Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dressing the Decade - 1961

Oh my, this cold is a brute – pair that with my lovely new orthodontic spacers (I’m getting braces next week) and I’ve got the sorest head in the Southern Hemisphere!

To distract myself from this (and to avoid watching snoozy election night coverage) I bring to you the next installment of Dressing the Decade – 1961!

Women’s clothing in 1961 saw a slight loosening of the waist line but while still paying tribute to the natural figure. While the fit and flare styles had still not disappeared with the young, high fashion houses began to relax the silhouette

McCalls 5777
Vogue 5265
Simplicity 3780
Skirts remained tight and jackets and tunic tops were boxy and loose worn over the skirt or sometimes belted for those who still liked the fitted look. This usually ended at the hip-line and was included into the new style of suit – with a boxy jacket and loose fitting skirt

Vogue 4249
McCalls 6009
Vogue 4207
Vogue 1049

Coats continued with their relaxed loose look and curved downward and created a slouch look – with hidden pockets in the sides of coats and dresses.

Vogue 1067
McCalls 6006

Skirts also took a new shape with a rounded bubble effect - especially for evening dresses

Vogue 1509
Advance 9661

Necklines were widened into boat neck styles – either simple or in the case of coats, built up with standing collars, bows and fur.               
The wide neckline and sloping shoulders created length in the neck – aided by chic short hairstyles – long hair was tied into a pony tail or chignon

McCalls 5767
Butterick 2137
Vogue 1048
Vogue 5211

Bare throats and arms added to the oncoming youth look and skirts were getting just a little bit shorter – but not too much! And the bust became more pronounced with smaller arm holes and clever darts

1961 is the year Breakfast at Tiffany’s debuted – with most of the wardrobe designed by Givenchy, you can see most of these details in Audrey Hepburn’s outfits – the wide neck, sweet chignon hair style and loose tunics

The beatnik style had be put through the commercial ringer and came out with cute clam-digger type pants for women, paired with tunic tops, jumper dresses and ballet slippers.

Butterick 2111
McCalls 6143
Background dresses, while popular in the 50s, were slowly coming back to the forefront. The idea of the background dress was that it was a simple one colour dress, which you dressed up with jewels, scarves, different jackets and other accessories. I guess we would call this a basics dress and would be now available in every store in lots of fabrics, but the 60s style didn’t skimp on fabric and was made in silks, bouclĂ© knits and other fine fabrics

McCalls 5894
McCalls 5883
McCalls 5928

The last notable feature of 1961 was the pill box hat – popularised by Jackie Kennedy

Vogue 5352
And finally some of my favourites!

McCalls 6794

McCalls 6187
Vogue 1061
Simplicity 4014
McCalls 6206
McCalls 6164
Vogue 4248
McCalls 6207
The nice thing about 1961 is that you begin to see the loose silhouette coming to form which was explored further the early to mid 60s. Pants and Shorts had a chic summer look and the beatnick style became more acceptable but in brighter colours and matching twin sets

Whats your opinion on the styles of 1961?

See the previous edition for 1960 here

Cat xo


  1. Hello, dear Catherine, and thank you for another interesting and educational post. It's fascinating to note the subtle and not so subtle changes as we wind our way through the styles of the schizophrenic Sixties!

    I was age 11 in 1961 and it's great fun to recall what well dressed women were wearing at the time. I loved the Kennedys but, truth be told, but I did not consider Jackie very attractive, especially in her pill box hat. I was/am also not very fond of beatnik style and clam-diggers, slacks or pants, preferring dresses and skirts instead. A typical male, I have always appreciated women who project a more feminine look. I especially like the sleeveless outfits shown here. I suppose you could say I fully support a woman's right to bare arms. :)

    Please get well soon, my dear friend. I'm thinking about you!

    1. well even at 11 i'm glad you could remember the fashions. Most 11 year old boys wouldn't notice the difference!
      Glad you liked the post too

  2. Don't you just love the attention to design details on clothing coming from that period?

    Today it's all about prints and embellishments... but I still like a good old "background dress" with a nice detail, like the V shape on McCalls 5883, the rounded wrap skirt on McCalls 5894 or the lovely asymetrical lines of McCalls 5767 (I SO want to make that yellow polka dot dress!).

    Thanks for the lovely selection of fashion eye candy!

    1. oh yes, they're very nice. a little fold or a bow here makes all the difference.
      5767 is such a nice dress - yellow polkadots would be the best, i think the illustrator picked a good one there!

  3. I love the beatnik style, I often wear slacks and recently made a pair using a McCalls pattern (I've yet to take a picture though!). I'm not so keen on the boxy suit and pill box hat look but I do love the attention to detail on all the patterns. It's really interesting studying the different fashions via sewing patterns, great post!

    I hope the pain is easing up for you, as a former brace wearer myself I know how painful and uncomfortable it can be! x

    1. Oh cool i cant wait to see them! Im still not that good at pants would you believe. All the fly zippers and so on are intimidating.
      Thanks for much for your kind words - they haven't eased up yet after 4 days, but i'm enjoying eating jelly and apple puree!

  4. I hope your pain and discomfort lessens soon.

    Thanks for this post. I'm a big fan of the whole 1960's decade of fashion,and I really enjoy getting an education about the different styles of this decade from dedicated and passionate bloggers like you. I also adore 1950's fashion and style. Most decades hold at least some appeal or interest for me. And I love to see how fashions from one era inform and inspire other eras.

    1. Thanks Marie, Im so glad you like this post! I do love some of the styles from the 50s as well like shirtwaists, but i cant bring my self to sew it when theres shift dresses calling my name!

  5. Another great post! I love the double darts in the Butterick dress. Hope you feel better soon!

  6. Every garment from this period has lovely detail and it is really femine. These women had style!

  7. Poor darling, sore heads are no bloody fun at all, not to mention dental work! UGH! Distraction is indeed the name of the game.
    On the plus side, there is SO much to love here! I'm currently quite obsessed with the full skirts, little jackets and darling hats..have been for a while, really. It'll pass....perhaps...

    1. Thanks m'dear! Oh i noticed your love of full skirts! I have been making a bunch for spring as well as some sneaky maxi style ones.

  8. oh! I love 9661--and those bows! Thank you so much for doing these, they're so inspirational!

    1. Oh yes! isn't it pretty! did you notice the tiny bow at the bottom of her skirt? such a random place for a bow!


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