NYC Fashion Of The 1960s (Gallery)

NYC Fashion of the 1960s

NYC Fashion of the 1960s featured a number of diverse trends. It was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the time. Around the middle of the decade, fashions arising from small pockets of young people in a few urban centres received large amounts of media publicity, and began to heavily influence both the haute couture of elite designers and the mass-market manufacturers. Examples include the mini skirt, culottes, go-go boots, and more experimental fashions, less often seen on the street, such as curved bad-shaped PVC dresses and other PVC clothes.

Mary Quant popularised the mini skirt, and Jackie Kennedy introduced the pillbox hat both became extremely popular. False eyelashes were worn by women throughout the 1960s. Hairstyles were a variety of lengths and styles. Psychedelic prints, neon colors, and mismatched patterns were in style. Americans of the 1960s were still entranced by Paris fashions, specifically the designs of Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior. The impact of the space-age and its sci-fi aesthetic is obvious in the design and fabrication of garments.

NYC Fashion Of The 1960s: Mary Quant
NYC Fashion Of The 1960s: Mary Quant

One of the most revolutionary designs was the miniskirt and minidress. Eschewing the prim below-the-knee skirts of the late 1950s and early 1960s, by the mid-sixties, young women were wearing skirts that fell at the upper thigh. Like the short skirts of the 1920s, the miniskirt shocked but was also a highly popular look for young women.

Along with the miniskirt came a craze for the playful, innovative use of new materials and a focus on scientific progress. Newly developed materials such as acrylics, polyesters, and shiny PVC were used in women’s clothing while designers were inspired by pop art and space, like the miniskirt in figure 10 and the dress in figure 11.

Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges debuted space-inspired designs in shades of white and silver. Laver writes, “Courrèges’ Spring/Summer 1964 ‘Space Age’ collection featured ‘astronaut’ hats and goggles, white and silver PVC ‘moon girl’ loon trousers, catsuits and white patent or kid leather, mid-calf-length boots” (264, Fig. 8). Sheath and A-line minidresses, both without defined waists, were popular silhouettes. These modern designs dominated the mid-sixties as fashion moved toward a more playful and freeing look.

While the miniskirt reached its height mid-decade, by the late 1960s, a new style and culture was emerging. Skirts dipped back to mid-calf and by 1969, the full-length maxi-skirt had emerged . This came with the move towards the “hippie” aesthetic. Elizabeth Wilson writes in Gerta Buxbaum’s Icons of Fashion: The Twentieth Century, “Between 1965 and 1967, the uncluttered, futuristic design of André Courrèges and Mary Quant – featuring short skirts, childish pinafores, and boxy shapes – were superseded by a return to the styles of Art Nouveau, Hollywood, and William Morris”. Suede, headbands, kaftans, Afghan coats, beads and other non-Western elements of adornment were embraced as were flowing skirts and secondhand clothing.

NYC Fashion Of The 1960s (Gallery) 1
NYC Fashion Of The 1960s

Both the “Mod” movement, to which Quant contributed, and the hippie movement were part of a new model of “street style” in which fashion is disseminated from the streets up to the designers rather than vice versa. Jane Mulvagh writes in Icons of Fashion, “1962 to 1968 were crucial years in which the allure and originality of street style challenged, and finally broke, the hegemony of high fashion”. The trajectory of fashion in the 1960s saw three very diverse overarching styles but also a shift from a designer-centric fashion ecosystem to one where the consumer was at the center of creation.

An enduring icon of the 1950s and ‘60s, movie star Audrey Hepburn embraced the progression of sixties fashion up to the hippie aesthetic of the last part of the decade. Having firmly established herself as a leading lady in 1950s films like Roman HolidaySabrina, and Funny Face, Hepburn’s influence continued into the sixties.

In 1961, she starred as Holly Golightly in one of her most iconic films, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In this film, like so many others, Hubert de Givenchy designed the costumes, including the iconic black dress from the opening scene (Fig. 17). Hepburn and Givenchy worked together both on- and off-screen to create a simple, but stylish wardrobe that was easily copied by women of all means.

In the early 1960s, Hepburn wore feminine, Jackie Kennedy-esque skirt suits. Like the First Lady, she paired these suits with the requisite accessories: gloves and hat, like the green Givenchy suit worn in Paris When It Sizzles in 1962 (Fig. 18). The clothes she wore in 1963’s Charade would not have looked out of place on Kennedy but also cut a stylish figure as she gallivanted through Paris (Fig. 15). As the decade progressed, so did her fashion. In the mid-sixties, Hepburn began to wear more “Mod” styles with bright colors and minidresses working their way into her wardrobe. In the 1966 film How to Steal a Million, she sported white-rimmed sunglasses à la Space Age styles and a stylish bob hairstyle accented by dark eyeliner to give her the popular doe-eyed look of the period (Fig. 16).

NYC Fashion Of The 1960s (Gallery) 2
NYC Fashion Of The 1960s: Audrey Hepburn

Though she would remain admired for her fashion for the rest of her life, by 1969, when the fashion world had started to turn to Eastern influences and longer skirts, Hepburn married Andrea Dotti in a pink minidress. Looking happy, she represented the part of the population, including couture designers like Givenchy, who had not yet embraced the new style.


Just as womenswear became more casual and colorful throughout the 1960s, so too did menswear. While menswear began moving towards a more casual style in the 1950s, the frenetic energy of Swinging London found its way with bright prints and colors for men. As there had not been very much movement in men’s fashion for over a hundred years, the change was striking.

Where the mid- to late-1950s saw a rise in the popularity of Italian style suits with narrow striped ties, menswear gradually incorporated brighter colors and patterns, and ties began to widen again as the decade progressed. By the mid-1960s, even the suit itself was seeing changes. Brightly striped or patterned suits were worn by bold young men, while even the trousers and jacket did not escape from new styling.

Like women’s fashion, menswear turned to Eastern influences and secondhand shopping in the late 1960s. Rejecting the consumerism and synthetic materials of the earlier part of the decade, men began to wear vintage clothes, especially those from the 1930s and 1940s. Tie-dye, loose-fitting shirts, and velvet vests were all a part of the men’s hippie aesthetic in the later part of the 1960s while color continued to remain front and center. As the 1960s moved into the 1970s, flared trousers, jeans, and long hair were all widespread men’s styles.

These Vintage Gallery Reveal NYC Fashion of the 1960s:


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