32 Glorious Photos of '60s Fashion In Full Swing

The best fashion decade ever, or the best fashion decade ever?

60s fashion - earrings and hair pins
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The 1960s is perhaps most well-known for its "flower child" aesthetic towards the end of the decade: bell-bottoms, floral designs, and long, flowy hair. But the decade also featured '60s icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Diana Ross, Cher, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Jane Birkin, among others (not to mention cultural influences like Andy Warhol and the Beatles). It was a decade of great change, in part in reaction to the more buttoned-up '50s style aesthetic.

Many of these photos capture these cutting-edge trends. Some come from magazine shoots and other professional photo sessions from designers; others come directly from the aforementioned icons, whose '60s style was emulated and revered—and remains so today.

Below, 32 photos that prove the '60s was the best fashion decade.

Fancy Swimwear

60s fashion - swimsuit and cap

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While the two-piece bathing suit was first invented in the 1940s, we still loved a classic one-piece in the '60s. Add in a little visual flair, like this decorated swim cap and criss-cross low back design of the suit, and you're ready to hit the surf.

Pattern Mixing

60s fashion - stripes and pattern black and white

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This feels very Audrey Hepburn-esque with a little added chaos. This is from a London fashion week in 1965 (back when that type of event was fairly new and fresh), and this kind of surprise and innovation is exactly what made fashion events so exciting—even for casual onlookers.

Bold Colors

60s fashion - cut out leather colors

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No surprise, but this photo of Pat Evans is from a 1968 photoshoot. (It's not the most wearable, practical garment, is all I'm saying.) But the use of pattern in ever more edgy and innovative ways is also a cool '60s trend that would be taken to the extreme the following decade.

Contrasting Headgear

60s fashion - pillbox esque hat

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It's estimated this photo was taken in the early 1960s, which makes sense: the pillbox hat, popularized by Jackie Kennedy, was especially relevant in the years she was First Lady (1961 to 1963). This topper looks to have a bow embellishment in the back and offers contrast to the rest of the outfit as a pop of yellow.

Color Blocking

60s fashion - green, purple, yellow dresses

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This mid-1960s photoshoot shows some of the decade's evolution: more streamlined silhouettes, bolder colors, higher hemlines (not to mention shorter hair). The rise of Twiggy and the "waifish" supermodel would mean that look would be popular for several years.

Gingham

60s fashion - gingham dress

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This look feels like a throwback in the most incredible way. It makes sense, then, that this photo was taken in an antiques shop in the early '60s and features a conservative hairdo as well as a small, delicate gingham pattern on a full-coverage dress.

Plaid

60s fashion - plaid dress

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Patterns would get new life, in new ways, in the '60s. This model is apparently only 14(!) and you can see the youthful daring even with a traditional plaid pattern: continuing the black and red onto the tights in a slightly contrasting print for an unexpected twist.

Houndstooth

60s fashion - houndstooth dress

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One way to make prints and patterns more surprising is to enlarge them, as is the case with this pretty green houndstooth (sometimes referred to as dog-tooth). The rest of the outfits is classic—coat and matching dress underneath—to help the pattern be the star of the show.

'Breakfast at Tiffanys'

60s fashion - blue dress

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By the time this photo was taken in 1964, Breakfast at Tiffany's would have been released around three years ago. This, created by the Fontana Sisters of Rome, shows some of that influence, including the large formal hairdo, glittery jewelry, and long gloves.

Crisp Coat Dresses

60s fashion - teal coat dress

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I can't help feeling this wouldn't be out of place for a modern royal like Kate Middleton to wear at a formal event. And, in fact, this was pretty close to Queen Elizabeth's style in this decade—showing that royals have influenced fashion for a long time.

Dramatic Capes

60s fashion - black cape

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This is from Valentino, one of Jackie Kennedy's favorite designers—and you can totally see it. This is apparently from the late '60s, but still channels a more conservative style; we do get some welcome drama, though, in the glamorous cape style, higher hemline, and angled hat.

Plane Style

1960s fashion - twiggy on plane

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Twiggy and manager/partner at the time, Justin de Villeneuve, look relaxed and ready to jet-set. While our modern iteration of "airport style" wouldn't be around for a while, getting dressed up to fly in a plane was clearly still a tradition people embraced.

Dressing Like Jackie O

60s fashion - two women in front of a plane

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It's hard to overstate how much influence Jackie Kennedy had during the years she was First Lady (and through the whole decade, really). This photo was taken in 1961, at her peak popularity—and you can tell, thanks to the matching bouffants, the conservative but elegant clothing, and the classic black pumps.

Apres-Ski

60s fashion - woman in ski outfit

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Looking like you came off the ski slopes (or in this case, are still on the slopes) isn't necessarily a modern invention, as this photo indicates. Commercial skiing first became popular in the '50s, but the chic, elegant, effortless vibes of ski style were still in their early stages.

Casual Brigitte

60s fashion - brigitte bardot

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Brigitte Bardot was an absolute style icon in the 1960s, and her trademark casual style (including very messy beehive) was a part of that allure. Skinny cigarette-style jeans and a simple black tee felt elevated and styled when she was wearing them.

Futuristic Style

60s fashion - women in minis and boots

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"Mod" (short for modernist) style originated in London in the '60s; for the women, it meant shorter hair, shorter skirts, and more androgynous styling (including boots). It was an important subculture in the '60s and its repercussions can still be felt today.

Space Age

60s fashion - silver outfits

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Taking modernist style to the extreme, this futuristic (and still deeply shiny) look may feel a little over the top now. (It wouldn't be out of place in an Austin Powers movie, no?) But at a 1968 Paris fashion week, this space age style must have been very new and exciting.

Shades of Neon

60s fashion - neon flower dress

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This, from the early '60s, is quite prescient in terms of how color and patterns would come to define the decade. This is pretty and polished; other, less "frilly" styles would emerge, but this was a good place to start. I could see this being sold as a dress today!

Boat Dressing

60s fashion - women in dresses on a boat

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In a similar way to dressing for an airplane trip or skiing adventure, formal boatwear was a lot like going to a fancy party (depending on the context, it still can be!). Technically, this is a cruise to Bermuda in the early '60s, and, frankly, these summer dresses are stunning.

Schoolgirl Chic

60s fashion - schoolgirl outfit

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This, from the late 1960s, is in the middle of the "waifish" model trend. The overall vibe is youthful and streamlined, but the oversized floppy hat (which would become a mainstay in the '70s) and oversized bow help bring in a little delicacy and brightness.

Pretty Pants

60s fashion - polka dot pants

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This, from the early '60s, is very pattern-heavy in a way that I appreciate. The oversized polka dots are just so whimsical, but it feels like the simplicity of the rest of the outfit and the shiny jewelry and heels keep it away from feeling too "clown-adjacent."

Youthful Stripes

60s fashion - joan collins

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I almost couldn't believe that this was a young Joan Collins (it's a far cry from her later style, but I feel like she looks so trendy here). A simple striped shirt, dark eyeshadow, and a shorter, less voluminous hairstyle gives her a youthful glow with a peek at that trademark charisma.

Animal Print

60s fashion - leopard coats

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If you're wondering why these women look so uniform, they're dancers from the Norbert Schmitt Corps de Ballet, apparently, and they're modeling Dior coats. Perfect! No notes! Minus the matching leopard pants, a statement coat like this would absolutely work today.

Mini Minis

60s fashion - studded mini skirt

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The mini became indelibly linked with '60s fashion, both as a sign of liberation and move away from '50s fashion, with a dash of social liberation for good measure. No surprise, the style was controversial, but the length could be made more modest thanks to some strategically deployed tights.

Street Style

60s fashion - jean shrimpton

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An icon of the early '60s, supermodel Jean Shrimpton was probably most well-known for her street style photos with David Bailey (a style of photography that wasn't as mainstream—the duo helped popularize it). This corduroy jacket and bellbottom look: perfection.

Business Style

60s fashion - models in skirts and dresses

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A slightly more button-up version of mod style, these slightly longer hemlines and practical (but deeply stylish) pumps—taken from a 1967 photoshoot—would have been perfect for office work. Honestly, some of these would pass muster today, with some slightly updated hairstyles.

Brigitte in Leather

60s fashion - brigitte bardot

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While Brigitte Bardot's casual style get a lot of attention, her bombshell looks—like this one, where she's just arrived in London for the premiere of one of her films—are equally awesome. Now this, in head-to-toe leather including her hat, is airport style!

Prickly Flowers

60s fashion - metal flower dress

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This is by Paco Rabanne and is apparently made of vinyl, plastic, and steel (the rosettes are plastic and silver lame, the dress is jersey, and it's all held together with vinyl strips and steel rings). Once again, proof that fashion innovation was going strong in the '60s.

Flower Child

60s fashion - floral dresses

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While the floral and paisley prints of the late '60s can look a bit dated today (this photoshoot is from 1966 and was apparently for Glamour), I would argue it's all about the styling. Getting some contrasting accessories and some fashion sneakers would modernize this in no time.

Sleek Trousers

60s fashion - trousers

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The thin, paperbag style, cigarette-style pant (tapered but not adhering to the leg) is very professional '60s in a way I appreciate. There's a reason why this pant style is considered a classic and—regardless of ensuing trends—has remained fashionable to modern audiences.

Marilyn

60s fashion - marilyn monroe

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Before she died in 1962, Marilyn Monroe was probably the most influential celebrity we had. Much attention is paid to her skintight gowns and costumes, but I'm more enamored with her casual style: jeans, boots, an Oxford shirt, and her classic red lipstick.

Jane

60s fashion - jane birkin

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Ah, Jane! It would be cliche to lay all cool '60s style at the feet of a single person, but Jane Birkin is about as influential as they come. Her basket bags, her wispy hair, her casual but still incredibly styled looks: many women consider her a muse today, including myself.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.