Dressing Up, Dressing Down

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top 2004.102
evening dress 2003.56
kaftan 1979.112
dress 1986.528
1969 psychedelic paper dress (1989.184)
dress 1992.110
suit 1988.101
suit 1986.524
I125.jpg
dress detail 1997.226
1995.116.jpg
dress 1992.107
suit 1997.16

Although it is tempting to think of the 1960s in terms of a clear decade, in fashion terms it can actually be separated into two distinct halves, with the first few years allied to the styles of the 1950s, and the last half blasting a new provocative course. Mini-skirts and mini-dresses first appeared from 1965, shocking conservative society by concealing so little. English designers like Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb led the world of fashion, so that the influence of London and its vibrant boutique street-life, was able to overtake that of Paris for a few brief years, although Courreges, Ungaro and Saint Laurent remained crucial figures. Simple mini-shifts or floor-length A-line evening gowns provided a perfect canvas for dramatic decoration, as in the 1920s. However, unlike those of the twenties, sixties designs tended to be printed, and often extremely colourful, in new psychedelic patterns. "Op Art" in bold black and white patterns, as featured in the dress illustrated, was also very popular, and still is today, as seen by the top from 2004 shown below.

Menswear was also far more imaginative in the later 1960s than the previous decades, with bright colours and patterns, and sleek fitted styling. New man-made fabrics were introduced, including nylon for men's shirts, crimplene for jackets and coats, PVC for rainwear and decorative trims, and even paper for mini dresses (see below). Knitting and crochet also had a major revival, particularly for women's mini-dresses, hats and jumpers.

Full item descriptions:

"evening dress" [2003.56], Vuokko, Thingummys
"top" [2004.102], Topshop
"dress & kaftan" [1979.112]
"dress (tabard)" [1986.528], Feraud, Miss, Peters Brothers
"paper dress" [1989.184], Marcus Boutique by Mornessa, Scott Paper Co.
"dress" [1992.110], Quant, Mary, Ginger Group
"dress & coat" [1988.101], Ungaro, Emanuel, Parallele
"suit" [1986.524], Pierre Cardin, Paris, Miss Selfridge
"trouser suit" [1997.226], Picque
"evening dress" [1995.116], Quant, Mary, Ginger Group
"mini dress" [1992.107], Andre Courreges, Paris
"lounge suit" [1997.16], Take 6

Related Themes:

High Street Fashion
1970s Fashion
Designers