Feature photo credit: Dean Chalkley's short film, "The New Look."
Well and truly in the midst of a retro revival, we're going to take you on a magical mystery tour of the weirdest and wonderful Sixties outfits that defined the era. If you want to learn about how people dressed in the 1960s, as well finding out how to get a modernised Sixties look yourself, you've come to the right place. Read more Men's Style Guide features and check out our Store.
How Did People Dress In The 1960s?The thing that's so accessible about getting that Sixties look is that the era was a time of limitless fashion in terms of the divergent and varied styles that emerged; think Mod, Bohemia, Bikers and Beatnik styled clothing. The freedom and creativity rife in art, culture and music transcended into fashion, and the 60s attire that had previously been viewed as bland suddenly became an avenue in which to express yourself. Covering every area of subcultures, we look at the most influential 60's fashion trends there were and better yet, 1960s men's fashion pieces that you can incorporate into your look today.
The Mod Look 1960'sIf you’re leaning towards the Mod persuasion then think slim fits, narrow cuts and clean lines just like those frequently worn by The Beatles in their 60s heyday. 1960s Mod fashion evolved from the iconic Teddy Boys style of the previous generation, which took inspiration from Edwardian dandies and the tailored suits they took pride in. The Mods enhanced the structured look of the suits and the Teddy Boy leather jackets and added some new 60s elements into the mix as well to create a whole new subcultural style, such as the polo shirt and a lot more vibrant and bright colours and patterns.
60's Outfits: Mod60s style clothing doesn't have to stay stuck in a vintage rut, and lots of looks from the time work effortlessly in the present day. There are really not that many alterations needed, as the styles still adored as much today as it was back in the era. The key is to stick to the essentials. Throw on a polo neck jumper, preferably in black, and you're already off to a good start. Team the jumper with some clean skinny fit suit trousers and a matching blazer, or you can mix it up a little and put together some formal trousers (such as chinos), a blazer in another fabric (such as tweed), and finish off the look with a neutral coloured mac and smart formal shoes. The key is to keep the silhouette slim and flattering, as most 1960s clothing fitted the body and was not overly baggy like it was in the eras that followed.
The Bohemia Look 1960sFor the ultimate Bohemian Sixties inspiration, look no further than the King of nonconformity; 60s icon Jimi Hendrix. The rock legend perfectly epitomised how a cultural movement could bridge the gap between fashion and ideology. Hendrix took a seemingly feminine style and showed that, if worn with conviction, it could be made masculine. It’s a tough one to master but if you’re brave enough to dare, the results can make for some hard hitting style. If you’re not bold enough to don the bell bottom flares and a fringed waistcoat and want to slightly modernise the look, then Jim Morrison is a good medium to aim for. The icon's 1960s style incorporated slim cuts, great hair and a lot of leather. But in this day and age, a pair of tight leather trousers aren’t really the best and most fashion forward street style option, so switch it up and opt for a leather jacket or a pair of 60s style shoes such as Chelsea boots. A denim shirt is also a good way to tackle this look if you want a more subtle feel, wear this with some suede shoes to mix up the textures.
60's Outfits: BohemiaYou may not want to dress in full blown bohemia style and if you're unsure about what this is, it includes relaxed silhouettes that are comfortable for the wearer with patterns and colours used in unconventional pairings. Basically that stereotypical arty style. So if you do fancy trying out this look, you can incorporate some aspects of this into your modern day attire without looking like you've just stepped out of the 60s. Go for a denim shirt, either worn open over a casual T-shirt, or underneath a suede jacket (minus the fringing). Finish off the look with slightly heeled Chelsea boots for the ultimate Jim Morrison interpretation. You can also either opt for wide legged trousers, slim fit jeans or if you want to go all out, bell bottom jeans.
The Biker Look 1960sIf you want to know how to get the Sixties look, and in a way that looks very masculine, the biker look is the one for you. The biker community is still around today and thanks to this subculture reaching a huge audience back in the 60s, the iconic style has lived on. This group rivalled the Mods. Their standard attire stuck to black jeans, heavy biker boots and of course, a leather jacket. Influenced by 50s rock n' roll style, their icons consisted of Eric Clapton and Jerry Lee Lewis. The outfits were simple but made a bold statement, especially towards the mods of the time.
60's Outfits: BikerTo pull off this style, all you need is a few staples. The main piece being a classic leather jacket, the thicker the better - this is a no-brainer. If the leather style isn't for you, you can can go for a tough 60s denim jacket in a muted grey or black colour to get that worn-in look. Team either of these with a plain tee and some straight leg jeans. Cuff these at the bottom to show off the other staple piece - a pair of sturdy leather boots. They can be lace up or slip on - it doesn't matter as long as they can last through the years.
The Beatnik Style 1960sBeatnik poster boys and 60s icons Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol knew a thing or two about dressing with the simplicity that this key Sixties style demands. If your favourite colour is black then you’re in for a treat. The Beat generation were another group who epitomised the power of dressing how they wanted during the 60s. The Beatnik style consisted of a generation of serious writers, intellectuals and creatives who emulated their interests through what they wore. What’s great about the Beatnik style clothing is that it is undoubtedly the easiest and most effortless to achieve, especially today. It only requires three simple components; black slacks, shades, a Breton tee or roll neck and (if you’re feeling adventurous) a beret – although we won’t hold it against you if you opt out of the beret.
60's Outfits: BeatnikIf you're looking to get the iconic 60's Beatnik style, it's a lot easier than you'd think (and one of the most appropriate 60s styles that you can wear today). To get the look, just team a breton stripe T-shirt - long or short sleeve, it's your choice - with simply some wide-legged trousers. Finish off your look with either some formal shoes, such as Docs for a grungy edge or some black plimsolls.
Looking the PartAs well as shopping for authentic vintage pieces, there are other options in your arsenal. Companies such as Portuguese Flannel, Art Gallery and Farah do a decent job of turning out reproductions and 60s inspired knitted polos, parkas and shirts that have the same feel and quality as some original vintage. Walking on the tightrope between a phoney and authentic 60s inspired looks means you need to be selecting key pieces that echo the style of the era. For inspiration, look to original imagery and period movies or TV series to find what you're looking for and to get the best 60s style clothing.
Sixties StaplesWhen you think of 1960s men's fashion, there are a few staples that should come to mind (and if they don't already come to mind, they will now). You can mix and match these key peices to start to bring some vintage inspired looks into your wardrobe.
- Polo Shirt
- Roll Neck
- Sta-Press Trouser
- Chelsea Boot
- Pea Coat