In comparison to the conservative, family-oriented 1950’s, the “Swinging Sixties” was a time for vibrant political and social revolution. A number of dramatic changes occurred within American during this decade, to include the start of African-American acceptance and de-segregation (and the subsequent riots and famous speeches, such as Martin Luther King Jr.‘s I Have a Dream) and a greater sense of equality between men and women due to the popularization of feminist philosophy. The 1960’s was also a decade renowned for national political occurrences, such as the increasingly-pressurized Cold War, the U.S. vs. Soviet Union “Space Race”, man’s first walk on the moon, and the continuance of the 20 year-long Vietnam War.
Much in the same way as the 1960’s was home to drastic social and political changes, this revolutionary spirit was likewise reflected in the current trends and fashions. In contrast to the 1950’s, which emphasized a traditional womanly figure (full bosom, slender waist, and curvaceous hips), the 1960’s ushered in a straight, A-line silhouette and shockingly high hemlines. Necklines, such as the boat neck, turtleneck, and peter pan collar, tended to be fairly modest. This “top coverage” further emphasized the boldly short popular skirt length. Bell-shaped jackets, often with oversized double-breasted buttons and exaggerated collars and cuffs, were the ideal outerwear item for the stylish 1960’s beauty. Shoulder-grazing earrings, huge post studs, stacked bangles, and strands of chunky plastic bead necklaces were all the rage in the jewelry department. The most iconic hairstyle of the 1960’s was the towering, shellacked beehive, often wrapped with a bold scarf or headband. Makeup trends put an emphasis on the eyes with cat-eye liner, thick faux lashes, and strong eyebrows. Lips were kept nude, or given a hint of color with some shiny clear gloss or pale pink matte lipstick.
Girl of the Decade: the Teenager
Latching onto the miniskirt bandwagon with alarming alacrity, teenage girls played an enormous role in the 1960’s fashion scene. Donning a bold and colorful minidress (the shortest of which were often worn with matching bloomers for extra coverage), sassy boots, and slicked-on eyeliner, the fashionable teenage epitomized the ongoing spirit of youthful rebellion. Much akin to the 1920’s flapper, this girl wasn’t afraid to smoke, drink and have a little fun. Popular bands like The Beatles and political revolutionaries like Che Guevara stirred the minds of America’s youth to break away from conventional rules, eventually trickling down into revamping accepted clothing styles.
Style Icons of the 1960’s
Unlike previous decades, which primarily produced strictly movie-related style icons, the 1960’s ushered in an extraordinarily diverse set of fashion role models. Teenaged model Twiggy turned the tide of the ideal female silhouette from the 1950’s bombshell cures to the 1960’s waifish look. Muse to Andy Warhol, pretty young thing Edie Sedgwick was put on a pedestal for not only her raucous lifestyle, but for her mod fashion sense. First Lady Jackie Kennedy acted as a more refined style icon to older women. Her signature oversized sunglasses, patterned silk headscarves, luxurious gloves, and jaunty pillbox hats could be seen in the wardrobes of many a fashion conscious woman.
Recreating the 1960’s
The 1960’s are one of those decades where head-to-toe recreation is a huge “no-no”. Wear a minidress with huge earrings and a beehive and you’ll look like an extra from a historical film. Be sure to always pair a 1960’s fashion element with something that’s equally 21st-century style. Sport a pair of skinny jeans and a draped tunic top with eyeliner and a beehive, or combine a schoolgirl chic minidress with a leather jacket and brogues. Check out Beth Jones’s (thevintagesociety) hair and makeup tutorials and try out her cat eye and super easy beehive instructional videos.