60s dress / full skirt: women’s trend

It’s no great accident that the popularity of Mad Men has coincided with a resurgence in early 1960s fashion. A sartorial inspiration to men and women alike, we’ve seen an avalanche of elements from the era spill over into fashion’s impressionable mind; and the bulk of the torrent is yet to come.

So say bonjour to fuller figures and longer hemlines as the skirt and dress silhouettes of the late ’50s / early ’60s swing their way back onto the scene as a 2010 / 2011 fashion trend.

60s full skirt
Full ’60s dress at Louis Vuitton A/W 2010

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Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past
Ladylike dressing: a blast from the past

’60s dress trend: what is it?

When we talk about the ’60s dress or skirt in this context, we’re not talking about the later, mod ’60s movement of miniskirts and teeny shift dresses. We’re talking about early ’60s ladylike dressing that flowed on from the late 1950s.

Dress Styles

Full skirts: the ’60s housewife

Think Betty Draper: the overflow of ’50s prom style dresses into ’60s day wear. Full, below-the-knee circle skirts, cinched in waists, and prim, proper styling.

  • Look to Louis Vuitton and Prada who both put ladylike full skirts on their runways for the fall 2010 season, particularly in heavier fabrics like wool blends.
  • For spring 2011 look to bright, fresh colours and pastels, and prints like florals or stripes (see Jayson Brunsdon Spring 2010 for some great examples).

full skirt
Full dress at Jayson Brunsdon, S/S 2010

The granny skirt

Don’t panic about the name of this one; this look actually was commonly known as the granny skirt back in the ’60s.

Longer, usually gathered or pleated, often with a ruffled hem, the granny skirt is as it sounds: a young take on grandma dressing. It falls rather than puffs out too much and is more understated – think sixties office girl. If I’m to stick with the Mad Men analogy, this is the style you’d more likely spot on Peggy Olsen. The key to pulling off this look today is to either make it completely effortless, or surprisingly sexy.

  • Avoid looking dowdy by pairing with a fitted top; or sex it up with a sheer blouse.
  • For an authentic look pair with flats or dainty kitten heels. To modernise, stick with a pair of high heels.
  • Sweeten it up with a pair of little bobby socks under shoes a la Marc Jacobs (see the inspiration gallery).

full plaid skirt
Full skirt at Louis Vuitton, A/W 2010

The bombshell: sheath skirts and dresses

There’s no doubt that, as the trend stands to date, the full skirt is the silhouette du jour. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options for a sensual, early ’60s look. A straight cut sheath or pencil skirt is the ultimate in creating a 1960s hourglass shape – not only cinching in the waist, but clinging to the hips as well. Think Man Men bombshell Joan Holloway (yes I know – another Mad Men allusion. The characters just fit so perfectly.)

  • Look for skirts that are straight, high waisted, below knee with a kick pleat or slit at the back.
  • You can also look for fitted sheath dresses. These are great sleeveless or with classic three-quarter sleeves.
  • The peg-top skirt is another alternative – full at the waist with small darts or pleats, and tapering narrowly to the hem.

60s sheath dress
Sheath dress at L’Wren Scott, S/S 2010

Accessorising a ’60s ladylike look

If you want to stick with the theme, here are a few traditional ways of accessorising a ’60s look that can still work today:

  • Ladylike kitten heels.
  • Bold red lipstick for a bombshell look or soft pink for a vintage belle.
  • Cats-eye glasses.
  • ’60s accessories: a wide, waist-cinching belt; a leather clutch in candy-store pastels; gloves; a classic headscarf.
  • Hair worn sultry and ’60s sex kitten, or swept up into a beehive.

See the inspiration gallery for more styling ideas.

Prada ladylike 60s dress
Ladylike full dress at Prada, A/W 2010

Modernising the ’60s look

As well as the points already mentioned, there are plenty of other ways to bring the late ’50s / early ’60s silhouettes into the now. Here are just a few.

  • Follow Dries Van Noten‘s lead for the ultimate in effortless modernising of the ’60s full skirt. Throw over a boyfriend blazer with a turned up collar, or a souchy sporty sweat top, and slip on a pair of on-trend sunglasses.
  • Try the same silhouettes but with a shorter hemline, such as above the knee or shorter.
  • Add a pair of knee high socks that can just be seen below the hemline.
  • Look for pieces in fabrics like leather or sheer tulle for an edgy update on the look.
  • Pair a full ’60s skirt or sheath skirt with a cropped top, exposing a little midriff.
  • Wear with one of the more modern hair trends like a messy topknot or effortless side braid.

Dries Van Noten casual 60s
Modern take on the full skirt at Dries van Noten, A/W 2010

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Author

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Some people's wardrobes are about a small selection of pieces that all fit within one aesthetic - Tania Braukamper isn't such a person. With a wardrobe that spans three different rooms, her approach to fashion is a mixture of current-season key pieces mixed with vintage finds she's sourced on innumerous shopping trips around the world's more cultured capitals. Despite a disparate approach to shopping, Tania is adamant that the key to mixing vintage with new season is to stick to key looks and colours that work for oneself. And it's a theory that she works into her writing for Fashionising.com, where she serves as the publication's Editor.