What would you wear for parties in the '60s?

Written by magdalene ayuk
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What would you wear for parties in the '60s?
Pop stars were highly revered in the '60s. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The average young adult in the '60s was equipped with a new-found sense of freedom as society moved away from the conservative values and mores of the '50s. As such, college campuses became epicentres of political debates, and respect for authority declined while admiration for pop stars and fashion icons flourished. Women and men alike were more liberal in mindset and in dress, especially when it came time to party.

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Pleated Skirts

At the beginning of the '60s, women still donned the knee-grazing, pleated numbers of the previous decade. The skirts, usually patterned or of a vibrant colour, had pleats both in the front and back of the garment. Not only did this type of attire allow women to dance freely since their legs were unencumbered, the pleats also offered a great visual effect when the wearer twirled around on the dance floor.

Mini-skirts and Mini-dresses

Mini-skirts and minidresses became popular in the mid-'60s. Designers John Bates, Yves Saint Laurent and Mary Quant capitalised on this trend, which moved the hemline as much as eight to 10 inches above the knee, by creating leg-bearing pieces that wowed the youth population. More and more celebrities donned these types of garments, also nicknamed "the gymslip of the permissive society," according to the online publication Icons. Most young women in the western world welcomed the miniskirt with open arms and styled it with loose fitted tops. Mini-dresses, sleeveless and A-line in shape, were common fixtures on the party scene.


Colourful and funky-patterned tights were a major staple in '60s mod fashion, which, according to writers Paul Jobling and David Crowley, was a "fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool." Partakers in this subculture, known as mods, were drawn to U.S. soul music, black culture and all things edgy, and their fancies were apparent in their sense of style. Tights were paired with minidresses or oversized sweaters.

Crop Tops

Faithful to the theme of liberation predominant in this decade, many fashion-forward women threw on midriff-bearing tops over hip-huggers (low-rise trousers that fasten at the hips) to show off their figures. These garments, usually fashioned from cotton, were a common occurrence at pool parties as they were breathable and bared a good amount of skin. Designers would embellished their pieces with sequins, which were hits among partygoers.

Bell Bottoms

The '60s were marked by androgyny. Toward the end of the decade, men and women alike wore trousers that flared at the bottom, the fashion "piece de resistance" of the then-budding hippie counterculture. Elvis, Sonny and Cher were all aficionados of this trend and popularised it among the youth population. Young adults would wear these denim bottoms to clubs, disco parties and retro band revivals. Bell bottoms were often paired with tie-dyed loose-fitted T-shirts or bright buttoned-up shirts.

Velvet Pants

Men's fashion of the '60s was all about refinement. They wore tight-fitted velvet trousers, a style of dressing called "peacock," since it was said men would dress up to the nines to attract mates at social events. Velvet trousers were adjusted with a wide belt, and could very well be worn with a polka dot print shirt, which would bring even more attention.

Nehru Jacket

The Nehru is a single-breasted slim-fitted jacket with a band collar originating from India. It became popular when the Beatles, following a trip to India, were seen sporting this alternative to the suit jacket. Often paired with slim-fit polyester trousers, the Nehru jacket sat right at the hip. Women also wore the Nehru with miniskirts, blending the feminine and masculine as was common in this decade.

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