Dresses 1960s style are a real retro look

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marianne faithful
Marianne Faithfull's style was all the rage in the 1960s. She was part of the British explosion, which had quite an influence on fashion
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Dresses 1960s span a wide variety of fashion style in just ten years

There was a global hiccup in the mid sixties where everything got turned upside down and inside out. In the first half of the decade, ladies were very prim and proper, minding their business. The mid 1960s domestic goddesses gleefully mopped floors and served up lavish meals while decked out in waist cinching, full-skirted, shirt-waist dresses and while wearing high heels. Oh, and the hair was always coiffed, make-up was subtly applied and hose were a must.

Then the world tipped. If you want to dress sixties, take your pick and decide if you want to channel June Cleaver or Janis Joplin, who came along during the tumultuous late 1960s. Janis Joplin was flowing scarves, vests, bohemian Indian prints, comfortable fabrics and long skirts. Choosing dresses 1960s style is a "polar opposites" fashion decision.


The 1960s certainly were not a typical
or boring decade. The you-know-what hit the fan.

JFK was assassinated, as was his brother Robert, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The Vietnam War raged and was highly controversial. Young people began to reunite and revolt. The birth control pill came onto the scene, liberating women from unwanted pregnancies, leading the way to free love. There was the summer of love and Woodstock.

Consequently, the styles of the first half of the 1960s, a fractious decade to say the least, bear little resemblance to the unconventional, anti-establishment garb that made a statement and, which was worn during the latter half of the decade. The hippies thumbed their nose at the establishment and their choice of clothing bore witness to that.

If you want to channel the first part of the 1960s, think the 1950s. It was very much the same: ladylike, girdles, petticoats, very conservative and proper. Gloves were worn to church and on evening outings and hats were very much in vogue.

Dresses or skirts were worn the majority of the time. The dresses often cinched the waist and were full on the bottom. Pleated and pencil skirts were also in vogue. Knees were not generally exposed. Keep in mind that the mini skirt had not yet made its appearance, and women were still being circumspect and reasonably modest in their appearance. Pants were only donned for play but were never, ever worn to school. 

In 1961, one of the favorite styles of the ladies was a sleeveless scoop neck dress with a pleated or straight skirt. A jacket was worn over the dress and featured Dolman sleeves. To top off the outfit, a cummerbund was placed around the waist and buckled in the back. Dresses 1960s flavored can be as prim and proper as Betty Crocker.

The shirtwaist dress was ubiquitous and reigned throughout most of the decade, even when cultural and political unrest burst forth. The ladies at home still clung to the shirtwaist although the collar got a little wider, and the dresses got a little shorter as the 1960s progressed, but it remained a staple in the wardrobes of the typical American woman.

In the early 1960s, First Lady Jackie Kennedy had, of course, a huge impact on the fashion scene. She made wearing pill box hats the thing to do. She wore A-line dresses - 1960s style - and exposed her arms. Jackie favored European designs but eventually hooked up with designer Oleg Cassini, who was a naturalized American, although Russian and French-born. Her ensembles became Americanized versions of French styles and featured oversize buttons and coats with pockets all in bright, solid colors.

The printed shift became de rigueur. The neckline of the dress was often gathered and slit and the sleeves were billowy. Shifts were colorful and considered fairly brazen for 1968. The tent dress was also popular as was the shirt/shift. Shoes got clunkier and make-up got bolder.  


In the late 1960s, courtesy to a large extent of the British musical explosion, fashion changed drastically. The mini skirt popped up. Girls began emulating Twiggie, the model, with her cropped blonde hair, huge eyes and spidery eyelashes. Marianne Faithful, a bohemian looking musician, was a fashion icon.


Civil unrest grew. People protested the Vietnam war. As the country segued into upheaval, fashion changed drastically and became what is now considered bohemian chic, which was put on the map by hippies, who lived in communes and eschewed materialism.

If you want to dress as though you were a part of the late sixties, put on a colorful, flowing peasant skirt, topped with a gauzy, scooped necked top. The Beatles had a major influence on fashion, some of which came from their exposure to the Dalai-Lama.

Hair was long and often unkempt. Fringed jackets were a must as were beads and peace symbols. Jeans were all the rage, the rattier the better. Nehru jackets were fab.


Long, embroidered jackets came on the scene. They were worn over jeans or dresses. Going bare-footed was a must. Halter tops were popular, as were wide leather belts and bell bottom jeans that were fringed on the bottom. Some kids wore ankle bells and girls often wore headbands decorated with flowers (remember Flower Power?)

The choice is yours if you are opting to go Sixties Retro. Choose either dresses 1960s ladylike, chaste, prim and conservative ---  or go for broke and channel Janis Joplin.




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