60s Fashion Style – 1964 Mod Dresses, Go Go Boots, Quant, Beatles & Retro Fashion
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
Mix Go Go boots, Mod mini dresses, Mary Quant colors, Space Age fashion, and Beatlemania craziness with the Carnaby Street carnival... and you end up with the fab British Invasion that turned 1960s clothing, music, and culture on its head. I've updated this post with a few new photos of Mod fashions for 2015.
This article tells you why American teenagers all of a sudden stopped wearing Beach-Bingo (Beach Boys) clothing and started wearing British-Mod fashions in the mid 60s. If you're a baby boomer chick, you might feel a little nostalgic this year because Mod (60s fashions) and boho (70s fashions) are huge in London and (hopefully) the US.
Soon, I will be to writing another article that explains the details, which turns a regular dress into a Mod dress, because I've noticed that a few of you younger chicks use the words Mod and Hippie interchangeably to describe retro fashion. The two styles are quite different.
The 1960s Youthquake Changed Fashion Forever
1964 should be declared the official beginning of the 1960s Youthquake. This was the year of the Beatles' invasion, Courrèges' Go Go boots, Mary Quant's mini skirts, and just about anything else that manufacturers could hype to the hordes of young baby boomers, who had just stomped their feet and thrown a countrywide hissy fit... in an effort to demand hip, youthful, British-inspired fashion.
Fortunately, designers saw dollar signs and gave the boomers what they wanted.
The British Invasion and Beatlemania Created Mod Fashion
How important was music to Baby Boomers? Well, music was right up there with lust and air. Most of us Baby Boomers still cannot draw a decent "mental timeline" unless we can correlate an event from our own lives to the release of a good rock song and all the memories that the music evokes.
So, for all of you who can’t remember February 1964 (from the date alone), that was the month the Beatles threw the Beach Boys under the bus and planted a giant Union Jack on every radio station tower from New York to San Diego.
It was as if some rock star decided to move into your spare bedroom. It is almost impossible to explain what happened. Either you were THERE... or you weren't.
Okay, this might help you understand February 1964: Imagine that everyone you knew in high school fell in love with the same guy (let's call him Dave) on the same day... and all your friends spent every day talking about how much they loved Dave and what his favorite color was, and what he liked to eat for lunch, and what kind of girl he wanted as his girlfriend. And, a few days later, you find out that every girl in every high school in the world is also in love with Dave and every one of them has his photo on their nightstand. ... It's like.... weird... but cool... in a strangely bonding way.
Well, the earnestness and intensity of Beatlemania changed the life of every single person in America (and most of the world) who was between 10 and 18: Beatles bubblegum trading cards, Fab Four lunchboxes, Ringo boots, and God knows what else. But, Beatlemania also brought hip London-based fashion to the masses of gangly American teens and preteens.
1964 spanned a lot of stunning fashion styles as couturiers let their imaginations fly to capture amazingly creative looks for an affluent mid-sixties world. It seemed like the earth’s atmosphere was suddenly filled with some kind of artistic oxygen which gave everyone an inventive burst.
Dramatic energy was everywhere and fashion jumped well outside of 1950s norms, with things like Space Fashion (inspired by America's quest to reach the moon), Beatles' fashion (or anything worn by their girlfriends), and any type of clothing that looked like it could have come from Carnaby Street.
Eventually, we came to call these styles Mod, but the term was used a bit differently in the US than in the UK. To Americans, Mod just meant Carnaby Street fashion, while in Britain, Mod meant an entire subculture, as in Mods and Rockers.
Courrèges Mini Skirts and Space Inspired Fashion
Mini skirts and mini dresses started popping up on hip Americans during the early months of 1964. Both Andre Courrèges, a French fashion designer, and Mary Quant, a British designer, claimed to have invented the mini. The truth is (most likely) that Courrèges invented the mini dress and Mary Quant popularized it.
Courrèges was extremely adventurous with design and he hit the world head on with his 1964 Space Age Collection. His trend-setting designs reflected the excitement of the first manned rockets to orbit the earth in 1963. This unique collection mimicked the colors (white and silver) of real spacesuits and the hats mimicked the white space helmets (or became American-oriented space-cowgirl hats):
The Original Mini Dresses Were Long
The original mini dresses were not very short... just above the knee. And, girls would have been sent home from school, back in the day, if their hemlines were more than one or two inches above their knees or if they rolled their skirts up too high.
Mary Quant Fashions
Mary Quant is the British designer who spread the mini-dress trend around the globe. Because Mary Quant was from London (epicenter of the youthquake) Baby Boomers gobbled up her Mod fashion designs in their nonstop anglophilic quest.
Anything from England was from the land of the gods, and teens even acquired fake Cockney accents in an attempt to sound cool.
One interesting note is that Quant was one of the first designers to take inspiration from street fashion. Normally, fashion had been a top down couture-house dictatorship.
- Mary Quant Wearing Color Blocking Oh dear, I'm not quite sure if that's Mary Quant or Peggy Moffit.
- Mary Quant Styles From Carnaby Street
- Mary-Quant-Inspired Dress (Moschino)
If you want a legit Mod look, you should wear white (or colored) tights under your vintage or retro-style minis. And, you should go graphic with white (or pale) lipstick and white nail polish. Birds (the Brit term for chick) who want to really rock this look should wear Twiggy eye makeup (painted-on lower lashes) even though Twiggy wasn't big until about 1965. (If you're a Baby Boomer woman, you should save this eye makeup for costume parties and/or very dark rooms.)
Mod Clothing From the 1960s
Mod fashions came from Carnaby Street boutiques in London. These cool threads fascinated Baby Boomers who couldn't get enough of British-inspired designs. Lucky Boomers like myself made it to Carnaby Street (and Harrod's teen department) back when the exchange rate rocked in the favor of the US dollar (in '65 or '66, whenever Revolver came out) and we had the joy of showing off real Mod clothing to our provincial pals in the states.
Fashion Icons From Mid Sixties
Anyone who is interested in fab Mod styles might want to try googling some of these people:
Lots of women and girls look great in Mod clothing. If you have good legs, you should try this style for trendy, structured daywear.
Mod fashion is not just for Halloween costumes. There is a real resurgence in Mod clothing. So, look around online because Mod designs can get really outrageous and fun. But, don’t forget to wear the colored tights, cute boots of any kind, and a great British schoolboy cap.
More Fab Fashion Articles for Baby Boomer Women:
Photo Credits: Prshots.com.
- Main Photo: Simply Be (2013).
- Retro Mod Fashions: LaRedoute (2015).
- Current Mod Coat & Dresses: Very, F&F, Joy (2015).
- Mod Fashion: British Retro Style of the 60s: House of Fraser (2013).
- Mod Inspired Dresses - 2015: Love Moschino, Lipsy, Love Moschino, Love Moschino (all at Asos 2015).
- Mod Retro Outfits for Women: LaRedoute, Yumi, Yumi (2013).
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