The 60’s Through Fashion

Through my research of the 60’s decade, I have learned that fashion styles and trends can be separated into two specific areas.

During the early stages of this decade of social change, until about 1966, fashion was directed towards a sophisticated and glamorous look. This look reflected style icons of the time such as Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Mary Quant. Many of the fashions were inspired by the creations of Coco Chanel, who specialised in chic suits with either trousers or knee length skirts and worn by the socially elite, wealthy women.

At the same time, the designs, concepts and creations of Mary Quant emerged in America, and were embraced by the youth. She is credited with introducing the miniskirt into common society. She created her clothing to fit herself, as did Chanel, and from this, the slim, boyish, schoolgirl figure became popular. This can be seen in the popularity of models of the time such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.

Towards the end of this fashion-orientated decade, the look turned to a more natural and hippie form. The Hippie movement was inspired by the quest for an alternate way of living, where an individual could drop out of society and focus on the spiritual life, instead of being a slave to money.

The hippie look is generally thought of as having long hair, beads, bare feet of sandals and bell-bottoms. However, just about anything was worn as long as it was loose-fitting and had an ethnic look. Women wore inexpensive and colourful clothing made from Indian or African cottons that were made into long skirts, shawls and ‘peasant’ blouses. Men wore similar, but would often wear jeans and eastern-inspired tunics.

This decade was one of social change and acceptance was a key aspect. This acceptance was of religion, race, beliefs and appearance.

During the entire decade, Carnaby Street in London was considered the Mecca for those following fashion trends and young people flocked here to be engulfed with the trendy and swinging London style. San Francisco was the American equivalent, whilst in Australia, capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne were the place to go.

I have researched in a number of different ways. I have used the Internet, searching for images of 60s fashion and also accounts and histories of this time. I have researched in books, including 20th Century Fashion by Kitty Powe-Temperley and another book by the same name, but by Eleanor Van Zandt. I have also browsed encyclopaedias and reference material about fashion, clothing and costuming, at a public library. I have watched a few movies that are set in the 60s, such as an early James Bond film and also the Austen Powers movies. However, the most helpful and important source of inspiration and knowledge that I used was to talk to people who were around and involved in fashion during this period. This included my grandmother and some older friends of my parents, who were very helpful and detailed in their accounts and descriptions of fashions, fads and styling from this period in time.

My designs were inspired by the earlier part of this decade, rather than the hippie time. I have incorporated a sophisticated style in my garments, which can be worn today, and look trendy and stylish. I have merged the 60s influence with current trends so that the garments and accessories don’t look strange and out of place in a very fashion conscious, modern society.

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