Men's fashion in the 60s

Written by bonnie swain schindly
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Men's fashion in the 60s
Men's ties went from conservative to loud during the 1960s. (Mens Neck Ties image by Jim Mills from

Men's fashions in the 1960s ranged from elegant formals to the casual beatnik styles. The post-war Baby Boomers came of age during the 1960s and influenced the fashion industry with their spending power. President Kennedy symbolised the country's prosperity at the onset of the decade, while war protesters dominated the latter years of that same era. In the middle of it all was the British invasion.


President Kennedy wore tuxedo tails and a stovepipe hat for his inauguration in 1961. Kennedy's father and former President Eisenhower also wore traditional top hats and tails for the occasion. But after the pomp and circumstances, JFK preferred to go without a hat, causing the popularity of men's hats to wane. Even without their brimmed hats, American businessmen continued the trend of wearing starched white shirts and suits to work. Sports coats were unacceptable in this era that preceded casual Fridays. Men's ties and shirt collars typically were thin at the onset of the 1960s. By the end of the decade, those same ties widened to almost five inches and were made from loud, printed or striped fabrics.


Americans expressed their political and social restlessness through fashions during the turbulent 1960s. Men swapped their crew cuts and clean-shaven chins for long hair and full beards. They preferred denims and buffalo plaids over the standard button-down shirts and slacks, even though jeans historically had been reserved for the working class. Throughout the decade, men shopped for bell-bottoms--trousers that had a wide flare between the hem and knee. They also preferred hunting for jeans at Army surplus stores. Guys enhanced there overall psychedelic looks with tie-dyed T-shirts, love beads, sandals and bare chests underneath fringed vests.


Men turned to turtlenecks and polyester trousers in between the Kennedy and Woodstock influences on fashions. Fashion hits included double-breasted blazers and Nehru shirts that had open mandarin collars and embroidered trim. Conservative patterns on shirts and ties were out and plaids, stripes and paisleys were in vogue. The Beatles introduced the mop top hairstyle in 1964 while performing in their dark suits and ties. By 1969, the legendary musicians were sporting beards, long hair and more flamboyant clothing, and American men were following along.

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