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60s fashion pictures speak louder than reams of articles

December 8, 2019

It’s said that pictures paint a thousand words, but in 60s fashion pictures you’ll hear much more than that about the men and women from that decade’s fashion era.


Mod fashion had come into its own in the 60s. Psychedelic swirls, elaborate hairdos and bold bright colours were part of the 1960s fashion world. Pop art and culture however, seen through the lenses of 60s fashion pictures, show us two divergent and often conflicting sides to the decades’ fashion scene.

60s fashion pictures - May day fashion parade in Ljubljani 1961

May day fashion parade in Ljubljani 1961

The Two Sides of 1960s fashion

60s fashion pictures tell a tale of two bi-polar fashion eras. But before we dive into how 1960s fashion evolved, lets recall a thing or two about what fashion in the 1950s looked like. Shift dresses were a No No! And speaking about “Nos”, no fashionable woman from the fifties would ever be seen in a mini skirt. Girdles and petticoats were the order of the day, and 60s fashion pictures show that gloves were a must have fashion accessory for social events.


The early part of the decade was a more subdued version, where 60s fashions were more reminiscent of the fifties. Through most part of the early sixties, it seemed as though the 1950s had not ended, but just continued to percolate and cook inside a pressured pot. Men and women continued to embrace dresses, shirts, trousers and skirts from the decade that just was.

John Bates Minidress for Jean Varon, 1965

John Bates Minidress for Jean Varon, 1965

In fact, unless you had a keen fashion eye, viewers of 60s fashion pictures might well be forgiven for mistaking 1960s dresses and skirts for those worn by women in the 50s – they were so similar!


But then, something happened. Mid-decade sixties fashion styles evolved to an extent that they took on a unique characteristic of their own. It was as if the pressure pot had reached tipping point, and 1960s fashion was finally coming into its own. The late-60s saw a blooming of shirts, skirts and dresses that featured bright colours and lively prints. A side-by-side look at 60s fashion pictures from the both parts of the decade tell a tale of two fashion visions.

Model wearing a sweater-knit dress, 1967

Model wearing a sweater-knit dress, 1967

Memorable 60s Style Moments

Nostalgia is a great thing because it not only keeps the past alive, but also inspires you for the future. Viewing 60s fashion pictures is much like bringing nostalgia alive. As you flip through the album, you get a fond look at how 60s style evolved through the decade.  In some ways, the pictures are reminiscent of caterpillar finally breaking out of its cocoon with wings of bright colours and taking off.

60s fashion pictures parade, 1961

Fashion parade, 1961

The fashionable woman of the 1960s was pretty much like that butterfly. During the 1950s, and for the better part of the early decade that followed, 1960s dresses were modest fashion statements. However, like the proverbial butterfly, once polka dot patterns and psychedelics were discovered, everything changed for the fashionable woman.

60s fashion pictures defy tradition

Unlike the “modest fifties”, men and women were more willing than ever before to experiment with, and 60s fashion pictures show that they would even defy, tradition. Traditionally long dresses evolved into the skin-barring mini dress. Comparing pictures from the prior decade, with those of the 1960s, one could easily see that more skin was beginning to show.

Mary Quant in 1966

Mary Quant in 1966

One of the most fashionable of personalities of her times, Mary Quant, was on a mission to change fashion styles of her decade. 60s fashion pictures from her era show that her creations, like the strapless shift dresses she designed, did nothing much to stop that skin-flashing trend either.


60s fashions saw ordinary fashion-loving individuals gravitate towards turtlenecks and bell bottoms. Casual outfits expanded to include buttoned-down shirts and bulky knit sweaters. Both men and women of the 1960s were breaking out of the shadows of the 50s, and fashion catalogues with 60s fashion pictures clearly show that trend.


As someone who lived and breathed fashion, Mary Quant created some of the most memorable fashion styles of the decade. Her critics, many of whom were still rooted in 50s fashion, thought her creations scandalous. Quant’s high-cut mini dress and mini skirt, and patterns with psychedelic swirls, were considered un-appropriate for the times. However, as many archived 60s fashion pictures show, women in all strides of life – young and professionals included – loved the Mary Quant brand.

60s fashion pictures - Woman in front of mirror applying makeup, 1965

Woman in front of mirror applying makeup, 1965

The fashionable woman of the 1960s

And while Quant and her mod fashion revolution were making unforgettable 60s style waves all over the world, the wave of the fashionable woman of that decade was beginning to sweep away what was left of fifties fashion.


Sleeveless dresses with scoop necks were in vogue for wardrobes of all fashion loving women. As part of her 60s fashions choices, the fashionista of the era had a choice of either an un-pressed pleat skirt or a straight skirt to choose from. 60s fashion pictures reveal that tucked bodices and gently shirred sleeves were all part of 1960s dresses that women favoured.

Mrs. Kennedy in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, 1961

Mrs. Kennedy in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, 1961

Jackie O in 60s fashion pictures

One of the most iconic of women, to ever feature in 60s fashion pictures in glam mags, is likely to be Jackie Kennedy – later Jackie Onassis or “Jackie O’”, as the press would call her. While she was the first lady, Jackie set new standards for how the fashionable woman of the day ought to look and dress.


Jackie’s 60s fashions statement is one that many women in the public eye would imitate. The square-framed oversized sun glasses worn with a scarf around her neck, the well-fit skirt suit, classic pilgrim pumps. These are images of a politically-savvy woman of the world that many 60s fashion pictures clearly document.


Mod fashion wasn’t exactly her cuppa tea. And neither was pop art something she was overly passionate about. Jackie’s was more of a polished socialite look. One of her most memorable 1960s dresses are seen in pictures covering her 1962 trip to India. The signature white gloves and pearls, worn as accessories for her apricot dress, are an iconic photo that still mesmerises us today.

Brigitte Bardot in 1968

Brigitte Bardot in 1968


In case this gives our readers the idea that 1960s fashion was all about being “little miss dainty and frilly” – you’re wrong! French movie bombshell Brigitte Bardot saw to that.  Her full, firm, voluptuous figure was perfectly sculpted to set the tone for what was to become one of the most imitated 60s style.  And her star power saw to it that 60s fashion pictures and magazines illustrated every curve and dip of her body.


From her outrageously low-cut gowns and plunging necklines, to the mini skirt that showed off her perfect legs, Brigitte Bardot was the perfect “counter” ambassador for sixties fashion styles. It was her tacky, cheap and often outrageous looks that caught the world’s attention. In many ways, Bardot was the antithesis (perfect opposite) of the well put together Jackie Kennedy.