Unisex clothing was a natural progression from changes in both women’s and men’s roles in society. When looking ahead many fashion designers predicted that people would wear unisex clothing in the future and ever since the 1960s it has been a valid look for both men and women.
Some women began to wear men’s jeans and t-shirts in the late 1950s. In the 1960s jeans became a growing cult and by the end of the decade this look was widespread. With men growing their hair long and females with boyish figures, it became difficult to distinguish a boy from a girl in the 60s. Mass manufacturing of clothing meant it was possible for couples to walk around in exactly the same outfits. Both boys and girls wore long hair, headbands, worn out jeans and sloppy casual outfits.
Many adults feared that the gender switches of the young would bring about a rise in homosexuality. Not so, said the younger generation: It’s just that we talk about it more openly.”
There was a renaissance in the refinement of men’s fashion during the early 1960s as it was influenced by Italian designers. Men’s suits became more tight fitting. Formal leisure suits and single breasted suits with short tailored jackets and narrow lapels worn with narrow collared shirts and thin ties became popular. The mods proved that men could care about the clothes they wore. This attitude allowed changes in men’s fashion as the decade progressed.
Narrow pants were worn by the fashionable young with ‘winkle picker’ shoes. Longer hair replaced the crew-cut, but it was still slicked back with oil and gel. Facial hair became more respectable and sideburns became popular. Custom made tailoring remained a tradition for men. Chelsea boots became fashionable.
In the late 60’s men’s dress became more fancy and feminine. Men grew their hair, wore wide polka dotted ties, paisley flouncy shirts in fluorescent colors and bell-bottomed velvet pants. The ‘peacock’ style of dressing became popular with men. Men dressed up as a form of self-expression or to attract women. Fashion designers strengthened their colours and made tight fitting trousers for men in bright and bold, purple and orange, flower prints on velvet fabric combinations. Jewelery collections were launched for men.
Pants for Women
In the sixties pants became an accepted fashion garment for women. When the leg wasn’t being revealed by the mini it was concealed beneath trousers. Styles like hipsters, bell bottoms and sailor trousers were popular. Pants for women were part of the new unisex fashion style that was becoming popular and the distinction between men and women’s clothing became less and less. One of the frequent complaints was “You can’t tell the boys from the girls these days”. When woman stopped wearing bras, one Government department circulated the following memo “In future, female employees will wear bras but no pants.”
As early as 1964 the trouser-suit for women had been launched in Paris by Courreges. Woman wearing pant suits were not allowed in clubs and restaurants and were banned from wearing them in the office. However, apart from this, pant suits became a permanent feature of women’s wardrobes. Masculine trouser suits in charcoal-grey pinstripe and herring bone tweed and also black velvet or corduroy were created for women. In 1964, John Bates, working for Jean Varon, designed a pair of trousers with key holes at the knees.
‘Moon Girl’ pant suits were not popular in many countries despite being high fashion in Paris. Girls wearing them were usually not allowed to enter restaurants and clubs. Another popular combination was the mini dress worn with trousers, which enjoyed a revival in the late 1990’s. Pinstripe suits, with pants or skirts, for women were the winter uniform according to an English manufacturer who dressed the models like businessmen from the city of London complete with bowler hats and furled umbrellas.
By 1970 designers were over the pretty feminine peasant styles that had been popular and created trouser-styles which were all the rage in London.
Winter clothes were a long-term investment. They had to be warm and wearable, have a fashionable line and be hard-wearing. Jackets were made with the highest standards of workmanship and in designer fabric.
Reversible clothes were popular as were fur trimmed coats. These were made with matching dresses or skirts.
The maxi look of long Russian inspired coats was designed to be worn over minis or trousers. They cost a fortune to be dry cleaned and some people were violently against the look