Accessory Trends of the 1960s
The 1960s should be remembered as the age of expression with a split personality. Beginning in the early sixties, a conservative tone set the stage with iconic trendsetters such as Audrey Hepburn. A classic style not too distant from the 1950s still had steam. Yet, as the years went on, a new side took center stage that aimed to unveil the nation’s psyche, leading to outrageous new designs in the fashion industry and a great love of accessories.
In brief, the 1960s were rather turbulent in comparison to the previous decade. Early outlooks for the sixties were bright, as many Americans held positive views. The middle class was stronger than ever, which granted teens less pressures, and disposable incomes. However, the political climate caught fever and began to shine light on social injustices, just as the Vietnam War heightened. During the 1960s Nixon enforced the draft and assassinations of major leaders such and Martin Luther King Jr., and JFK left society on weak footing. Many people used style trends to express frustrations and embrace their role in society.
The Conservative Side
The early sixties were quite conservative in comparison the late sixties. Icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy influenced a classy approach toward accessory trends. Audrey Hepburn will forever be remembered for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film debuted in 1961, and glamorized Holly Golightly, a New York socialite with little ambition and fabulous poise. Miss Golightly shimmied her way from scene to scene, impeccably dressed and accessorized. Her big sunglasses stayed trendy throughout the entire decade. Classy trends such as gloves, hair accessories, string of pearls, and wide brimmed hats, all can be associated with Audrey Hepburn and her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Something else about the sixties is that bona fide image of Mrs.Jackie Kennedy. Her pillbox hat, string of pearls and long slender gloves mark a decade —and a powerful woman. Her conservative attire always held a fashionable charm that accented her features. For this reason, her iconic looks are often reinvented over and over with a lasting appeal. In her more casual settings, she continued the affluent charm by wearing oversize sunglasses and bangles. Her bangles caught the attention of fashionistas, famously known as her Croisillons bracelets, designed by Jean Schlumberger. Colorful and embedded with gems, Jackie O’s bangles are still embraced as stylish.
By the mid to late 1960s a counterculture movement led to pure freedom of expression. Fashions trends spoke wildly for the new class of aging adolescents, and the men and women uprising out of shadows. Fashion was expression, with little boundaries, miniskirts and colorful accessories where all the rage. Jewelry no longer defined status; it simply spoke an artful language. Large colorful pieces of jewelry produced out of inexpensive materials such as plastics became increasingly popular.
Most notably, French artist Lea Stein created a distinctive style using plastics, or cellulose acetate in the form of thin layers. She liked Art Deco, and geometric shapes of animals, household items, people and bold colors. Today Stein’s designs are quite valuable, and highly sought after. Her jewelry and accessories varied from buckles, pins and brooches to pairs of earrings. Most of her artful pieces gained early attention in the 1960’s, giving her the opportunity to continue making pieces well into the 1980’s. Vintage collections can still be found today.
The Late Sixties
The late sixties can be instantly recognized by style. Big, bold color trends were splashed across large plastic pieces of jewelry. Certainly clothing was no different. The late sixties had a flamboyant zang that was unveiled at Woodstock, like a final showcase. Long beaded necklaces, headbands made of leather and beads, bandanas, feather earrings and free spirited styles dominated the end of the decade. Clothing and accessories aimed to express wellbeing. The material used to create accessory pieces such as beaded necklaces, bangles and headbands only needed to be colorful and affordable. By the end of the sixties, the decade resembled nothing of the early sixties. It had been a long ten years, with growing pains and a new sense of expression.