The 1960s were a turbulent time for politics, music and men’s fashion. Influenced by the Beatles, hippies and Asia, 1960s men’s fashions incorporated many changes, from clothes to hairstyles to shoes. Men embraced brighter colors and bolder patterns to express their new sense of freedom. A number of the men’s fashions were fads that faded when the decade ended, but a few still live on in the retro look and in movies.
Men’s suits in the 1960s took a radical departure from the traditional, dark monochromatic style of the previous generation. Seen in James Bond movies, the Prince of Wales suit’s large plaids added a bolder style. The white and blue stripe of seersucker created a fresh appeal for summer wear. Double-breasted, velvet suits with gold brocade vests and a frilly shirt made a big hit in the 1960s and resurfaced in the 1990s “Austin Powers” movies. A main development was narrow lapels on suits and thin ties, 1 inch wide, while the Edwardian suit was collarless. A solid-color suit, such as all-white, reflected the Italian minimalist style.
The narrow drainpipe pant style measured 16 to 17 inches wide at the leg and fit tightly from the thigh to the ankle. Its slimming look made a man look taller. These trousers made turn-ups on the bottom of men’s pants and pleated fronts obsolete by the late 1960s. The no-waist or hip-hugger style rested below the belly button, usually exposing it, and eliminated a belt. Later in the decade, flair or bell-bottom pants replaced the thinner trousers. Throughout the 1960s, men wore trousers in paisley, stripes and checks and tie-dye patterns.
The Nehru jacket from India created a 1960s fashion sensation for men worldwide. With its mandarin collar -- a short, stand-up collar -- and tight-fitting bodice, it was frequently worn by the Beatles and other celebrities. Hip length and made from silk, embroidered or plain, the Nehru jacket had up to eight buttons on the front but no pockets. It is still worn by men and women today.
The sharp-toed, ankle-length winklepicker shoes date to medieval times but gained renewed status among 1960s men. Renamed the Chelsea boot, its 2-inch-square Cuban heel was the first high-heel shoe for men in the '60s. The shoe had zipper or elastic sides, and came in leather dyed in any color. Sandals, moccasins and the barefoot look started to replace the more traditional shoe styles, such as the loafer, oxford and the low-heeled brogue.
Men’s hairstyles went from short to long -- often as long as women’s -- during the 1960s. Trendy in the early 1960s, the mop-top had a flat, straight cut with hair collar-length in the back, over the ears on the sides and bangs in the front. The hair for a bowl or pot cut was short in the back, sides and front, as if cut by placing a bowl on the head. By the late '60s, long hair on men was more fashionable and worn loose or tied in a ponytail.
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Since 1998 Valerie Valdez's articles have appeared in the "Austin Business Journal," "Austin Women" and "Inside Austin." Valdez has enjoyed working in broadcasting for NBC, PBS stations and for the U.S. Army. She earned a Bachelor of Science in radio-TV from the University of Texas and a Master of Arts in theater from Texas State University.