Monday, 6 July 2015

The Way We Wore: 60s Style

I think I made this one...
It wasn’t all Austin Powers...
Here's the 60s, seen mainly through the prism of knitting patterns. As with interior decor, everything changed around 1966.

In the early 60s we wore:

black-flecked beetle green bouclé tweed, and mohair, sometimes in plaid

very very thick knitted dresses. (Did anybody ever knit/wear them? Must have been so hot.)

big thick knitted cardigans,
worn with a knee-length straight skirt and a bubble-head hairstyle created with rollers and back-combing

buttons and belts
covered with the same material as your dress (It was called a “self” belt.)
stiff fabrics like crimplene, made into tailored clothes. Stiff hair. Tight armholes, tight collars.

stoles in warm wool
(mohair, mink) You wore them with your sleeveless evening dress designed for the central heating most English people didn’t have.

When mini skirts and mod clothes happened, we found we could adapt school gym and tennis skirts (short enough), and divided hockey skirts (right length), and blazers – by sewing on red buttons and wearing them with the rest of our groovy gear. And knee socks and Mary Janes.

beading was very in circa 1966, also big, big paillettes (because plastic was in), especially in iridescent blue on a vivid green woolly hat. (Older women didn't stop wearing hats – they kept up to date with “fun” hats. Or felt stetsons.)

In the mid-60s there was a trend for very tailored capes with Nehru collars. Initially worn by beatniks or early hippies, they quickly became tamed, and were worn only by older ladies (with a Tyrolean hat) and small children (in Welsh tweed). Welsh tweed was popular – we loved its geometric patterns and lurid colours.

all-over ribbing became a thing (“skinny rib” sweaters) with a beanie to match

lurex yarn

turquoise and lilac striped knitted dresses from M&S with straps, a dropped waist and a short knife-edge pleated tennis style skirt. (Also came in navy, green and white – and purple?)

Matching jersey/hat/scarf (worn with a cute expression).

clothes made out of stretchy towelling (Especially holiday clothes for children. In brown and turquoise, with rope detailing.)

PVC printed in bright, bright colours (Raincoats with matching souwester hats. Hot, and quickly became naff. Part of the “fun everything” trend. "Fun fur" was nylon.)

plastic geometric jewellery

stiff brocade in royal blue, beetle green and aqua
– possibly combined

Nylon lace had a moment.

Mannish shirts, and frilly and flouncy blouses were in – from the Tom Jones trend (the film came out in 1963), but combined with stiff, tailored pinafore dresses. There was also a hairstyle called a "Tom Jones": a bow tied on a ponytail at the back of the neck. It quickly became rather frumpy. Shoes also went 18th century, with square toes and buckles.Very short mini skirts went mainstream, combined with a frilly blouse and a huge beehive updo.

In the late 60s crushed velvet took over, and Twiggy went for the 30s Biba look. Cool youths dressed like extras from Game of Thrones. I'm still trying to forget.

60s decor here.


  1. I read a description in a 1960s book of a style I had completely forgotten, for young teenage girls: patterned tights worn with a sweater of the *same* pattern, with a kilt-type quite short skirt in between. Does that ring any bells? I can remember it clearly, though it was short-lived and quite esoteric....

  2. I think I have pictures somewhere! Was it a proto-onesie? Must have been incredibly hot!