We in the clothing biz speak often of “fashion decades”, but here’s a little secret: there’s no such thing. Sartorial eras are hardly parceled in ten-year periods — and the 1960s, maybe more than any other time, are proof enough of that! The decade that brought us the beats and the hippies, the mods and the peaceniks, was just as diverse in fashion as its social chaos might imply. In the 1960s, getting dressed, like doing pretty much anything else, was a tug-of-war between old and new. No one knew quite who she wanted to be, and the styles of the time reflect that. Prim-and-proper ‘50s dames shook hesitant hands with their groovier proto-’70s counterparts, and the results — well, intoxicating. Keep the best of the old and wed it to the new. 1960s outfits were a glorious mash of growing pains. Here’s how to harness the 60s glamour, from Betty and Joan to Twiggy and Jean, for the modern day.
1960s Outfit- Housewife / Mad Men
Kicking off, of course, with that icon of icons: Betty Draper. The face of Mad Men style is a solid bastion of the Old Guard. While Joan and Peggy favored the beehives and sweater dresses of later ‘60s style, Betty’s look was a ‘50s throwback. Not without a ‘60s twist, of course — those headbands and button-ups were so chic it hurt. The 1960s housewife was more streamlined than her ‘50s counterpart. Dress shapes were simplifying, whittling slowly down to the sheaths the decade would make famous. Colors were lighter; hairdos were smoother. The neckline game, though, was strong as ever. Betty’s lapels on her shirtwaist dress were on point. Shop 1960s shirtwaist dresses, headbands, earrings, cardigan sweaters, and kitten heels.
1960s Outfits- The Mods
Mod girls were Flappers 2.0, and it sure shows in their clothes! The 1940s and ‘50s emphasized a slim waist and a tailored bodice; the ‘60s shook things up. High waists, low waists, no waists — all fair game and then some. The empire-waist peasant dress (we’ll get to that) is perhaps best associated with the decade, but it’s the sweater dress that’s truly classic. Streamlined, swingy, and above all, short, these knitted dresses have never really gone out of style. ‘60s girls accessorized the rather plain silhouette with downright fabulous collars and sleeves. Most skirts and dresses were paired with matching tights or tall socks, low heel shoes and sometimes a cloche hat (just like the ’20s!). And, of course, a swing coat atop it all. Shop 1960s mod dresses, tights/socks, hats and shoes.
1960s Outfits – Jackie O Style
Those classic ‘60s skirt sets — half Jackie O style, half gal-about-town, all dangerously darling. The silhouette was boxy, a departure from Dior’s more tailored New Look, but its clean lines and impeccable matching made it all woman! This look is a fun one — it’s a perfect example of the 1960s “transition” stage. The sheath dress with bow and cropped jacket maintain the class, but the booties and opaque tights keep things just mod enough. The scarf and pearl earrings, of course, are mainstays. Check out the collar, too — Peter Pan collars were huge in the ‘60s, and they’re fortunately back in style!
1960s Outfits – Boho Hippies
The latter half of the decade? Let’s call it “‘70s lite”. The bohemian look was decidedly In, but the silhouette still borrowed from the mods. Before there were granny gowns, there were the cutest little peasant dresses — Swinging London’s answer to Woodstock. Anything goes when it comes to these prints: tribal, psychedelic, folk whatever your sartorial sense desires. Not to mention some absolutely groovy sleeves! Adding plastic boots makes for an interesting mix of modernity and woodsy nostalgia; a floppy hat is, of course, quintessential. Hippie costumes remain a classic 60s party outfit year after year.
1960s Outfits – Casual Pants
It ain’t Great-Granny’s fashion show — ladies wear pants now! Cigarette pants, to be precise, which are much more pleasant than they sound. Pair that with the decade’s madness for plaid, and you’ve got quite a look. Capes and berets borrow a more rugged aesthetic, and the blouse brings it all together. Peggy wears them well, don’t you think? Shop 1960s pants and tops.
So there you have it. A handful of 1960s outfit ideas to inspire your next retro outfit or for a 60s costume party. Need help with your outfit? Just ask. Have a 1960s outfit to show off? Email us and we might add to the page to inspire others.
Article was written by Skye Makaris in collaboration with Debbie Sessions of vintagedancer.com