After visiting the Mary Quant exhibition at the Gallery of Costume in Platt Fields Park, Jenny Knowles explores the history of sixties fashion and how to incorporate the era into your wardrobe
The 1960s saw the beginning of a revolutionary change in the history of fashion. I visited the Gallery of Costume to view an exhibition depicting the influences of Mary Quant, the name that resonates most when we think of trends brought into play in the era.
Although original inventors of such designs are a topic of dispute, Quant popularised many features of the 60s in vogue dress among women. The most obvious and perhaps iconic garment in fashion of today is, of course, the mini skirt, which marked the sexual liberation of the women wearing them at that time in history, as it coincided with the arrival of the contraceptive pill and therefore the ability to bare flesh without shame or public condemnation. The hot pants did a similar job, the idea was to create clothes for women that they could run and jump in without the restriction of long heavy skirts tangling your legs together, allowing a physical freedom as well as a social one.
You can find pieces of original 60s clothing hiding in your local charity and vintage shops. If you are looking for a unique and truly authentic look, a trip to the Northern Quarter is definitely awaiting you. But if you are short on time or simply don’t think you can muster the effort it takes to root through endless piles of musty treasures, then take a closer look at your local high street stores. There may be more classically 60s garments strewn across the clothes rails than you might think. Take the Topshop MOTO Cord V-Neck Dress — a simple black A-line dress that comes to mid-thigh length and can be layered over t-shirts for a classic preppy 60s look.
Knee high boots were also a key feature of the era and with winter in full swing we see a lot more of these stocked on store shelves. For example, team the Black Suedette Stiletto Knee High Boots with a colourful swing dress.
Currently gripping the fashion society is the comeback of the turtleneck. A classic example of a quintessential element of 60s style, the high neck gives a certain modesty that allows for, in turn, a higher hemline, as unlike eras prior to the 60s, 2016 does not frown upon flaunting your pins once in a while. Dressed up or dressed down this garment is a winner and can be found at almost any online or high-street fashion store for as little as £12 (Boohoo.com) so you don’t have to break the bank to show off your new 60s-inspired style.
The Mary Quant: Fashion Icon exhibition at the Gallery of Costume runs from 3rd November 2016 — 5th November 2017