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A Brief Fashion History Of England Part 2 - The Sixties 3

Updated on April 19, 2011
Far out man
Far out man

Hip, dig, crazy baby, yeah man, wow

By the close of the sixties, American fashion was infiltrating our shores again, this time with very colourful overtones.

The hippies 1969 Woodstock festival was about to kick off, Timothy Leary was tripping out on LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide or acid), as I think were many other people.

Everything was 'cool' or 'man' or 'heavy' and for some reason, hair got incredibly long for both sexes, headbands and beads were everywhere and what happened to wearing shoes...

or clothes for that matter?

On the airwaves, Radio One was just about two years old, Traffic, Cream, The Beach Boys, Elvis and Tom Jones were all vying for top spots and the dark suits of early in the decade were gone, replaced by tie-dyed t-shirts, big hats and The Beatles singing All You Need is Love.

The 'bell-bottomed' flares of the late 60's
The 'bell-bottomed' flares of the late 60's
Something strange happened to the Beatles...
Something strange happened to the Beatles...
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

If you're going to San Fransisco...

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Okay for some, but I don't think it would have suited me. I was androgynous enough as it was, but then I was only eight or nine anyway. I did like the long hair and the tie-dyes though.

Anyway, while Scott McKenzie was going on about going to San Fransisco, Matthew Southern Comfort were all about Woodstock (and I don't think they mean the place just north west of Oxford either).

Everything was peace and love--oh and don't forget Ban the bomb.


The hippie was a bit extreme I suppose. I mean, whoever thought of peaceful protesting?

When you think about what was going on at the time with the supposed Communist threat, the missile crisis of 1962 and people going off to fight in Vietnam, it's hardly surprising. They'd also come to realise that the propaganda of the previous decade of "Duck and Cover" was likely to be about as much good as a chocolate tea-pot.

This was a definite stand against the war machine.

Now I'm not a Communist sympathiser, but the allies did plonk huge numbers of US made intercontinental ballistic missiles in range of Moscow. America obviously didn't feel quite so comfortable with someone pointing a few back at them.

Anyway, the hippies were peace, love and stop hurting one another. Not a bad thing really at all.

However, the fact that they had a tendency towards smoking dope, taking acid and listening to John Lennon and the Plastic Ono band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, The Band, Cream, The Who, The Velvet Underground or Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, didn't sit too well with the more conservative people out there, who thought they were just copping out and that sitting around doing nothing wasn't going to stop those commie bastards from getting in.

Mary Jane seemed incredibly popular, well, I think it was, man
Mary Jane seemed incredibly popular, well, I think it was, man
Hmmm, pretty
Hmmm, pretty


Well it has to be said that it's probable that drugs had a pretty substantial influence, yet whilst people were apt to sit round, gouch out and get stoned, which makes one surprised that anything got done at all, they did seem to open their eyes to new possibilities, especially where colours were concerned.

Nevertheless, new use of colour and dying techniques brought back from India, had a marked impact upon what we perceived as acceptable--especially with regards to our clothes. It also meant that both men and women were similarly dressed and it didn't seem to matter.

It was definitely a step forward for the men as up until this point, the majority of their clothes had been pretty-well monochromatic. The in colour was always black or at best, blues or grey and God forbid, browns, but now, a new vibrancy seemed to hit the clothes they wore.

Not that everyone was up for it.

Once again, this new movement was definitely frowned upon, but that was due in the main to the drug association and even today, anything that even vaguely has anything 'hippified' attached has quite a stigma attached.

A hippy being arrested in London
A hippy being arrested in London
hippy chic
hippy chic
Hyde Park, er, yeah, man
Hyde Park, er, yeah, man
Cool, Ray
Cool, Ray
Vibrant, yeah
Vibrant, yeah

General fashions

Of course, the hippies were the extreme, but this colourful attitude did have a huge effect on the rest of fashion.

Ray Davis and his band, The Kinks went from sober dress to quite outlandish as did The Beatles. Even Mick Jagger was guilty of wearing voluminous gypsy-style shirts, trimmed with lace.

It seemed that fashion was speeding up.

It took some time for the Teddy Boy image to filter into mainstream and even five years before, the Mod bands seemed to have an impact on their followers, but few others, but now, the whole lot seemed to be catching up.

Mainstream fashion was being much quicker to jump on the bandwagon, to take those outlandish styles and perhaps tone them down for the general market.

One thing was for certain: Things would never be the same again.

In the next episode

We hit the seventies.

The mini, midi and maxi skirt lengths, dog-eared collars, v-knee flairs and crushed velvet trousers.

God, did I really wear those?

Let's not forget Glam Rock...


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    • Nick B profile imageAUTHOR

      Nick B 

      8 years ago from Normandy, France

      They say if you can remember the sixties, you weren't really there.

      Maybe that's true - at least, it must be, according to the comments :)

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      I guess all these Hubbers are too young to remember these times, because I expected a page of old-schoo remarks...maybe the memory banks of those times are a bit foggy?...The Statue of Limitations is Up guys!! Ohhh... remember "paper minis"?

    • Nick B profile imageAUTHOR

      Nick B 

      8 years ago from Normandy, France

      I can dig that.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Groovy man! Peace!


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