Wednesday, November 12, 2014

60's Fashion elements - The gritty and glamorous 1930's

Its been over a year since the last "Fashion elements" post. I know! I'm terrible!! But there's a lot to research and now I can finally give you a new design element that I've been enjoying noticing since watching Bonnie and Clyde and reading the "Sixties Fashion" book. 

The 1930s gave the 60s a lot of inspiration in the mid to late 60s, via films and designers who looked to the past for inspiration from the heros and characters that drove folk lore and adorned the screens during the dark depression era. So many films were produced in that period, that one would think there was no depression in LA, but there surely was and the films were often used as an escape from real life for everyday people. The fantasy of those films and outlaws like Bonnie and Clyde remained so ingrained in peoples memories that it was bound to repeat itself at some point. 

The story of Bonnie and Clyde was a perfect segue for the 30s to introduce itself to the 60s. One of things that really drove the popularity of this film in 1967 was the fashions and of course fantastical story line of Bonnie and Clyde. 

So popular was the films fashion that designers such as Yves Saint Laurent Norman Norell both designed collections based of Bonnie's outfits as played by Faye Dunaway

The styling of the film, became a strong influence behind the return of sweater coats, midi skirts, gangster style striped suiting, lace up shoes and chiffon dinner dresses with bows and scarves at the throat for Autumn 1967

Brigitte Bardot in a promotional still for the Bonnie and Clyde duetwith Serge Gainsberg

It was reported in Life January 1968 that Fay Dunaway had done for the beret what Bardot had done for the bikini.
Interestingly, the film also spawned a sultry duet between Bardot and Serge Gainsberg in 1968.

Clockwise from top left:Jean Shrimpton models a striped denim mini-dress with a floral blouse and large white cravat, 1969. Vogue 365 gallery - Vogue Australia Super chic Biba suit, 1960s. Twiggy by Helmut Newton for Vogue UK. Scanned by Sweet Jane September 15 1967Rave Fashion For Valentine’s Day 1968. Image scanned by Sweet Jane.

Princely Prince of Wales check suit, sleek long jacket with double butons, no back vent but plenty of fit. Handsome cuffed trousers, high-buttoned waistcoat. By Paul Babb and Pamela Procter for Twiggy: Scanned by Sweet Jane from VOGUE September 15 1967

Elements of 1930s fashion had popped up before, but it had taken the impact of the film to bring about a new blend of the relaxed 1930s look with the leggy swinging 60s.

Junge Mode Burda International 1967

LĂ©acril knitting fashion, ELLE (France) November 1968
Yves Saint Laurent's 1930s Nostalgic style Spring 1968

Bonnie and Clyde brand of shoes, Canada, Spring 1969

Gangster Striped suite by Spanish designer Mir, Spring 1968

While high fashion embraced whole hog of 1930s styling, young women and teens preferred a softer reference with a spectrum of colours, but with the same slim cuts, boxy blazers, knee length pleated skirts, knee socks, ties and berets. 

In France, young women were reportedly storming the boutiques for longer skirts after the film debuted there in Janurary 1968, confusing the press with which skirt length was the most popular. Was it the mini or the midi? Hemlines once again started to shift about, allowing designers and women the chance to choose their preferred hemline depending on their mood. 

Colleen Corby and others modelling for Bobbie Brooks 

A 1930's tennis style dress. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Nova, April 1968

A perfect example of the trend. Berets, knee socks, loose cardigans, ties and two tone shoes

The many looks of Bobbie Brooks, Avenue (Dutch) November 1968


On the more glamorous side of things, the golden age of Hollywood also served as inspiration for designers such as Ossie Clark and Barbara Hulanicki

Biba fashion advertisement illustrated by Kasia Charko, Summer 1974

Both Barbara and Ossie were well known for their use of luxurious fabrics, bias cut gowns and accessorising with furs and bangles, and styling their models with tight curls and bow lips.

Clockwise from top left: Biba kimono sleeve dressing gownBiba grid print coatBiba striped lurex maxi dress; Biba ruched sleeve dress
For Barbara Hulanicki, the 1930's had been stylish since she fell in love with the stars of Hollywood while escaping to watch films as a child. Barbara incorporated the silky dresses of Jean Harlow and glamorous sets of Hollywood films into the stylised prints of flowers and abstract shapes into the fabric prints of her garments - as in the above images

Detail of Biba mail order catalogue 1968-9
Sewing patterns also took up this trend initiated by Bonnie and Clyde, with drop waists, pleated skirts, double breasted tunics and relaxed fit twin sets. Pattern illustrations also included pinstriping and and two tone shoes

Whereas the sexier Hollywood version of the 30s were also celebrated with patterns for bias cut gowns with puffed sleeves, detailed bust lines and other small details that seems to have been lifted right out of the sets of "The Women" or "Top Hat"

The 1930s revival appealed to both city women with cash to spend and suburban teenage girls shopping at their local JC Penny's. It was both sultry and alluring, but also safe and trendy with a hint of danger, perfect for women and girls on the cusp of a gender revolution.

I wonder what films will influence fashion in the coming years? The recent revival of The Great Gatsby drove a small trend a few years back, but with fashion being the way it is, was a mere blimp compared to the great influence the 30s revival had on 60s fashion

What is your favourite of the two styles? Do you prefer the preppy but dangerous Bonnie or the slinky Hollywood siren?

Cat xo


  1. Oh I can't decide - I guess it would depend on my mood!

    Love all the pics you've included and really interesting to read what am affect that film had on 60's fashions :)

    1. thank you! I dont think films have as much impact on fashion as they used to. unless they do, but more on the cool hip teenagers? There are so many ways to trace revivalist fashion and movies together. The 70s great gatsby with mia farrow also let to a little revival in the 70s and 80s for drop waists and perhaps even for excessive champagne consumption?!

  2. Great post. Thanks for this - many half-memories from the Sixties. I think Diana Vreeland said that your fashion pinnacle is the decade in which you're a child and the fashions seem so adult and unattainable. For me, I think it's the preppy look veering towards mod. Love the 30s and the Biba line drawings (who wouldn't?) but couldn't carry that look. I wonder what the weekly wage was? I can imagine women flocking to Biba on a Saturday and getting a skirt, top and rose. Oh, the glam and romance in one of their roses. I visited Biba once when about ten years old and it really was another world of indulgent nail polish, vampy eyeshadow - really putting together a look, almost a performance. Did this all lead into glam rock, T-Rex? Ken Russell's 'The Boyfriend'? OK. Enjoying myself too much. Off to work. Thanks again : )

    1. awww i love to hear people Biba memories! What are these roses though? I dont think i have heard of them before. is it just a fresh cut rose or a sort of make up? Biba doing 30s certainly is the most glamorous. I cant wait to see if Barbara Hulanicki's collection with House of Frazer will pick up on this again?

    2. I didn't know about the HoF collection - thanks for the info. The roses were fabric roses - you can see one for the princely sum of 65p in the ad above - you attached them to t-shirts, dresses, belts, necklines, hats, bags - whatever. A very affordable buy to give you a Biba look. I remember them being in dusty, rich colours (soft pink, ripe plum, inky navy, chocolate brown) with big silky, layered petals with a drowsy, indulgent, sumptuous feel. And the make-up came in pots of smudgy colour.

  3. Great post Cat, I'm not sure I can decide on a favourite style - I love them all!

  4. Oh I just LOVE the 20s and 30s elements you find in late 60s and early 70s fashion. My two favorite eras to sew because of all the interesting puffs and lines!! I made a blog post about it not long ago:

    1. Ahh! I see we had similar ideas! The Sixties fashion book certainly pointed out the 20s and 30s as being really important, so i had to be sure to share that. you dont often realise the small little influences in fashion until someone points them out to you!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this post. I've lately actually been pining over beautiful dresses from the late sixties with elements such as what you've described paired with dark lipstick and smokey eyes. I especially love the influence that the time had over Ossie Clark and Barbara's designs - so swoonworthy and chic and such beautiful silhouettes to the clothing!

    1. im glad to hear! thank you! Have you ready any of the biba boks? they will totally take you into another world, one which i almost now see as separate to the rest of 60s fashion and there was no comparison, except may Ossie to Biba.
      I'd love to see some of your outfit posts like that. The darker side of Lucy!

  6. Hi, I've just found your blog and congratulate you on your research. However, having lived through the 60's can I add that at the beginning of the 1960's [as a left over from 1959 on] the 1920's were the vogue. This is evident in the shift dresses of Twiggy and Mary Quant, you were quite right though to say that the 1930's influence was there too, but only at the latter half of the 1960's - a natural progression on I suppose. I too love the 1960's for the simplicity and elegance of the earlier designs - Audrey Hepburn captured it beautifully.

    1. Thank you! And yes, i do agree, the 20s was quite strong in influencing the early 60s. I have so many patterns with drop waists and little collars and so on which look like the casual wear of the 20s. The Bonnie and Clyde movie didn't come out till 1967 so the next level of influence i guess didn't happen till the late 60s anyway, like you said. Such a small time frame, but still interesting to see how the influences moved slightly but only by a decade. and then back to the 20s by the time the 70s came around anyway!!

  7. What a visual feast of a post, Cat!
    The 1970s drew on so many of the 1930s influences, didn't it? Obviously I'd veer more towards the 1970s for the freedom women had as opposed to the rigidity of the 1930s, unless of course, you were a film star or a member of the British aristocracy.
    I remember watching Bonnie and Clyde as a little girl and being entranced with Faye Dunaway's screen style.
    Have you seen the BBC's epic Peaky Blinders yet? The post First World War style was incredible, brocade opera coats with fur collars and cuffs, tapestry handbags, elbow length gloves, lace-up boots and Mary Jane shoes, just gorgeous. xxx

    1. thanks! and i agree, 70s is much better, but yes the idea of being a glamorous actress is so attractive!
      I keep seeing Peaky Blinders mentioned on your blog! ill have to take a peek at it, if there is clothing as you described in there!!!

  8. Such gorgeous images here! I tend to think of the 1970s as being more influenced by the Art Deco style of the 1930s, but you're right, it began in the late 60s. Faye Dunaway's costumes in Bonnie and Clyde were wonderful. Fabulous to see those Biba catalogue illustrations! xxx

    1. indeed! the late 60s took on the 30s and the early 60s, the 20s. but there are so many similarities between the two really. fashion didnt move a terrible lot in the depression.

  9. I love this era fashion because its loose and chic.

    1. agreed! i like the idea of not having such clingy clothes. except those lovely bias gows for going out at the evening!


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