What do you think of first when you think of sixties fashion?
I want to begin my month of sixties by talking about what I used to think about sixties fashion, when
my ideas were the kind of confused muddle that is usually produced
when you have been exposed to images, movies and TV but have given no
significant thought to the matter.
I have listened to a lot of Donovan and Jefferson Airplane in my time, but with fashion my ideas blurred muddily with the fifties and
seventies. Of course, that is not inappropriate, because fashion does
the same thing. Trends don't instantly and neatly change when the
decade ticks over (unfortunately for my current purposes).
Regardless of that excuse, let me share what went on in my brain when I thought
of the fashions of those decades:
It was while preparing an outfit for a 1970s event at school that
I started to get a beyond-Abba understanding of seventies fashion.
Realising how much I didn't know was one trigger that set me
on the path to this blog series. (I should, however, point out that although I know there is much more to seventies fashion than white flared jumpsuits, I'm not sure that I care. What more could you need?)
So I began this project, and decided to start with the sixties. Strangely, although a bright mini-dress would be my first thought of 1960s fashion, if I thought about 1960s hats, I
thought of Jackie Kennedy (and possibly Audrey Hepburn) and big
pillboxes. Which didn't really seem to fit into my schema, I knew I
was pretty confused.
I started to pour through Pinterest, Etsy and Ebay for 1960s fashion and 1960s hats, and identify the key hat styles that appeared again and again. My list of resources has improved since the beginning, and I'll be approaching my research for the 1950s with a bit more... rigour, but the haphazard approach still did the job of educating me pretty well! (You can peruse my 1960s pinterest board for an idea of where my ideas are coming from.)
The biggest surprise for me in this process has been how much inspirational and fun
millinery was happening in the sixties, and how much I've come to
appreciate the hats and fashion. I don't think I ever really enjoyed
sixties fashion before, but I find myself drooling over mini-dresses,
bright opaque tights, and even shapeless swing coats (which I used to
I can see that this blog series is going to have the dire effect
of making me a fan-girl for every era of fashion, one at a time, as I
gorge myself on images and ideas.
I honestly expected the sixties to be pretty thin on the ground
for hats, because I saw it as the decade when hats stopped being the
required accessory for a women every time she left the house.
While I still see the sixties as the transition decade for
hats, the situation is certainly more complicated than that (I'll be
looking at this more in a later post). There were still many new and
fun styles introduced, and many classics given the sixties treatment
- made bigger to accommodate hairstyles, worn at different angles on
the head, and made using new developing materials. I feel I could
spend ages on the sixties, but I have one month, and I look forward
to spending this month sharing it all with you!
Sorry for the massive long post of writing, and I promise the bulk of the posts will be image-filled. To tide you over, here is a Kotex advertisement from The Australian Women's Weekly, September 7th 1960. It demonstrates that, at the beginning of the decade at least, hats were still such a common everyday accessory that it was taken for granted that this sentiment would be understood. (Another ad in the same series has the same line, but about changing your dress, so we see hats and dresses as almost on par in importance.)
I find this ad not only divinely amusing but also a great peek at sixties hat styles, and a swoon-worthy salon image too. Truncated cones for all! I love that white one with the black bow. Maybe I have time to make just one more...
This post is the first in a new blog series "Hats of the Past: A milliner explores history." If you want to know what to expect, you can read about my plans for the series. The next post will feature the first of the sixties-style hats I've made! Yay!