Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book review - Sixties Fashion - From 'Less is more' to Youthquake

Last year I found this sturdy tome at Pentimento in Newtown and promised myself I would buy it on my next visit. Well it took another 6 months before I bought it and another few months after that before I read it.
In order to read any book I have to read it during my transit to and from work because home time is spent sewing or some such activity, so I had to carry this around with me each day and pull it out for the two 20 minute train rides. I get a lot of funny looks but there's no other way for me to read it! 

And being that its so big and thick I do have to read it quickly so that I'm only carrying it for a week at max, so there are plenty of post-it notes strewn through out which you'll see in the photos.

Cover art brought to you by Microsoft Word basic package

The front cover art is really a let down. It looks like it might have been a sketch design which the publisher accidentally approved and let go to print without changing the font or changing the base colour. Oh well!

The book itself is excellently written and manages to match up photos with text - which I always find annoying if a book is talking about one such dress, but its no where to be found in the actual book. They also cleverly pair up particular designs with their advertisement or a photo of someone wearing the garment. I like this pairing of real and modelled. So many vintage garments are cooped up in museums we hardly get the chance to see them move, bend, or shine in the light

Indian Gilt thread embroidered black silk apres-ski top by Charles Adams of Switzerland c.1961

'Roman Roads' print silk dress by Pucci c.1960

The book is presented chronologically - but doesn't make specific chapters for each year - the paragraphs sort of flow into each other, but great details are described of the high fashion world in the early 60's and its eventual demise in the late 60's. 

There is plenty of talk about the Paris fashion scene which eventually attention is moved to New York and London youth fashion as expected. Its actually quite refreshing to read about it in this order

The Mods monthly - A publication for Mods living outside of London first published in March 1964

Breaking up the talk of who is showing what in Paris the books delves deeply into various side trends like Youthquake, mens fashion, the influence of certain movies on fashion, accessories, wigs, hats, hippies, paper clothing and mini's of course! 

An interesting topic it speaks of is trousers. I didn't realise how much controversy they caused in the 60s! But it was almost expected that you wouldn't be allowed in a hotel for wearing them - even though smart trousers were something that women had been wearing for a number of years at home, out shopping or on holiday

Blue and Purple print shirtwaist dress by Twiggy, c.1967

'The accent is Paris" Andre Courreges and Yves Saint Laurent interpreted for the Canadian Juniors market by Eaton's 1966

Blue rayon tie dress by Mary Quant, Spring 1968, and models wearing the dress in London with Quant herself on the right, March 1968

Pink Nylon windowpane stockings c.1966-68. And Twiggy mesh stockings by Simpsons-Sears, Canada, Spring 1968. With the leg so exposed by mini skirts, more patterned stockings featuring designs from ankle tattoos to windowpane mesh appeared on the market

Pop art necklace print cotton dress, sold throughout the US, Spring 1965

Right: Printed cotton shift by Dynasty, Hong Kong c. 1965-1967. Left: Beaded discotheque dress made in Hong Kong by Malcom Starr c.1965-67

Left: Bead and sequin dress by Harry Algo. Paris c.1967-68, Middle: Printed silk harem skirt evening dress by Pucci, Florence c.1965. Right: Silk Chiffon evening gown with large paillettes decorating the halter top, Oscar De La Renta for Jane Derby c. 1966-67

Dresses by Yves Saint Laurent Autumn 1966
Orange and Pink striped sleeveless shift by Youth Guild, New York c. 1966-67
I love this outfit!

White paper ball gown created by Walter Holmes to showcase the materials potential September 1965

Paper earrings set by Harry Gordon - one of the many possibilities for paper c. 1967-68

American floral embroidered boots by Jerry Edouard c. 1967

Dynel wigs advertisement April 1962

A return to to the romantic look - American ruffled silk chiffon dress, unlabelled spring 1968

Rosina Ferragamo shoes, c. 1969-70 that pick up on the trend for patch work

Black and white empire-waist dress by Geoffrey Beene New York Spring 1969

Leather and suede outfit with midi hemline but mini slit in front c. 1970

Transparent blouse by Oscar De La Renta Paris and unlabelled "gypsy" skirt c. 1969-70

All in all its a very comprehensive book in sixties fashion and worth the price and lugging around for the week. And when I finally get back to writing my "Dressing the decade" posts, this book will be much relied on. 

I give it 4 and a half out of 5 stars (yeah I'm giving out stars now like a movie reviewer)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend all! Read a book or take a lovely walk outside and enjoy the change of seasons

Cat xo


  1. I've been meaning to get this book so it was interesting to read your review on it. I agree that the cover art is a bit of a let down but the book itself looks like a great read - definitely one to add to the list!

    1. haha yes! it is a bit sad... But the inside is so much prettier!

  2. O, this book is brilliant! I'm plotting to find my own copy!

  3. It's so nice to see a book that has more than just the standard 60's photos. So many just look the same as they use the same basic photos. This looks choc a block filled with so much eye candy!

    1. yes! i get what you mean. so many use the same old photos floating around on Pinterest, it was good to see some that made me really want this book for sure!

  4. This book looks fabulous, such wonderful images, and if the text is good too, so much the better! Thanks for the review. xxx

    1. yes, its very well written! And references lots of other books which I have read or heard of so I was really happy with purchasing it

  5. What a great book - I could lose days looking at all the beautiful clothes. I'll be adding it to my wish list for sure!

    1. yeah! its awesome and you should totally get it! yay!

  6. I can't have enough books about vintage fashion, so I'll definitely try and find myself a copy of this book!
    And how fun: I think I might have the exact same blue and purple psychedelic fabric in my stash as the one used for that Twiggy shirtwaist dress!

    1. wow! that dress is so cute! if you ever sew with that dress you totally should make something similar!

  7. I literally found myself 'oohing' and 'ahhing' at the pages of the book that you've shown here. It really looks fabulous, and that blue Twiggy dress is a dream!

    1. yay! i love that dress as well. and the pink and orange one. so much eye candy!

  8. That book is incredible, loving the orange and pink striped number, the ruffled confection and those boots! xxx

    1. yes! thats my favourite for sure. pink and orange forever!

  9. Looks great! May have to put that one on my Christmas list!

    1. oh do! its fabulous and really handy and full of so much good information


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