My Favourite Fashion Decade: The '60s

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It's not very cool to love the '60s, is it? Thanks to that guy at every house party who earnestly explains the genius of The Beatles at 4am, those who wear flower crowns and crochet at Glastonbury wishing it were Woodstock, and the naff peace sign-emblazoned outfits sold at fancy dress shops, the decade hasn't aged particularly well in our collective consciousness. But I'm here, in spite of all these caricatures, to tell you that the 1960s was in fact the best decade for fashion.
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Let's address the hippies first. Admittedly, their style wasn't my favourite (with the exception of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin), but we actually owe a lot to the free-loving, mind-expanding subculture. Tie-dye (see Burberry's SS18 rainbow-dyed puffer), bell bottoms (tell me you're not wearing kick-flare denim or cords right now) and a penchant for organic fabrics (hello, sustainable fashion) are all elements of our current fashion landscape, and can be directly traced to the gender-shirking, sexually liberated hippies. Their rejection of consumerism also led to a more individualistic approach to style, which we still revere today. It pains me that this group are the poster kids for the '60s when so much else was born out of that decade.
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Which brings me to 'youthquake', the term coined by Vogue's Diana Vreeland to signal the moment the post-war notion of the teenager really came alive, when kids began establishing their own cultures and identities. We wouldn't have punk, grunge, or today's 'Supremacists' if it weren't for the teens of the '60s who shunned the staid couture houses in favour of style born out of the Kings Road and Carnaby Street boutiques. Previously, that age group dressed as mini versions of their parents, which is perhaps the least cool thing you can think of when you're a teen. The '60s saw the youth kick back against tradition and confinement, changing the course of youth and fashion culture forever.
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Of course, the most famous faces of this movement were gamine model Twiggy, doe-eyed Jean Shrimpton (my take-to-the-hairdressers fringe icon), and the otherworldly Penelope Tree; their lithe limbs ideal for showcasing Mary Quant and André Courrèges' liberating and iconic mini skirt. These women also represent the first successful use of It Girls as advertising tools; without them we wouldn't have the Jenners and Hadids of today – just another way the decade has shaped our fashion landscape. Key pieces from the time? Psychedelic prints, shift dresses, colour-pop hosiery (Balenciaga SS17, anyone?) and bright faux fur (hiya Shrimps, Charlotte Simone, and Jakke); my inner peacock is salivating.
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Just before the Swinging Sixties came the mods. In the '50s, 'modernists' were a group of slick kids who listened to modern jazz but by the '60s the movement was more focused around European style (think French and Italian suiting and polo shirts), Lambrettas, and soul, ska and R&B. My favourite thing about the mods is that their sartorial outlook was, in the words of The Who's manager Peter Meaden, "clean living under difficult circumstances". This meant looking as sharp and sophisticated as you could within your means. Thanks to the mods, tailored suits, embellished scooters and clean haircuts were no longer just for the wealthy. They were considered effeminate by their rivals, the 'rockers', because of their preening and attention to detail, but I'm a sucker for a man who puts care (and flare) into his style. By the mid '60s, the mod style had gone from working class subculture to mass market, and Carnaby Street became more of a tourist attraction than genuine hang-out.
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But the '60s had so much more going for them than these youth-oriented, subcultural phenomena. They saw the birth of the two-piece bikini, women in trousers and shirts, Cher in her bohemian days. Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn presented a refined and sophisticated look, all pillbox hats, pastel hues and skirt suits, while the Nouvelle Vague film scene had Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard repping French style at its finest. The Cold War's space race had a huge impact on aesthetics, with André Courrèges' SS64 look introducing futuristic fabrics and space-age shapes to the catwalk. Vinyl go-go boots, sky-high hair and silver shift dresses were the order of the day, as seen in sci-fi film Barbarella, starring the incredible Jane Fonda.
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Then there was the rock'n'roll glamour of the girlfriends of musicians in the late '60s. Rumour has it that Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman came up with the term 'groupies' to denote the beautiful women who flanked the stars on tour. It's obviously a shitty way to describe these women – who were most likely as into the music as they were the musicians – but regardless, they're some of my favourite style icons from the decade. Take the devastatingly gorgeous German-Italian actress Anita Pallenberg, who dated both Brian Jones and Keith Richards (and, apparently, had a fling with Mick Jagger during their time on the set of Performance in 1968). All shaggy fur coats and mini skirts paired with thigh-high boots and feather boas, she was effortlessly cool and inspires women like Kate Moss and Alexa Chung to this day. Singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull, who dated Jagger during the '60s, oozed the undone sexiness of the time, donning suits, face-concealing sunglasses and feathers with aplomb.
The 1960s can't be defined by one look, group or aesthetic – and that's what makes it so exciting to look back on. Once you see past the peace signs and endless photographs of Twiggy, you'll find much more in what I believe to be the 20th century's most exciting decade.