1960’s fashion: music, miniskirts and Mary Quant

I’ve recently been doing a lot of research into the 1960’s fashion movements and the construction of how these styles came about and for what reasons, and since I’ve been so infatuated with the decade as a whole, I thought I’d share some of the key subjects that influenced womenswear of this time.

The 60’s saw a fashion focus on the younger generations, particularly on the teenage youth, as the change in music styles had also influenced them to desire clothes that they could move around in. The rising popularity of rock bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, went hand in hand with the frenzy of teenage girls that wanted to be with them and boys who wanted to be them.

Young girls didn’t want to dress as children anymore, and the older styles like Dior’s ‘New Look’ didn’t necessarily offer them much freedom physically, and thus this is where items such as the mini skirt were introduced. The super short manifestation was a bold style, suited to females who enjoyed the freedom of movement, or even to those who were heavily outspoken for women gaining a stronger role in society, in which the miniskirt was a modern style that didn’t fit the typical housewife agenda of the decade prior.

As the hemline was raised it became awkward to wear the traditional stockings, and so full length tights in bright block colours became the new fashion to suit this modern, youthful look. Mary Quant was a key designer for British youth at this time (and is also one of my personal favourite designers to this day) due to her recognition of young girls styling themselves and further feeding back what she saw them wearing in the streets, by supplying them with items such as these block coloured tights in a whole array of colours, which further formed this unique relationship between designer and customer.

Mary Quant was not the only important character in the 60’s love story, as who could forget about Twiggy? In her early days she was often compared to the equally beautiful Jean Shrimpton, who was seen to have more of a mature and classic feel than the young Twiggy, who at first had went by her real name Lesley Hornby. It was once her iconic pixie cut style was created, taking a whole 8 hours of bleaching and trimming in the House of Leonard salon in Wayfair, that ‘Twiggy’ was born.

Her super short cut and her doe eyes that she further brought out with defined eyeshadow, set a modern style for girls to recreate in their own way, to which obviously Mary Quant had supplied with her own makeup collections. Her makeup ranges included palettes that contained everything a girl could need in one item, including miniature brushes for girls to touch up with wherever they go, maybe on the way to a Beatles concert?

The youth quake of the 60’s has fascinated me a lot recently, as the parallels with not just the fashion industry today but society itself is undeniable. Social media helps to fuel our fearlessness of self expression and standing up for what is right, as the many many online movements since it’s birth is too many to count. Brands turn more towards street style and what the customer is wearing, which has usually been found second hand, as the superior fashion houses are lacking in imagination and awareness of what young people today actually want. And thus, history repeats itself.

Thanks for reading through this little homage to the 60’s, I hope you enjoyed it and even maybe learnt something new about this influential decade!

Sophie x

New Romantics: would you dress up as a nun on a night out?

Shifting from the punk movement, the 80’s youth still felt neglected by Thatcher’s political agenda and the people involved in this climate. They wanted escapism from this unwelcoming society, without the politics or aggressive tone of the punks. They wanted to fantasise and dress-up without anyone telling them they couldn’t. Thus came the New Romantic period.

Founded within London’s nightclubs such as ‘The Blitz’ and ‘Billy’s’ where popular New Romantic artists like David Bowie and Duran Duran were played, youngsters pushed for a night of fun and extravagance that let them enjoy some time away from their day to day lives. Where instead of being a nobody in a general public, they could be anyone they wanted to be within a club of 70.

Whether it be a nun with 2 foot crimped hair or a pirate with a taste for pink eyeshadow, there were no limitations on what was suitable. There was no gender, background or expectations, it was all just expression and enlightenment. This freedom was what they lacked in the punk period. They no longer wanted to wear a t-shirt of the Queen with crude graffiti on it, they wanted to forget the t-shirt all together and dress in something completely unrelated to any person of political hierarchy.

The styles of the individuals attending these nightclubs were often inspired by the glam rock era and the early romantic period of the late 18th century/early 19th century. People were often characterised by flamboyant and eccentric fashion boutiques such as PX in London and Kahn & Bell in Birmingham, which helped them to explore this new style that had never been played around with before for everyday use.

It’s quite ridiculous to believe that this shift in styles even developed from the punk movement, yet to think that it even existed at all is quite remarkable for the 1980’s. To this day designers still look to this era of fashion for some current day escapism from the same old designs and themes that the industry whacks out each season.

If there’s anything you should take from this post, I’d say to think about the possibility of a reincarnation of the New Romantics era that we could be experiencing right now. No we might not be going out dressed as Jesus or using white face paint as foundation, but the sudden surge of maximalist styles and themes is undeniable.

Festival wear has turned from comfort clothes to every girl needing to find a new outfit that nobody else in a field of 20,000 will have. Drag shows are more popular than ever now. The Met Gala is more anticipated than any fashion week all year round because of how imaginative, unwearable yet artistic it is.

So, do I think we’re going into a maximalist period? Definitely. Will the New Romantic era play a more dominant role in future influences in style, make-up and art? Quite possibly. Are we in need of some imagination and fun in this dull fashion industry? 100%.

Thanks for reading this quick discussion on new romantic style, I was wanting to write something as a form of stress relief so I thought I’d combine it with a topic that I was looking at for my uni work. I’ll be sure to see you again soon with another fun topic, but be sure to let me know if you’d like more history based themes like this!

Thanks again,

Sophie x