Key Fashion Trends from the 1960s

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This article looks at six iconic fashion trends to emerge during the 1960s.

If you admire fashion on shows like Mad Men, Pan Am and movies like The Help, you are likely to be a fan of the 1960s. The 1960s gave birth to some very interesting fashion trends. Read on for a guide to six iconic fashion trends to emerge during the 1960s.

Six iconic fashion trends from the 1960s:

1. Mini skirts

The mini skirt was first introduced during the 1960s. It was initially worn by designers like Mary Quant and models like Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. It was initially met with some shock and disapproval, but was quickly embraced by the youth culture.

2. Second hand clothing

It was during the 1960s that second hand clothing started to become trendy, rather than just an option for those less fortunate. Prior to industrialization, clothes were made by hand, so many people wore hand me downs. When sewing machines allowed for mass production, brand new clothing become within the reach of the masses. Second hand clothing was often frowned upon as only an option for the poor. With the hippie movement of the 1960s freedom of expression and environmental consciousness made second hand clothing appealing once again.

3. Baby doll dresses

Baby doll dresses fit at the bust than flare out over the stomach. They became popular during the 1960s due to movies like Baby Doll.


Prior to the 1960s T-shirts were not typically considered an appropriate item for everyday use. They were relegated to sporting pursuits like tennis and golf or worn as under garments. During the 1960s people from the modernist subculture, often referred to as mods, began wearing them as fashion items. At first polo style t-shirts were popular, but this quickly extended to more varied styles like; tie dyed t-shirts, the plain white fitted t-shirt, and t-shirts with social commentary or images.

5.Standout menswear

Throughout history menswear has been quite slow to evolve, but during the 1960s there were some quite revolutionary changes. Men began wearing their clothing in a much more tailored, body conforming way. Shirts were cut slimmer and pants were often worn tight around the thighs and then flared at the bottom. These pants were often referred to as bell bottoms, and they continued to be popular during the 1970s. Men also wore suiting in bright colors, quite a departure from the standard Black, Gray or beige. They also wore printed designs such as brocades.

Men also began wearing their hair more freely. Some men grew their hair down past their collar and others embraced Slicked back pompadour hairstyles like on the movie Grease.

6.Plastic dresses

There were many developments in fabrication during the 1960s. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic became popular because they were easy to care for and more affordable to produce. Some designers took this one step further and created dresses made from plastic that could simply be wiped clean. These dresses were typically made from vinyl or PVC. Some designers also brought out disposable paper dresses, but these did not take off as much, because their ability to tear meant they posed a modesty problem.


Watson, L. Twentieth Century Fashion, Carlton Books, 2003, London.

Brett, C. The history of pants. Australian Stitches Sewing secrets no. 2, Express publications 1999, p. 73.

Style icons-The Australian women’s weekly, December 1999.

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Posted on Jan 10, 2012
James R. Coffey
Posted on Jan 6, 2012