"It was all so groovy!"
Looking back on how we dressed in the '60's is a fun-and often funny-trip into the past. These fashions were pretty happening, and in retrospect, the clothes and styles that were big then seem even bigger to me now. Scooter dresses were sleek and short, merging a mini into a one-piece with incredibly bold design. These dresses were sleek and ultimately inspiring; women's fashions were making bold statements, complimenting the sixties era. The advent of "pedal pushers" that became the "capris" of today, were a trademark of our indelible generation. Like the furniture of the '60's era, the clothing, hair and makeup styles were evolving, moving faster toward the "Space Age". Makeup trends were probably at their apex in the '60's era; false eyelashes were very hot, as was white lipstick and frost colors, or "super lumium" pale lipsticks that complimented the more theatrical makeup styles that enhanced the face of the average girl next door to the '60's super-models.
Women's fashions took off like a jet in the '60's, and when the British Mod (Modernist) look came into the American forefront, everything was alive with color, patterns, style, and attitude. Stores that catered to the new look sprouted all over London, especially places like Carnaby Street and Kings Road. Unlike the garrish, and overblown styles of the '70's, the '60's fashions were truly innovative and rather striking.
Go-Go Boots were another hot addition to women's footwear, and white lipstick, platinum blonde hair and exotic use of makeup really set the trend for the mid-to-late '60's fashion mood. Max Factor had taken the lead on innovative makeup, along with Yardley-whose catch-phrase was "The London Look". Other top manufacturers were Revlon, Clairol, Coty, L'Oréal, Jovan, Maybelline and Mary Quant who released a late-'60's line.
What I loved the most about women's fashions were the hair styles. The Flip was probably the signature hairstyle of the '60's. Like her pedal pushers, nobody wore a flip with such distinction as TV's "Laura Petrie" (Mary Tyler Moore) from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Marlo Thomas' flip in "That Girl" is probably the most iconic in television history. The flip showed us that Big hair was in, but delicately so, and became the pre-cursor the huge hair/mane culture of the 70's and 80's for both men and women. I remember girls wearing "Mary Jane's", a dressy strap-over-instep shoe. They were extrememly common with either the short rolled socks, or the higher knee socks. It seems like every girl in school was wearing knee socks. I remember dresses and a button down sweater was also a popular look, along with plaid skirts and plastic bandanas.
Where the Guys Are
1964-65 were the years I really noticed guys' fashions changing for the better. When I was in school, I remember a lot of the styles that were in, and the styles that were out, and pity for the kids who didn't seem to know the difference. Plaid was big as were vertical stripes. Corduroy pants were the next big rave-especially the "thick cords". White pants and crew socks were also the in-thing.
Short sleeve "surfer shirts" were very big. These were basically a pullover shirt with wide horizontal stripes. Sometimes they had a solid colored collar, but always the stripes. "Duck tail" shirts, and turtlenecks were the ultimate in cool (especially black turtlenecks worn under another shirt). Madras shirts with the little loop on the back were what everyone was wearing. It was a fad to rip the loop off the back of someone's shirt.
TV had a lot to do with how the fashions influenced us. Rock bands were beginning to change, moving further toward the "Mod" look inspired both by The Beatles and the times. Bangs combed forward was a popular style for guys' hair. Toward 1965, longer hair (touching the collar and slightly covering the ears), was the fad. Groups like The Byrds, Herman's Hermits, The Animals and others were very powerful influences on me. Long hair was a tough one for my parents, and they never permitted it for us boys.
"Desert Boots" were probably the most popular shoe in my school. Often they were out of my parents' price range, but around sixth grade I began to wear them to school. In the Ward's Catalog, they were called "Chukka Boots", but at school everyone just called them desert boots. Even some stores carried them under the title.
The most dependable of all shoes-and among the most popular-were Penny Loafers, or any kind of loafer, and tennis shoes-formerly known as, and sometimes still referred to as-"sneakers". Converse, Keds, and P.F. Flyers were among the top brands. Converse were probably the most inexpensive, yet very durable shoes. Though they'd been around for a long time, deck shoes or "boat shoes" became ultimately popular around 1966.
Jeans with the cuffs rolled up were the thing up to around 1964. Engineer boots were also popular among a few guys, but mostly for the tougher guys-the ones mom didn't want you to bring home after school. There were a few guys in my neighborhood who wore them simply because they were so durable and parents couldn't afford the most requested shoes. I always loved Engineer boots, and my best friend wore them to school for many years because of their durability.