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Trends Of The Mid-1960s workshop

Discussion in 'Trends of the mid 1960s 2005 By PremierLudwig' started by premierludwig, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    Welcome to my VFG workshop the fashion trends of the mid 1960s. Please feel free to jump in with any questions, comments or knowledge that you wish to share on the subjects I will be covering as I am hoping that this will work out as a friendly and fun exchange of information on this snapshot of time, rather than me just throwing a lot of information at you all.

    For those of you who have never encountered me before, I'm known as Senti (a nickname with a long history) and I am totally stuck in a 1960s timewarp. I missed the 60s myself - being born in 1979 - but developed a love for this decade very early on, and now live in a 1960s house decorated with the appropriate vintage wallpaper and furniture, wear mainly 1960s clothes, am a self confessed knee-high boot addict.

    Not having lived through the fashions at the time, I've discovered them via films from the era and stacks of 1960s fashion magazines... so I can usually pin down each look to a specific season and know what hairstyles and accessories would have been worn with it when it first came out.

    My particular fashion idol of the era is Beatle girlfriend, model Pattie Boyd - so you'll be seeing quite a lot of her in this workshop - and I have a love of the Dollyrockers range that Samuel Sherman created.

    I've chosen to talk about the fashion trends that took place in the mid 1960s (focussing around 1965 and spilling over into 1966) as this is the era that the most striking styles come from. The looks that film and television shows aim for when recreating the decade, the ideas that pop into people's heads when setting up a swinging sixties fancy-dress party... and more importantly as far as I am concerned, the clothes that the mod crowd of today are on the look-out for.

    [align=center]Senti (the blonde) and friend Gina (the Brunette) in their early mod days
  2. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    1965 was about the end of the mod scene in the UK. Mods were about style, sophistication, sharpness and individuality... and by 1965 the media had caught up with them and everything they did was soon being copied by people across the country. Their look would soon be copied and adapted across the Atlantic in America, and this large-scale reproduction of "mod style" more or less killed the movement off in England.

    But the desire to be a mod, and to be considered sharp, stylish and individual never went away. So, four decades later, there is still a booming mod scene throughout Europe, and a thriving 1960s scene basing itself on mod in the USA. The only difference is that these days mods don't create all the newest trends, they emulate the look that was copied across the world in mod's heyday. It's as though the fashions, attitudes and music of 1965 and 1966 are frozen and preserved.

    So if you're a wannabe mod, this is going to be your guide of the hottest fashions to get hold of, and if you're selling this kind of gear, you need to know your mod audience... and mods are determined to have perfection.

    The look is sharp, far out, often quite kooky, and most definitely British. And as much as we love our designer labels here at the VFG, those too are out. Christian Dior is not going to create a stir among the mod crowd, and they were not the forerunners of mid-sixties style.

    For the majority of the 1960s, the driving force behind fashion was no longer the big established houses of Parisian haute couture but small London boutiques run by way out unknowns whose names and creations would soon go down in fashion, cultural and social history.

    Among them there were Ossie Clarke's Quorum, Lee Bender's Bustop, Mary Quant's Bazaar, and Barbara Hulanicki's Biba which attracted 100,000 visitors a week in it's heyday.

    So as they said in Vogue during 1965, "In New York it's the 'London Look', in Paris it's 'le style anglais',"

    I'm now going to focus on a few of the major ideas that shaped mid-sixties fashion:
    • cut-outs
    • pop-art and op-art
    • geometric
    • black and white
    • vintage
  3. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest


    As British teen magazine Fabulous remarked in the Summer of 1965 when they asked Pattie Boyd to model the latest fashions for them, "this year it's the Bit Of Dress That Isn't There that's making the greatest impact!"

    For those who are striving to achieve the perfect 1960s look these days, the hardest essential item to find for your swinging wardrobe is the perfect little crochet dress... and even more difficult is the age old concern of what to wear under it!

    Crochet dresses were one of those 60s styles you had to be brave to wear when the classic version was a white figure hugging mini dress with a generous supply of holes which were sometimes just a little too large and a little too close together.

    "Every girl had a little crochet number. It was the ultimate dolly-bird dress. The only problem was what to wear underneath it. Unless you really wanted to let everything hang out, you had to get one of those new flesh coloured body stockings" remembers a teen of the 1960s.

    [align=center]white crochet cling sweater

    For those of you who do manage to find a groovy little crochet number to sell in your stores, it's best to market it to the brave and sexy by suggesting it be worn with skin-tone underwear or - if the holes are small enough that you can get away with it - underwear precisely the same colour as the crochet yarn.

    For the less brave who are still determined to have this sort of item in their collection *and* go out in it, it is now almost impossible to find the bodystockings designed for this purpose in the 1960s... but a modern equivalent is to visit a dancewear shop and purchase the flesh-coloured undergarments that ballerinas wear - like a flesh-coloured leotard but very low-cut at both the front and back, and with very thin spaghetti straps. This way it looks like you're being reckless and wearing nothing underneath, but *you* are safe in the knowledge you're not going to show anything you shouldn't.

    More modern versions of the little 1960s crochet dresses are much easier to wear as the pattern of holes are thought out so as to conceal certain areas. A perfect example of this is the one Heather Graham wore in Austin Powers, which although it's not an original 1960s dress, I'd definitely not say no if it were offered to me.

    [align=center]Heather Graham as Felicity Shagwell in the second Austin Powers film
  4. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    If you weren't brave enough to have crochet holes everywhere, 1965 came to the rescue when cutouts were the style. Holes big or small cut into mainly black and white fabric because cutouts were part of the whole op art boom when everyone was nicking the black and white creations of artist Bridget Riley (as I will come to discuss later on). Cutouts in your dress, cutouts on the toes of your shoes, cutouts making a pattern on the top of your Courreges style boots.

    [align=center]the classic cut-out look by Biba - white drill dress with keyhole cut-out over the chest area and cutaway armholes

    For the "retro-style" clothes of the 1960s revival in the 1990s, cut-outs were entirely placed so that they would reveal your cleavage. This sort of fashion is still wildly popular with those attending 1960s fancy-dress events, and for the newbies to the 1960s scene. But for those in the mod scene who are prepared to spend cold hard cash on clothes with cut-outs, nothing but the stylish original discreet cut-outs will do.

    Cut-outs in clothing from 1965 and 1966 are singular large cut-outs in the upper half of a dress whereas cut-outs later on in the decade tended to be multiple cut-outs in a band across the chest waist or hemline of an outfit, often using a daisy pattern or some other such novelty shaped cut-out. The early look is easily identified as discreet and stylish, while the later is fun, bright bold and very youthful.

    [align=center]Chosen and modelled by Pattie Boyd - a denim dress with a bold, kooky cut-out in the front, from Sambo's Dollyrocker range and originally costing £3 and 19 shillings. (The denim doughboy with a daisy pinned to the brim is by Edward Mann and cost 39 shillings and 11 pence)

    Pattie Boyd modelling a grass green linen weave dress by Saville Sports with a discreet high neckline in front and a neat square, like a TV screen, cut out of the back. Originally costing four and a half guineas. (The Courreges look hat is a fine white straw edged with black, designed by Edward Mann and originally costing 79 shillings and 11 pence

    The absolute classic-look cut-out item of the era, sought after by wardrobe people in the film industry, those attending 60s fancy-dress events, and also the mod crowd and 1960s fashion collectors is the black and white panelled dress with a central cut-out. Inferior copies of these were widespread in the 1990s, but an original complete with a recognisable 1960s name such as Dollyrockers, Angela Cash, Blanes, Mary Quant, or Foale and Tuffin would be a tremendous find.

    A perfect example of this kind of item is shown below, complete with it's 1965 caption... please also note the cut-out boots with cut-out toes and cut-outs around the top. These were made by the theatrical shoemakers Anello and Davide (who also made the famous Beatle Boots) and were probably the most popular footwear worn by any of the female in-crowd of the 1960s:

    [align=center]Outside Buckingham Palace, Pattie's bare look for the beach is a razzle dazzle black and white towelling shift with a cut-out wide enough to display a captivating square of sun-tanned midriff. (By Angela Cash, 4 guineas.)

    Cut-outs on footwear were most definitely not just for go-go boots, in 1965 and 1966, cut-outs all over shoes were almost an absolute essential.

    [align=center]shoes from top to bottom: Luini, Clarks, Giusti, Christian Dior, Trevi and Holmes of Norwich. Dress from Susan Small’s Trendsetters range
  5. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    In 1965 fishnet also moved from your stockings to the midriff of your dress or top and made up the entirety of your sleeves too. This was a much more easily wearable style which lasted for a relatively short period of time, and can instantly pin-down an outfit to this era when seen on more conservative outfits such as knee-length dresses, ankle length dresses with a slit up the side, and casual trouser suits.

    [align=center]Pattie Boyd's "jump" suit, in white cotton, has a wide peekaboo fishnet midriff. The matching hat has a mesh crown. (By Mary Quant's Ginger Group, 8gns.)

    a swinging shift with a wide midriff filled in with holed-up fishnet. By Angela Cash, £7 19s. 6d. The gingham hat is by Edward Mann, (29s. 11d.) As a side note, the groovy sun-specs seen in the picture had a built in transistor
  6. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    Some of the most fabulous - and also the least comfortable and wearable - outfits from the cut-out phase were created by Austrian designer Rudi Gernreich.

    Gernreich became particularly famous in 1964 when he designed a topless swimsuit... but the cutout designs tht came later were much more wearable and showed a flair for drawing attention to "the Bit Of Dress That Isn't There".

    Rudi's take on the cut-out was a little different to other designers. Sometimes there were so many cutouts that the item was made up entirely of the thin bits imbetween the holes... and another fabulous and innovative idea used the new vinyl fabric that Mary Quant had perfected, placing see-through plastic in place of the holes. The problem with those of course was that vinyl was rather hot and uncomfortable to wear in those early stages before the fabric was perfected, and the see-through sections had a tendancy to steam up!

    Here are a couple of my favourite cut-out outfits designed by Rudi, modelled of course by the fabulous Peggy Moffit who worked exclusively for Gernreich in the 1960s and 1970s.

    [align=center]vinyl dress and boots using see-through plastic in place of an actual cut-out

    [align=center]a swim suit that only just manages to be more decent than Rudi's famous topless swim-suit, made up almosy entirely of holes and very little strategically placed fabric
  7. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    I have so much been looking forward to this workshop!

    Firstly, how much do you attribute the Beatles to the success of Dollyrockers. Obviously, it had appeal, but because all the sudden Pattie Boyd was a major "It" girl dating George Harrison, do you think she was like the Sienna Miller of her day being the girlfriend of the big star and whatever she wears becomes so much more high profile? Or do you not think it made much of a difference to folks?

    And secondly, you need to show us pictures of your Mod pad sometime!
  8. Hattysattic

    Hattysattic VFG Secretary

    i'm really enjoying this senti!! that's an excellent idea about dancewear shops for bodystockings - i may invest in one for myself!
    so tell me more 60's stuff, it's so much fun!..... ;)
  9. Hattysattic

    Hattysattic VFG Secretary

    oh yes - what chris said! i need to see interior decor too!!
  10. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    I think that when Pattie started dating George, anything she wore became the thing to wear. All of the Beatle girlfriends were followed diligently by so many of the fans, and anything they did was instantly copied. Pattie was the easiest for anyone to emulate as her beauty tips were all over the fashion magazines, and she was there modelling (mostly) affordable clothes in magazines which told you where you could get those clothes that very week.

    I think once people actually bought the Dollyrockers range and realised how lovely the fabric was, how nice the cut was and how fabulous the range was that they didn't really need her anymore. It was always the Pattie Boyd design even when she'd long since stopped modelling their clothes.

    On the other hand, Jane Asher was a Beatlegirl and modelled for some magazines, but the items she wore never took off as much as the things Pttie wore. I think Pattie had a certain something that made her stand out. So to begin with it was 90% Beatle and 10% Pattie herself looking lovely... and then after that - if they were anything like me - you were hooked.
  11. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    I find the bodystockings from the dancewear shops *essential*, I'd hardly ever dare wearing my crochet dresses without them. I sometimes wear them with matching underwear, but I always have to have a "minder" with me (ie a man) the whole time if I do that as you wouldn't believe the trouble you get going out dressed in a crochet dress! If I'm wearing the bodystocking they usualy stare at me so long trying to work out if I'm wearing anything underneath that I get the chance to escape before they come for a closer look! LOL!

    ... and when I'm sewing 60s patterns for myself and I'm making a mini-dress, I try and get enough fabric to make some matching underwear too... that way I feel safe no matter how short my skirt! I've found the 60s magazines tips on how to walk and go up stairs in a mini skirt esential too. I don't think most modern girls could cope if I stuck them in most of my clothes, they'd be showing their underwear left right and centre!
  12. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    It's also interesting that you mention the crocheted dress. Many people automatically think 60s crochet=late 60s hippie/bohemian and do not associate it with "mod". I suppose one has to rely on cut.
  13. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    Okay, interior of my house... I haven't got too many pictures to be honest, but I do have one with a picture of the mural that's on my bedroom wall:


    and here's an example of my scary wallpaper:


    My pride and joy (well, one of them) is just creeping into the right hand side of that picture - my 1960s HMV stereo cabinet. It's a huge piece of furniture, and the sound is still beautiful on it, much better than any of the modern CD players I've bought so far. The speakers are just fabulous on it. I found it under a pile of old doors in a second hand furniture warehouse and bought it for about £20!

    I really should take pictures of my fabulous kitchen and my bizarre furniture though as they're the most instantly recognisable as 60s.
  14. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    crochet was *very* popular in the early 60s, mainly with people making their own clothes using patterns from fabulous publications like Vogue knitting magazine. Crochet is very quick so you can make a whole mini-dress in no time.

    Early crochet items are very neat and repeat the same pattern throughout, whereas the late 60s hippie dresses you are thinking of tended to have flower-creating stitches added to the crochet here and there, and have built up areas where crochet has been done over the top of the original piece of work.

    I'll try and scan in some examples of the early crochet dresses before the end of the workshop so that you can see what I mean.
  15. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest


    The Pop Art boom inspiration obviously came from comic book style art, but it's strong foundations in fashion and the whole reason it suddenly became such a popular fashion statement was actually down to a pop musician.

    In 1965 a mod band called The Who become wildly popular. The were loud, forceful, brash and determined to stand out in every way possible. They'd been groomed a few years previously by Mod Ace Face, Pete Meaden, who had turned them all onto the mod scene and it's stylish cutting-edge ways. There were a few grumbles amongst some of the group as they were persuaded into the usual mod gear, but the songwriter and lead guitarist of the group - Pete Townshend loved ever minute of it.

    He was an art school student and while studying he had been trained in some radical new art ideas and also met his future wife Karen who was studying fashion design. With mod, all the new ideas came together, and Pete soon stopped the band being a step behind the mods, copying their fashions and started creating his own.

    He got rid of the regular striped mod shirts and created a style for the band based on pop images - targets, flags, comic book images such as the Superman logo and slogans such as "zap!" and "pow!" - which quickly caught on. As a very visual band as far as their stage show was concerned, they were instantly popular with the media and their new fashions were soon splashed all over magazines and teenage TV shows such as Ready Steady Go and A Whole Scene Going.

    [align=center]The Who in the early stages of Pete's pop art transformation

    This bold new fashion fad - that was easy to manufacture at home with a few bits of brightly coloured material cut into bold shapes and stuck on dresses, coats and sweaters - was soon adopted by the fashion designers of the day, and soon even the fabulous Mary Quant was using Pete's ideas.

    [align=center]Pattie Boyd in a Mary Quant creation using a target motif
  16. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    Another art based fashion that became wildly popular around this time was Op Art, an art form popularised by artist Bridget Riley who created amazingly fascinating pieces of work using a series of black and white shapes and patterns of different thicknesses and positions to create the optical illusion that the flat art work was bulging, twisting or moving in front of your eyes.

    Everyone was so enthralled with Riley's work that it started to appear on absolutely everything, from wallpaper to dress and upholstery fabric.

    [align=center]Bridget Riley's "Blaze"

    [align=center]Pop group The Who in more pop art mod gear such as jackets made out of flags... and drummer Keith Moon on the left with a version of "Blaze" on his t-shirt

    Bridget herself was not impressed with this widespread fashion appreciation of her work. "I've yet to see an Op Art fabric which is wearable." Riley said in 1966 to Queen magazine, "I think they're ugly beyond belief."

    [align=center]Bridget Riley standing in front of her art work

    [align=center]An early Ossie Clark creation using quilted op-art fabric modelled by Chrissie Shrimpton in the presence of the designer

    [align=center]June 1965 - Pattie Boyd in UK Vogue wearing an electric pattern zig-zag beach playsuit of navy and white cotton.

    As op-art has again become quite widespread on fashion in the past few years, you will only really be able to identify 1960s op-art by the type of fabric, label, and the style of the item. Modern versions do tend to be more conservative than the 1960s versions, so if you find something totally over-the-top using masses of fine op-art print then you can almost be certain it's an item from 1965.

    These examples of beach-wear issued during the op-art boom were from a selection designed by Rose Marie Reid and sold at Harvey Nichols and Kurt Geiger:


    A more dramatic use of op-art fabric can be seen here in a creation by Capucci that was featured in Vogue during Autumn 1965:

    [align=center]black and white threaded silk and fronded ostrich feathers, made into a short moulded jacket and sleeveless dress with long drindl skirt. Fabric by Passementerie.
  17. dibs2002

    dibs2002 Registered Guest

    Great workshop Senti! I love the mod look, but wouldn't be caught dead in a miniskirt.

  18. Wow, Senti, this workshop is great. I happened to be there during this time so I can really relate! Will try to dig up some pictures.

    Interesting about the hemline. Most of them are longer than I would expect. When did the hemline become shorter?
  19. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    LOL! I practically live in mini skirts... but my best feature is my legs, so you use what you've got don't you. ;) I was going to do a bit on mini skirts in this workshop, but decided they were probably too well documented already... but they are almost a revolution in themself if you think about it.

    I think the mini skirt was the start of really outrageous clothing fashions of the sixties that left little to the imagination, and it was also the most easy to try... you'd find it easier showing your legs than going around in a topless dress... well I would anyway!

    I think Vogue commented at the time that "Brevity is the soul of fashion", and with the mini you don't have to be *that* brave, you just decide how short you can manage and go with that.

    I don't think the US took to the mini as easily as the UK though (which is strange as you'd think we'd freeze to death in it here - hence the introduction around this time of the maxi coat). When the mini hit New York, Mayor John Lindsay felt he had to comment and said, "It will enable girls to run faster, and because of it they may have to."

    In England, authority figures got involved with the mini debate in a different way, loving the girls wandering around showing their legs off, but worrying that the trend was going to mean they'd get less tax money!

    Skirts under 24 inches long were originally classified by British law as children's clothing, and therefore exempt from tax regulation, but due to rapidly shrinking hemlines, purchase tax regulations were changed. From the first of January 1966 women's clothing was classified for tax according to bust sizes rather than length... and that's all because of the mini skirt, so ladies with an ample busom can blame the mini skirt that they have to pay more tax on their clothing!

    Thanks for the support everyone... it's a little nerve wracking doing this!

    I've found some perfect examples to explain the difference between mid-60s mod crochet and late sixties hippie crochet so I'm going to try and scan those in and add them on.
  20. premierludwig

    premierludwig Registered Guest

    The hemline became super short just in time for the new British tax law in 1966. The reason for the pictures so far having hems that just reach the knees is that in early 1965, we were still all trying to be quite conservative in the UK, and knee length was considered just about respectable... plus it's cold and we hadn't invented the maxi coat yet! As soon as the maxi came out at the end of 66 we wore micro minis with matching underwear!

    If you're into the mod look Deb, but don't like minis, the trouser suit is probably going to be more your scene. There's a little evidence of them coming later on, and I'll try and dig out a bit more on the unisex looks of mod too, lots of striking smart geometric clothing, and totally without the frills and showing your legs off! :)

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