Here at the Iowa State University Textiles and Clothing Museum we are huge fans of the 1960s for a number of reasons, but primarily for the fashion trends. During this decade, the successes of the fashion industry had huge increases. Farrell-Beck and Parsons stated, “The period 1959-1968 was largely prosperous, with a generally rising stock market, gradually declining unemployment, and fairly quiescent inflation…[t]he United States boasted a $15 billion apparel industry in 1966” (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007, p. 163). Our students at Iowa State University also have a great interest in this decade as it represents a time of pushing boundaries with bright colors and geometric shapes, as well as social movements such as the Civil Rights movement and the Gay rights movement (Mendes & Haye, 1999).
We have a number of objects within our collection the reflect the trends, statements, and fads of the 1960s; here are some of our favorites!
Photographed here is a woman’s A-line, sleeveless dress made of linen (circa 1967). This dress has a white bodice with a round neckline, finished with wide orange bias binding and an orange skirt. The front and back bodice have vertical seams from waistline to armscye. The bodice of this dress is fully lined with rayon, and the orange skirt also has a rayon lining. With a somewhat modest appearance, this dress represents the transitional phase of the 1960s. Farrell-Beck and Parsons state, “Despite the period’s reputation for wild, kicky dressing, it began in a fairly sedate way, with most skirts skimming the knees and most waistlines firmly defined…” (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007, p. 173).
Photographed here are a pair of woman’s slacks made with a bold print, linen-like, woven fabric (circa 1965). The print is bright, with a black and white alternating background, and large paisley and flower shapes in deep pink, orange and yellow. These pants are slim fitting with no waistband. These types of bright colors and prints were extremely popular during the 1960s, “Colors ran riot, singly, paired, and in psychedelic prints that mixed several high-intensity hues. Favorites included shocking pink, orange, lime green, purple, and canary yellow” (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007, p. 173).
A huge fad from the 1960s was the paper dress, and we are excited to share that we have multiple paper dresses in the Textiles and Clothing Museum collection. Farrell-Beck and Parsons state, “Any account of this decade must include the paper dress that became a fad in 1966. These sold for as little as $1.25 or as much as $1,000, depending on the complexity and who designed them” (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007, p. 173).
Finally, one of our most prized possessions within our collection from the 1960s is this blouse made by famous designer Emilio Pucci (circa 1960s). This is a woman’s geometric print shirt with yellow, orange, pink and tan geometric shapes. Fabric is very thin, almost sheer, which was ideal for traveling (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007). This blouse was made in Italy and is 100% pure cotton. Farrell-Beck and Parsons state, “Notable Italian names [of this decade] included Emilio Pucci, famed for bold prints on silk knits, perfect for travel. Although he had been designing them in the 1950s, Pucci’s silk prints in bright swirling colors struck a chord in the psychedelic 1060s” (Farrell-Beck and Parsons, 2007, p. 171).
We are excited to share some of our favorite objects from the 1960s, and we hope that you enjoy them as much as we do! What is your favorite decade from the 1900s? Tell us in the comment section or on our new Instagram page @tcmuseum_isu.
Farrell-Beck, J., & Parsons, J. (2006). Twentieth century dress in the United States. New York: Fairchild.
Mendes, V., & De La Haye, A. (1999). 20th century fashion. London: Thames & Hudson.
By: Dyese Matthews, Agatha Huepenbecker Burnet Endowed Graduate Assistant