1960s: dresses for women and fashion

Written by brooke ashley
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  • Introduction

    1960s: dresses for women and fashion

    Dress styles in the 1960s spanned one extreme to the other -- from the conservative styles of the early years to the psychedelic fashions as the '70s approached. In the early 1960s, dresses were ladylike and proper. Evening and outing dresses were paired with gloves, petticoats and girdles. The latter half of the 1960s saw a switch to more modern styling, with shorter hemlines, bolder patterns and accessories such as go-go boots and dangled earrings.

    Dresses from the 1960s are sold as vintage pieces today. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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    Day Dress

    Day dresses from the 1960s featured scoop-neck styling and straight or pleated skirts. The bodice was tight-fitting and was zippered through the back of the dress. Often worn with matching cardigans or jackets, day dresses became iconic through Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore them frequently. Unlike the day dress from the 1950s, this decade's version came in bolder colours and patterns, though hemlines remained at or below the knee. Day dress fabrics included wool, starched silks or cotton blends.

    Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing a day dress and pillbox hat when President Kennedy was shot. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

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    Shirtwaist Dress

    Similar in fit and style to the day dress, the shirtwaist dress also featured a button-down front bodice with a matching sash or belt at the waist area. The buttons were classically styled or simulated pearls, and the dress fabrics included colourful silks or cotton blends. Additional features of the shirtwaist dress included convertible collars and roll-up sleeves, which reflected the more casual styling of the dress.

    The shirtwaist dress has inspired fashion designers of today, such as Diane Von Furstenberg. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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    Tent Dress

    The mid-1960s brought the introduction of the tent dress, with a free-flowing bodice and short hem line, often falling several inches above the knee. Also known as a trapeze dress, the tent style featured bold colour patterns including geometric shapes and stripes. Tight-fitting collars were a thing of the past, as the curved yoke collar added to the liberating style of this dress.

    The free-flowing, shortened hem tent dress is still fashionable today. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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    Mod Dress

    The mod dress was part of late-1960s fashion, and came in a colourful array of psychedelic patterns, including paisleys and peace signs. Zippered in the back, this short dress with a slight flair in the skirt area was worn by famous icons of the time, including Twiggy and Goldie Hawn. Bold, daring and adventurous, the mod dress featured long or short sleeves and was often paired with go-go boots.

    Mod dresses and platform boots are still present in modern day fashion. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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