the 1950's so during the 60's a really fun trend had progressed.

Designers like André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne pioneered the craze in fashion.

This trend is one of the most nonsensical in the sense that most of the fashion came from fictional paradigms. Although, I’m sure we’d all love to wear a dress made up of oversized silver palettes like Barbarella realistically we’d probably be wearing something far from it.

The 60s space age utopia translated in fashion was another example of the fun designers and stylish people were having.

Hippie Movement

I guess I can’t end without mentioning the hippie movement of the late 60's.

I bet its the first thing most people associate with the 60's and its fashion.

Flower children, peace protests, Woodstock and a bohemian lifestyle.

It’s important to note that the hippie movement of the 60's lasted over a very small time period and should be recognised more as a social movement in a liberal sub-culture than a fashion trend.

But, if you relate any fashion to people who lived a hedonistic, nature focussed and free loving lifestyle you'd pigeonhole them as hippies.

Hippie fashion was often second-hand or self made as not to promote consumerism.

Recognisable hippie garments include bellbottoms, tasselled buckskin vests or jackets, tie-dyed t-shirts and a lot of non-western clothing like eastern, African and native American clothing.

There are many more facets to 60’s fashion and many influences I've not mentioned. These are just some major references to give you a better understanding of why people were wearing such loud and vibrant colours or patterns.

Here's a gallery of fantastic 60s looks and references to round off this lesson.

If you're now totally digging 60's fashion don't forget its my fave era of fashion so I do my best to keep The Aquarium Vintage stocked up with 60s outfits!

| Leah |

#fashionhistory #60sfashion #1960s #fashion #60sstyle

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