Part 1, on sixties style, elicited some brilliant reminiscences in the comments section. Not all my readers are old enough to have memories of the era, but they may have views about the style.
In 1966 Britain still seemed on top of the world. I remember watching the world cup (in B&W) in my parent’s bed, and feeling pleased with the result. In fact the whole of the sixties is associated with colour coming in – to TVs, clothes, shoes, cars and life. Mary Quant entered my consciousness too. She was associated with youth dressing, great footwear, sharp hair cuts and the mini-skirt. In the photograph below the model is literally swinging from a lamp-post, or by a Zebra crossing, with the streets of London evident behind her. White boots – they weren’t practical – they were cool.
By 1967 there was something of a reaction. The naive but straightforward early 1960s enthusiasm for growth, British patriotism and simplistic answers was wearing a bit thin so the countercultural movement was growing. The Beatles wore military styles in “psychedelic” colours implying a pro-drug, anti-imperialist stance, and a critique of Britain’s role in the world. Meanwhile in Marks & Spencer shops around the country the “mini-skirt” was around 3 or 4″ above the knee and carefully coordinated with woolies and “American tan” tights. I seem to remember my mum being dressed like this – for childcare, housework and going to the shops.
The reaction to widespread immigration from the Caribbean and Asia was fairly negative in popular culture, which a meant that Till Death Do Us Part could be a popular TV programme. In France student and worker sit-ins and strikes seemed almost revolutionary, whereas in the UK there was industrial action. In fashion terms the explosion of colour in clothes, tights and footwear meant even young women on modest incomes could look really stunning and fashionable. Young people would begin to own lots of clothes – some of them (made of paper, or quickly at home for an evening event) were literally disposable.
I watched the men walk on the moon on TV. It felt breathtaking and unbelievable. Their space suits influenced fashion. Of course for those who couldn’t get quite so far there was still international air travel, even if it was just Spain or France. You could still dress like you were from the future, living in a capsule, or intergalactically. The sheer confidence of the decade still excites and inspires me – in the sixties we believed we could do anything. Mankind was optimistic and enthusiastic, unafraid and willing to give it a go. This seems so different to today’s anxious, confused and reticent world.