1960’s Fashion

Choose any decade in recent history and describe how ‘Style’ defined the period- 1960’s Emergence from the devastation that hit Britain during the Second World War, Britain in the 60’s was one that broke many fashion traditions, generated new social movements and defined the period with its style. “There was to be an end to the age of shoddy, to the post-war period of ‘making do’… swinging London was confident enough now to wage a war of independence. ” (Jackson, 1998 p35)
The post war industrial boom was affecting lifestyles and in particular, it was the the Youth culture that benefitted mostly from this shift in movement. There was emphasis on the youth and ‘The Look’ that began to displace the ‘New look’ of the post war period. Becoming more open minded, independent and culturally aware were all things that the youth began to adopt, along with disposable income. Benefits from the post war industrial boom encouraged this new attitude towards money and the way it could be spent. …commercial success stories, many related to retailing of one sort of another, with fashion and home furnishings being at the fore front of the consumer revolution. Because this was a time of virtually full employment and economic prosperity, consumers had more money to spend than ever before. ” (Jackson, 1998, p35) The style and attitude towards fashion had changed, and it became a passion rather then a necessity. Music in the 60’s had a strong influential bond with fashion and style that had never been so closely linked.
This unison created distinctive style of dress, developing from Beatnik, Teddy Boys and Mods. The attitude towards style had become very open and people began to gain confidence in their own development of sense of style. “… music and attitudes that could be understood at a glance. And the freedom that fashion allowed in the sixties meant that everyone could dress up. ” (Connikie, 1990, p7) The Beatles were the band that represented the forefront of men’s fashion. They developed styles for each new record release and in 1963 they had portrayed the distinctive collarless Cardin Suits and collar-length hair.

This recognisable hair cut became instantly noticeable in the youth culture. “…became a universal sign of rebellious youth. ” (Connikie, 1990, p36) The Beatles also adopted a similarity to the “mod’ style, however denied connections with the culture as they wanted to appeal to all, the music and the culture both interrupted Britain at the similar time. Before the Mods culture emerged in Britain, former sub cultures such as Teddy Boys built the bridges to allow people to challenge style and create a culture.
Teddy boys also lead the way for a growing male interest in fashion, making it socially acceptable. “…male interest in fashion in Britain was mostly associated with the underground homosexual subculture’s flamboyant dressing styles” (Mod subculture, website, 2010) These cultures would have developed from the New Romantics as they became more out spoken and familiar. As the subcultures faded in the early 1960’s, the Mod style, short for ‘Moderns’ were prime examples of what the Swinging Sixties were classed as: youth, mobility, fashion and a strong interest in music.
The majority of people who adopted this culture were young adults. The styles included; the Harrington jacket, Fishtail green parka, polo shirts, turtle necks, roll necks, slim fitting, high collared shirts, loafers, dessert boots, tailored 60’s jacket and straight leg trouser or jeans. They would drive scooters as it was an easy accessible mode of transport, it became a distinctive part of the culture, all based around style and the overall look. The attitudes around this culture was desirable to the youth but could be described as troublesome for others.
Rifts between the Mods and Rockers caused public display of violence in Brighton 1964, the riot scene was recreated in the film ‘Quadrophenia’, produced by the classic cult band of the period, The Who, who were popular with the Mods. Mods were seen as usually city dwellers with well paid office jobs and looked presentable, whereas Rockers tended to be rural, and classed as out of touch, oafish and grubby. This style clash shows the importance of the cults and how important being united together was.
It also shows how influential style could become. Styles changed slightly throughout the Mod culture and it adopted a new Italian/ French style, introduced a smooth, sophisticated look that enhanced the tailor made feel. Crew necks, pointed toe leather shoes were a few additions to the culture. Due to this style, a period of pushing boundaries and experimentation was nigh. The use of recreational drugs was something that the culture influenced. Nicknamed ‘purple hearts’ Mods would use the drug when out at night to get a buzz and stimulation. Mods used amphetamines to extend their leisure time into the early hours of the morning and as a way of bridging the wide gap between their hostile and daunting everyday work lives and the ‘inner world’ of dancing and dressing up in their off-hours. ” (Mod subculture, website, 2011) Some male Mods experimented with challenging the social gender norms by wearing makeup to enhance their appearance and women began to substitute an androgynous style of wearing clothes. Hair was being cut short, the wear of men’s garments and little make up worn.
This obsession Mods had with clothes and styles allowed acceptance to the idea of experimentation and added a sense of rebellion to social norms. Attitudes towards women in the Mod culture were also influential, young mod men accepted the idea that women did not have to be attached to a man and that they can become independent and have a source of income etc. This presentable image was said to make non-subculture aspects of life easier and more equal to that of the male Mods.
Miniskirts defined the period of change in the attitude towards the length of women’s clothing and how much reveal is accepted. This initial style pushed the boundaries and as a result has changed the attitude ever since. “Female Mods pushed the boundaries if parental tolerance with their miniskirts, which got progressively shorter between the early and mid 1960’s” (Mods subculture, website, 2011) Models such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were pinnacle to the fashion industry during the 1960’s.
They promoted and exposed the new changing styles across the world, and in tern became a face of the period. Their style defined the period and Twiggy’s famous face is one that we automatically link to that of the 60’s. “With her waif like figure, boyish hair cut and striking eye lashes she created an image that would epitomise an era. Twiggy became the idol for millions of teenage girls of the sixties revolution. ” (Twiggy Lawson, website, 2008) She was one of the first supermodels and was/is an icon of the period.
Mary Quant, a quintessential designer in the 60’s, made keeping up with trends inexpensive and accessible to all young girls in the period. She popularised the mini skirt and became essential for developing the Mod-girl image. She also became a defining person of the 1960’s and changed shopping experiences and attitudes to style by opening up a divergent store offering new cutting edge and orginal designs. These hand tailored designs had became desirable as each one was unique and became very popular with the youth culture. Design alone could not have brought about the revolution in taste and lifestyle that happened during the 1960’s’ the key figure of the decade were the popularisers, those who actively and directly promoted ‘the look’ and made it available to a mass audience. ” (Jackson, 1998, p36) The British youth fashion was a lucrative market and Quant along with partner Alexander Plunket Greene opened a retail store in the Kings road called Bazaar. She designed and edited garments that became very desirable to the youth culture as it was accessible and new, in creating this idea Quant became a brand in herself.
Mods were very conscious about clothing and buying the classic items. Gaining inspiration from the cults, Quant enhanced the promotion of them. In 1965 she wrote “It is the Mods… who gave the dress trade the impetus to break through the fast-moving, breathtaking, uprooting revolution in which we have been a part since the opening of Bazaar. ” (Jackson, 1998, p43) This shows that style generated by cults, were particularly a large influence to help define the period and possible retail future. ’The Look’ which she created was part of a wider movement encompassing photography, graphics and pop music along with domestic design, she was keenly aware of the significance of fashion in particular in pioneering change, and in leading and defining a shift in social attitudes. “ (Jackson, 1998, p43) the attitudes had become more relaxed and people wanted this to be shown through what they wear. Their attitude towards the clothes themselves and the idea of spending money had also changed. Because this was a time of virtually full employment and economic prosperity, consumers had more money to spend then ever before. ” (Jackson, 1998, p35) Along with this designer, the male revolution and attitude towards style had also changed and shopping as an experience was one that in particular men enjoyed to. John Stephen owned 10 stores down Carnaby Street by 1966. Each store had a different feel and different name. These stores became a busy, exciting place to go and shopping became a leisurely past time, where as before it was a necessity-based experience.
This encouraged the Mods, and people became to buy into the lifestyle they lead. These stores were the first to play music, allowing dancing, trying on, alterations and became a desired social experience. ‘Swinging London in 1966, what people were most interested in was shopping… Shopping became a primary leisure activity for young people, along with watching television and listening to pop music. Shopping was also an avenue for the expression of popular culture, both in terms of what was now being sold, and through the way shops were designed. ’ (Jackson, 1998, p36) “That the fashion for shopping was perceived as being central to the revitalization of design in Britain…’Carnaby street’ was widely used as a generic term for a particular type of design: brash, brightly coloured, with highly decorated surfaces, including the ubiquitous union jack. ” (Jackson, 1998, p37) Carnaby street developed into a ‘virtual fashion parade’ (1960’s in Fashion, website, 2011) and said to sell not only clothes but also an attitude and was a key characteristic of innovation, iconoclasm and fun. They echoed the prevailing spirit of sexual and political revolution…. Carnaby Street became synonymous with the idea of Swinging London. Using the skills of established Soho ‘rag trade’, it sold relatively inexpensive, trend-driven merchandise that mirrored contemporary changes in society and culture. ” (V&A, Fashion in 1960’s, website, N. D) And was said to have ‘pulled the rug from under contemporary or modern” (Hillier, 1998, p188) This generated look and concept about shopping was seen as an enjoyable past time was a desirable experience from other countries outside Britain.
The consumer revolution had given Britain a new look, Post war “Britain shed it fusty, olde-worlde image, and ‘swinging London’, with it Beatlemania and Rolling Stones, its Carnaby Street and mini-skirts and Chelsea boutiques, became a world influence in lifestyle and fashion. ” (Hillier, 1998, p162) This defines the power Britain had to influence style in other countries, it was gaining a name in fashion and beginning to become a culture associated with Britain. The term ‘Youthquake’ was used to describe the shift in attitudes towards style and shopping.
It had defined the prosperity of future Britain and therefore defined this period as a statement that is very eminent. There was a consumer revolution as shopping experiences changed. “The restrictive conventions and judgemental attitude of earlier decades were challenged… shopping had a major impact on peoples lifestyles: by making available goods that people had never seen before. ” (Jackson, 1998, p36) Lifestyle shops such as Habitat were introuced, they were pinnacle to defining the period and the consumer revolution.
They had created a place where people would desire the lifestyle and living accommodations that they created visually instore. Mary Quant had influenced Terrence Conran, the founder of Habitat, as he admired young fashion designers that had challenged the norms and had drawn attention to the new market. Habitat was said to be “probably the single most important domestic design phenomenon in Britain during the 1960s. ” (Jackson, 1998, p49). Habitat was recognised across seas that had inspired particularly Americans and Scandinavians to change the way of retail and style. …in 1966 that the international media suddenly discovered the London ‘scene’ and decided that Britain has got ‘the look’ which the rest of the world wanted. ” (Jackson, 1998, p40) Pivital to this revolution was originally the Cult styles founded by the youth culture. Cult styles changed rapidly in the 1960’s, but had almost defined the period due to the influence they had caused. Due to constant shifts in style the Mods in particular had drifted away due to the changing styles, such as the Hippys. The ‘harder’ moderns were rougher and became the first ‘skinheads’, another style interpreting the period.
The consumer boom was very important in defining the period and this was lead on from the styles, the ever-changing youth Cults had created throughout the 1960’s. These styles had influenced many revolutions such as breaking social norms, effecting shopping styles among other things. Style has definitely defined the period as Britain was out of the war and ready for a new social boom, style has become instantly recognizable to the period. The cults are still guiding design now, and we recognise the period due to the style and design movements there were.
Retail and designers both use influences from periods in time and the Cult styles are reborn. Designers such as Fred Perry have adopted influences from the Mod culture with their polo shirts and jackets; this look is very widespread and has almost re created the culture in the sense that the style becomes very popular. This is available to see throughout fashion and retail and the period is still defined by the style created by the youth culture. Vintage fashion has become very apparent and people are beginning to mock different eras to show individuality. This shows the style defining periods are very much important today.

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