History 104: Western Civilization since 1648
Lecture: Social Revolution

Fashion (1965-85) click here for audio

The Late Sixties

Fashions reflected the easing of gender restrictions, the sexuality of the youth movement, and a heightened awareness of other cultures during the 1960s.

Plastic was in, with transparent clothes part of "radical chic" for women. Here the plastic example is also a mini-skirt. Created by British designer Mary Quant, mini-skirts emerged in the 60s to become a fashion sensation, though they were worn a couple of inches shorter in Europe than in the U.S.

Nehru jacket with paisley decorationFor men, the Nehru jacket (Indian influence) was popular. This one is in paisley design, which was trendy in men's shirts. Men's fashion became pretty feminine in the late 1960s. This may have reflected a demographic trend in which there were more women than men, forcing men to dress the way women preferred in order to find mates. The loose shirts, intricate patterns, and bell-bottom pants men wore created a feminine silhouette similar to that of men in the 1690s, or any era where they had to attract women.

Photo of model in plastic mini-skirt
Cover of Beatles "Let It Be" album, showing all four

The 1970s

Men's hair finally grew long again, after about 50 years of being short. Facial hair was also back and sideburns were in. Note how the Beatles have changed from the last time you saw them (this is 1970).

photo from catalog of men in polyester pants




Platform shoes were worn by both sexes.

Seventies men's "Polyester Look". We've only seen clinging clothes for men a couple of times, and then usually only for legs. The tight physique-showing fashion indicates the continued need for men to attract women.

Women's flare pants and clinging shirts. Note the natural hair. This is the height of the women's movement, with the freedom represented in the clothing, which hadn't been this close to men's styles since World War II.


photo of wild orange platform shoes

drawing from pattern for women's flare pants

The 1980s

Women's hairstyles became shorter, encouraged by the trend-setting Princess Diana of Britain.

publicity photo of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

photo of Elvis Costello and band
British rocker Elvis Costello and band at the height of early 80s new wave fashion, showing the super-slim ties and jacket lapels, with colorful shoes. Male hair went short again in the 1980s, as it tends to in conservative times since World War I (like now).

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