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Seven Style Symbols of the Early 1960s

Updated on June 17, 2014

A fabulous era for fashion & style

Between the buttoned-up "Father Knows Best" 1950s and the beard-and-bell-bottom 1970s was an incredible decade for fashion: the Sixties. It was one of the most exciting, diverse times in style history: Contrast Jackie O's neat pillbox hats circa 1961 with Janis Joplin's headscarves, beads & feathers in the latter part of the decade.

I find all of it fascinating and fun, but I think my favorite part is the early 1960s. In that period, style--like music--retained some classic or traditional influences while hinting at the revolutionary changes to come.

Here, some key elements of early '60s fashion, modeled by the era's coolest fashion icons.

[image: Jean-Luc Godard from A bout de souffle (Breathless), 1960]

1. The Pixie Haircut

Jean Seberg (at top, in the intro) rocked this close-cropped cut in Jean-Luc Godard's famous 1960 film A Bout de Souffle (Breathless). Audrey Hepburn was arguably the most famous pixie pusher. Icons like Twiggy and Mia Farrow took the cut into the later '60s, proving this look had legs. It's not for everyone (I could never wear it as an adult, although I had this cut for about 15 minutes back in 1969, at age 3!). But when it works, it works. A giant among sixties hairstyles.

2. The Tailored Suit

In the early 1960s, every well-dressed woman wanted to look like Jackie Kennedy, pictured here during her tenure as First Lady (1961-63). And to achieve that she needed a suit--preferably a pastel one with a short, boxy jacket and oversized buttons. For guys, the Beatles were rock'n'role models in their skinny, mod-ish matching suits.

3. Bangs

Early '60s French pop singer Francoise Hardy was a vision in streamlined style: boy-cut trousers with little sweaters, boots, jackets...a look that influences designers like Nicolas Ghesquiere to this day. And her eyebrow-grazing bangs still hang like a hipster flag on millions of 20something women.

(image: amazon.com -- see "Set the Mood" for info)

4. Clamdiggers

I'm a charter member of the I Hate Capri Pants club, but I have to admit, cropped trousers can look good on a select group of women (alas, myself not included). Basically you've gotta channel the young Mary Tyler Moore--in attitude and physique; keep the cut fitted thru the leg; and take the crop closer to the ankle than the knee.

(image: amazon)

5. The Miniskirt

Arguably the best known symbol of 1960s style is the Mary Quant mini skirt. There's some debate about whether London designer Quant really invented the style, although she does appear to have named it -- after her favorite car, the Mini. Whatever its genesis, the miniskirt got a big boost from model Jean Shrimpton, who made waves at the '65 Melbourne Cup Carnival (above) in a shift-style minidress that would soon be ubiquitous.

6. Ballet Flats

Like all fans of cute but comfy shoes, I owe a staggering debt of gratitude to Audrey Hepburn, who helped popularize the ballet flat. Still going strong after all these years, it's a wardrobe staple for fashion-inclined females of all ages. Leg-elongating pointed toe flats are particularly early '60s-ish.

(image copyright Capitol Pictures CAP/PLF)

7. The Bikini

Gotta end with a bang, right?? Although it was invented way back in 1946, the bikini really took off with the release of Beach Party, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, in 1963. The scandalous suit also got tons of publicity from young bombshell Brigitte Bardot, who used it more or less as a uniform on St. Tropez.

>->->->->->->->->Bonus! Spot the "mini-trends" on this page<-<-<-<-<-<-<-<-< <-<-<

Taking another look at the photos, I spy a bunch...

peter-pan collars, horizontal stripes, oversized sunglasses, gingham...

look the part

Try some iconic Jackie O sunglasses, now offered by a bona fide quality brand rather than just novelty ones (yea!)...

slim, cropped pants (Jackie put Lilly Pulitzer prints like this on the map too!)..

early 60s dress
early 60s dress

a demure but vibrant little peter-pan-collared dress...

a pretty pointed toe flat...

or a Beach Blanket Bingo style high waisted bikini

to tommy from zooey collection
to tommy from zooey collection

Tommy + Zooey ~ Keeping the Early 60s Alive

Arguably the top torch-bearer for early sixties style today is New Girl's Zooey Deschanel, who sported much of her new mod-nautical design collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger in a recent episode of the show. (Much more successful product placement than that bizarre Prince episode, IMHO.)

Some of the looks are already sold out, but there are some great early 60s looks still left, including cute variations on colorblock shifts. The buttons are a sweet touch. All aboard!

set the mood

Books & movies to transport you back to the early '60s

The Francoise Hardy collection is one of my favorites. If I'm having people over for dinner & serving anything remotely French, it's the perfect soundtrack.

"Mad" for Sixties Style

People showcased the "huge" fashion impact of AMC's "Mad Men"--set in the early '60s--in its September 28 '09 issue. Banana Republic even launched a Mad Men clothing line and corresponding ad campaign. Wasp-waisted, full-skirted dresses--like the one on actress January Jones, at right--were a super-feminine flipside to the streamlined sheaths also big at the time.

Missed it? Catch up!

Carey On

Carey Mulligan won an Oscar nom for her lead role in "An Education", set in early 1960s London. As a gifted teen whose road to Oxford University takes a detour when she begins an affair with a man twice her age, Mulligan is a perfect fit for the era's fresh, streamlined styles.

Do you incorporate any early '60s style elements into your look? Which do you love? Hate? Who's your favorite icon from the era? Or hey, just say anything ;) Thanks for the visit!

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    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 years ago

      I was a teenager in the 60s but lived away from the swinging towns! And my parents were not set to let 60s fashion reign in their house. My father had a row with my brothers who wanted to have their hair a la Beatles - it wasn't allowed! I would not wear a mini skirt for a long time. it felt too "exposed", but my parents didn't mind us listening to pop music, so Beatles songs got played a lot in the house (on the radio) and in the car. Transistor radios were just coming in for people to be able to listen to the radio outside, no cassette players and no one had ever heard of personal computers and DVDs and CD players. :)

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 4 years ago

      this lens has good reference for those who are attending sixties theme party :-)

    • Socialpro54 LM profile image

      Socialpro54 LM 4 years ago

      I love the pictures

    • profile image

      nognat 4 years ago

      Really like your post. Good choice of info!

    • danijelak5 profile image

      Danijela 4 years ago from Serbia

      My favourite icon from this era is Brigitte Bardot. She is the best fashion icon in the world.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @JeffGilbert: hmm, I just checked on etsy &amp; only saw 2 pair, both from the 70s. missed that trend!

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      My girlfriend is enamored of a lot of the looks from that time. As a guy, the one thing I can't find from those times are mohair pants. Great lens!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just so you all know, bikinis are actually an ancient invention; there is an ancient mosaic (Greek?) with pictures of girls in bikinis - I saw it on televsion years ago, prrobably a documentary.

    • kuadal profile image

      kuadal 5 years ago

      great lens , simple concept i think for sixties style , and more mature and elegant , Michelle Obama match for this style , mommy but elegant

    • junie12 profile image

      junie12 5 years ago

      This lens is great! I loved the sixties style, my daughter does too, that says something about the fabulous clothes and hairstyles that today's generation love as well!

    • nickybutler profile image

      nickybutler 5 years ago

      Absolutely love this lens! Cannot get enough of the sixties :D Some lovely photos too :)

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      @Annbulance2000: really? did not know about the cowbell trend. was it like this? http://www.etsy.com/listing/78961663/vintage-50s-6...

      also didn't know Biba carried rulers! not a bad place for back-to-school shopping, eh??

    • profile image

      vintagebaby 5 years ago

      loved your lens and images, a fun read, thanks!

    • Annbulance2000 profile image

      Annbulance2000 5 years ago

      I loved the sixties. Mum and I went to Biba in London. I would have been about 10 years old. It seemed very modern and exciting.I remember buying a ruler for school, some incense and a cowbell. everyone was wearing cowbells.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I love Jackie!

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 5 years ago

      I didn't realise my choice in clothes is very 60ish, as what is see here (sans the tailored suits), is what I wear. I'm wearing a shift style mini-dress today (just above the knee, not mini-mini), I really like capris and clamdiggers (they do well on me), I have long hair and keep bangs (the pixie is not for me), I just pulled a couple of wasp-waisted, full skirted dresses out of my closet yesterday....you get the picture. There is an online retro store in Oregon called Rustyzipper, and I dream over the 60s period clothes. This is a great lens. I love Audrey Hepburn. She was such a natural beauty.

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 5 years ago from USA

      Fantastic lens! Audrey Hepburn was truly a fashion influence.

    • crazy anna profile image

      crazy anna 5 years ago

      I love the style of this era, spot on &lt;3

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 5 years ago

      I love (and wear) bangs! This lens brought back some great memories. Thank you so much for liking and blessing my "Cell Phones are a Public Nuisance" Lens. :)

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      The 60s influences have always been a favorite of mine too.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Blessed!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      A beautiful lens about a beautiful era featuring some true 60s beautiful women.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Back to bless this! Girls also wore Go Go Boots!

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      @tvyps: maybe I need to expand the list to 10??

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I thought for sure that June Cleaver's pearls would've made the top ten!

    • kimark421 profile image

      kimark421 5 years ago

      Great lens! I was just a kid and didn't pay attention much to the style changes in the sixties, but your lens still brought back some memories. Thanks!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      Great Lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens. I grew up in the 60s and your lens is a trip down memory lane!

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 6 years ago

      I remember the 60's and how the styles changed from 1960 to 1969. What a decade it was.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      I wear bangs--always have. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Ah, Jean Seberg and Françoise Hardy... Beautiful women with lots of style.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I liked the bell bottoms and sheath dresses that were so popular in the 60s.

      Blessed by a Squid Angel**

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love those days.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love those days.

    • ScareYouDiva profile image

      ScareYouDiva 6 years ago

      I love the really sleek hairstyles

    • profile image

      atomicgirl24 6 years ago

      I love the early 1960s, even though I was born a decade too late!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      The 60's sense of style was so fantastic - I love it.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 6 years ago from Chicago area

      @jamesnodturft: Good idea! Will have to look into that. The eyes certainly were done up, weren't they?

    • profile image

      jamesnodturft 6 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of Mad Men so I love this lens. One thing I think you could add is the makeup trends. Women's faces were so distinctive in the sixties: Liquid eyeliner, white lips, etc.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      brings back memories....How about white socks with black dress pants and black shoes. Shoes and belt must be the same color. Thin ties, starched white shirts, french cuffs and cuff links, fedora hats, cardigan sweaters...well you get the idea.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      I was too young to wear a miniskirt, but I remember the 60s (I was also too young to get into any trouble lol). Thanks for the memories :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA+++++++++++++++. Nice Squid Lens. Chris

    • profile image

      erica38 6 years ago

      Fabulous lens. The dresses Michelle O is wearing look more 60's modern stye which I like alot. I like the pixie cut, so much easier to manage.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      1. Bring back the flats! I won't wear these shoes now a days.

      2. Those clam diggers of MTM's were a HUGE deal. She was the first sitcom wife/mom who wore pants, but she insisted on it! She said that is what housewives were wearing at home and no one would buy the doing house work in dress and pearls any more. These were a compromise, but there was all sorts of 'not to tight' etc stuff

    • profile image

      aliki-m 6 years ago

      Great lens!!Love the pixie cut!!

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 6 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: One-piece, you mean? Maybe "romper"? Just a guess.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Can someone tell me what we called the little shorts suit we wore in the 60's?

    • profile image

      teatree 7 years ago

      I love ballet flats too. I find it hard to walk in heels.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I remember these clothes, and the hair, but I actually was a little later and more in the 70's hippie clothing era.Love it~

    • LeorG profile image

      LeorG 7 years ago

      Very cool lens. Something so stylish about the 60s!

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      How in the world have I missed this lens until now? Oh I love this! When I was a little kid in the 60's my mother always had my hair cut in a pixie. When I was a teenager, like Pastiche, I am guilty of actually ironing my hair, with a laundry iron!

      Big Squid Angel blessing and featured on Pay It Forward - My Life As An Angel.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      Yes, the skinny look didn't become popular until Twiggy came on the scene. Lensrolled to my Colleen Corby lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What a fun trip down memory lane! Love the 60s styles. Ringing my Squid Angel bell with a blessing.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I struggled with curly hair in the sixties - stick straight and pixie cuts were all the rage. I even resorted to using the laundry iron to try to get the kinks out! Another 60s trend worth noting - women weren't rail thin to be considered attractive (the Bardot bikini pic reminded me that size 10 was considered ideal back then). Fun lens!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I LOVE the fashion of the 60s. Each decade in the 20th century had an amazing style to it....except the 1990s. The 90s had no style at all.

    • juzd lm profile image

      juzd lm 7 years ago

      Really awesome work. I like this! Great research.

    • profile image

      Sojourn 7 years ago

      I always wanted to be Audrey Hepburn. Was she cute or what?! And I never knew those pants were called clamdiggers (I can't wear those capri pants, either). Really nice overview of the most popular style trends of the 60s!

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      Nice women!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      I wasn't around in the 60s but I love anything related to that decade! This lens is a delightful read, *blessed by an angel*

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Great job - I remember these! Blessed by an Angel - add your lens to my plexo on my angel lens.

    • profile image

      modelde 8 years ago

      "I say your blog is very nice. Gisele Bundchen, Kate Moss, Adriana Lima &amp; Co owe success, wealth and fame of her beauty and her charisma. They are among the most sought-after supermodels in the world are on the catwalks of Paris, Milan and New York home and wrap their flawless bodies in the noblest of noble designer creations.

      http://www.model.de."

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      My favorite icon from the era is sixties super model Colleen Corby. Lensrolled to my lens about her.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      When you (the author of this lens) visited my "Take a Fashion Trip To the Sixties" lens, you left a comment about how nicely these two fit together. I agree and am returning the favor of a 5 star, and a lensroll! I will probably feature this lens as well.

      Thanks and a good job was done on this lens.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      and GO-GO boots! remember those silly white things were ALL the rage for awhile. VERY creative work here. 5*s!

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 8 years ago

      Great lens! I really enjoyed looking through all your pictures.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      thank you!! [in reply to KimGiancaterino]

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Excellent photo choices! Blessed and featured on my Squid Angel Diary this week.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Wonderful compilation of the times from a fashion column point of view....perfect theme for the lens, too! Love it!!!5*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Fantastic job you captured this era well.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

      A hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this trip down memory lane. Long, long ago... :-)

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Beautiful job! Love the photos! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 8 years ago

      Really great photos and you captured all of the significant trends of that time. Nice job!

    • SherryHolderHunt profile image

      SherryHolderHunt 8 years ago

      Love this lens and am rolling it to my decade lens Muscle Cars of the 1960s Era

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      Audrey Hepburn was a beauty. The styles in this era were so "nice". I'm so glad that the flats are still a staple in my house. I have to laugh because I still have bangs sometimes :) This was really fun! Great lens!

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Really cool lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Fun lens! I like the bangs too for the same reasons as theraggedge, great for hiding those wrinkles! The miniskirt is funny, now a days that would be considered long!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Do you know that bangs keep trying to come back. Nice work!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      Probably the only thing I could still wear the is pictured on your lens and look ok are the ballet flats:) Great lens

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

      nicely done. love the pixie.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      Judging from your avatar, you look awesome in bangs! I've had 'em on and off in varying lengths, so I guess I'm a "fringe" girl too ;) I remember my older cousins' plaid minis as the pinnacle of glamor...

    • profile image

      myraggededge 8 years ago

      Had the bangs (we call it a 'fringe') all my life - great for hiding forehead wrinkles! I was a child in the 60s and remember my mother in her minis. She was (and is) so beautiful!