Women's Fashion in the 1960s

Women's clothing in the 1960s began not with a bang but with a slow sizzle that eventually exploded into a mixture of fashion colours, styles and statements. Early 1960s fashion for women emphasised sensibility and was often neutral-coloured and dull in look. However, by 1965, boutiques all around the United States began selling miniskirts, plastic clothing and false eyelashes, according to Tim Healey, author of "The 1960s."


A number of different dress styles commonly worn by women in the mid-'60s gave a nod to fashionable style while staying with the appropriate conventions of housewife femininity. Knit polo dresses in deep and bright colours such as lime green or bright yellow offered a convenient style to wear on a day-to-day basis.

Shirtwaist dresses were often worn, beginning in the early '60s; they featured full gathers of fabric that cinched the waist and ended around mid-calf. By 1968, the shirtwaist dress was updated to offer a short hem above the knee and a wider belt to give definition to the body.


Hemlines for skirts began to shorten in the mid-'60s. Designer Mary Quant modified high-fashion designs and make hems significantly shorter, allowing the wearer to expose more leg. To accommodate the leg exposure, pantyhose and tights became increasingly used as stockings did not adequately protect the wearer from adverse weather elements.


Make-up began to make a change in the 1960s from the picture-perfect conventions of the 1950s face. Big, dramatic eye make-up complete with a set of false eyelashes defined the make-up trends of the '60s. Dark eyeliner, bright eye shadows like blue and green accentuated the size of the eyes, while pale "dewy" lip glosses gave a little shine to lips. Bronzer and blushes made a distinctive appearance as a highlight for dramatic cheekbones.


Christian Dior created wild and bold statements with hat wear in 1967 fashion. According to Victoriana magazine, Dior designed various hat styles during this time, including a tall, beehive-shaped straw hat, a bowler with a wide ribboned daisy and conical-shaped straw hats.


In the 1960s, trousers ranged from the narrow and petite to wide and flared. Formal trousers made from jersey, cotton velvet and even satin completed outfits when combined with tunics or matching jackets.

"Flower power" appeared in late '60s fashion; one example were the bell-bottomed flower-patterned trousers that were worn. Wide gaucho-styled pantsuits called "culottes" made out of rayon and cotton blends were used for semi-formal evening wear and entertaining at the home.


Styled hair was fashionable. Long straight hair with fringe were common among hippie styles for both men and women. Curls, natural, permed or set every day, defined a "fashionable" woman of the '60s. The Beatles helped to usher in short haircuts with bowl shapes and extreme bang lines for men and women. Hair could be styled in curls and pulled up for formal occasions or let down and straightened for more casual occasions.

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About the Author

Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.