Women's Clothes in the 1960s

Updated July 20, 2017

The 1960s were a decade of excitement and change for the fashion world. For the first time, youth culture began to express a voice different from that of their parents. The "youth-quake" of the 1960s was directional and touched on all cultural areas from fashion to film, art and music. Before the '60s, clothing was designed for women and for men, and teens would often imitate these styles. In the 1960s, teens dictated fashion trends, and women's fashion in turn was influenced by youthfulness.

Women's Fashion vs. Youth Movement

While youth culture dominated fashion in the 1960s, women's fashion was still distinctively different. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was arguably the most influential figure in women's fashion of this period. While the younger generation looked to supermodel Twiggy and designer Mary Quant as inspiration for their "mod" look, Jackie O.'s style was more polished and refined. Women wore monochromatic suits or dresses with simple, clean lines. Swing jackets were the most popular look in outerwear. Jacqueline Kennedy influenced everything from hairstyles to clothing to accessories.

Accessories and Silhouettes

Popular accessories for women during the 1960s included pillbox hats, plastic jewellery and large sunglasses, which displayed more playful attitudes toward dressing compared to the past. Playfulness was demonstrated through large plastic buttons, plastic jewellery, pastels and bright colours. Clothing stayed simple, with the popular A-line cut appearing in dresses and skirts. Boxy and cinched waists were no longer the main focus.

Rise in Hemlines

The influence of youth culture also called for shorter hemlines. While teenagers opted for micro-mini lengths, women's hemlines rose above the knee. The 1960s gave birth to the miniskirt trend, worn by women of all ages, creating a focus on the legs.

European Influences

London was very influential on fashion of the 1960s. The city had the largest youth movement that frequented areas such as Carnaby Street, and shopped at Mary Quant's famous store, Biba. Italian designer Emilio Pucci influenced the print direction of the 1960s, with his psychedelic multicoloured styles. The Pucci prints complemented the playful silhouettes of the decade.

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About the Author

Melanie Cheung is a Montreal-based writer and designer who began writing professionally in 2009 for a fashion and music-centered lifestyle blog. She holds a Bachelor of Design in fashion design from Ryerson University.