History of fashion series: the 1960s

On our journey through the history of style, we’ve stopped by the minimal 1990s, garish 80s and hippy-chic 70s – and now it’s time for us to take a look at one of the most iconic decades for fashion, the 1960s, when Beatlemania was at its peak, skirts were the shortest they’d ever been and the world watched with bated breath to see if man really could land on the moon.

So iconic are the fashions of the 1960s that they never go out of style, so here’s how to add a few swinging 60s makes to your handmade wardrobe for instant cool. Groovy, baby!

Joan dress

Keep it smart
It took a long time for the ultra-feminine fashions of the 1950s – corseted underwear, smart suits, hats and gloves and structured dresses – to fade. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that things got really swinging.

Many women around the world were (and still are) influenced by Jackie Kennedy, with her youthful twist on conservative dressing – especially her signature straight, short-jacketed suits and matching pillbox hats.

Sew the look: Make a 60s siren frock with Sew Over It’s Joan pattern or have a go with a real vintage pattern like blogger Karen Ball.

60s mini skirtsMini skirts
A signifier of the social revolution that swept the Western world, the mini skirt suited a generation of women that was more sexually liberated, confident and powerful.

King’s Road boutique owner Mary Quant and French designer André Courrèges were both credited with raising hemlines, but Mary said: “It wasn’t me or Courrèges who invented the mini skirt anyway – it was the girls in the street who did it.”

The mini skirt’s boom went hand in hand with the US invention of pantyhose in 1959, which allowed women to ditch stockings and suspender belts for easy-to-wear tights.

Sew the look: We’re fans of this flirty number from Burda and we also love Tilly & the Buttons’ Arielle skirt.

Sewing with vinylPVC
Neil Armstrong didn’t land on the moon until 1969, but the whole decade was preoccupied with space travel, which had a strong influence on fashion – think silver, black and white and Op Art patterns. This was also the era of experimenting with man-made fabrics such as nylon and polyester.

Wet-look PVC in crazy colours, and even transparent, suited the futuristic mood and was everywhere, from Diana Rigg’s catsuits in The Avengers to shiny raincoats.

Sew the look: Make your own vinyl raincoat with this designer-inspired DIY and follow Melly’s tips for being fantastic with plastic.

Katie Allen PlumKatie Allen is a writer, content editor and crafter based in London. She is the author of craft book Just Sew Stories and also runs ethical clothing business Plum. She loves reading, writing and all things kitty. Follow her at @KatieFQ. Photo copyright Leonie Morse. Read more posts from Katie’s history of fashion blog series here. Header image: brizzle born and bred via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA