The 1960s was a transformative decade — the end of the restrictive post-World War II posturing and the ushering in of an era of cultural and political uncertainty. It was the time of JFK’s presidency and assassination, of Woodstock and Vietnam and of college campuses boiling over with anti-war rage and protest — and massive social upheaval.
And that was definitely reflected in the fashion. Suddenly hemlines were shorter, heels higher, and all style bets were off. Women were casting off the restrictive clothes of previous decades and wearing mini-skirts, bikinis, and — gasp! — hot pants.
Some chopped their hair short, playing with androgyny, while others grew their hair wild and free. In a nod toward the social and sexual liberation that marked the decade, women’s clothing was suddenly a lot more revealing and experimental. Most people agreed (especially the young men of the era) that this was a very good thing.
We’ve gathered together some of the incredible women who defined the fashion and style of the 60s—including music icons like the Supremes, models (hello, Twiggy), actresses like Jane Birkin and designers—as well as clued you in on some of their best work in order to get to know them better.
Take a look, and share your favorites in the comments!
The women whose style defined a generation.
This singer and actress has lived—she had a romance with French singer Serge Gainsbourg, had a rather famous Hermès bag named after her, and gave birth to two girls — Lou Doillon and Charlotte Gainsbourg — both style muses in their own rights.
Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, "Je T'aime...Moi Non"
Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melodie Nelson
Quant was a major mover and shaker in the Mod fashion scene, and is often credited with the creation of the mini-skirt and hot pants. (Thanks Mary!)
Quant by Quant: The Autobiography of Mary Quant, by Mary Quant
The Supremes, led by Diana Ross, exemplified the Motown girl group sound. They're still considered one of the most successful girl groups, ever, with 12 number one singles. Plus,they had really great coordinated outfits.
The Supremes A-Go-Go
Part of Andy Warhol's rag-tag Factory crew, Sedgwick briefly served as Warhol's model and muse before the two had a falling out.
Edie: American Girl, by George Plimpton and Jean Stein
Twiggy was just a regular model before Brit hairdresser Leonard, of the House of Lenoard, gave her her signature close-cropped 'do. The short hair, combined with her stunning doe eyes launched her into supermodel status.
Twiggy: A Life in Photographs by Terence Pepper
Already mega-famous by the '60s, Audrey Hepburn's most iconic role was probably her 1961 turn in the film adaptation of "Breakfast At Tiffany's" where she basically redefined what it meant to have bangs, and wear a little black dress.
"Breakfast At Tiffany's"
Photos12 - Jean-Marie Périer
An Italian-born designer, actress, and model, Pallenberg is known for dating not one but two members of the Rolling Stones — Brian Jones and Keith Richards. She had three children with Richards and was rumored to even had had a brief fling with Jagger, though she denies it.
"Sympathy for the Devil," the 1968 documentary about the Rolling Stones which features Pallenberg.
Gamine Mia Farrow chopped off her locks for the horror film "Rosemary's Baby" and became an instant style icon.
As First Lady, Jackie Kennedy brought magic to the White House, turning it into a modern-day Camelot. In the years after JFK's death, she reinvented herself as a glamourous jet-setting socialite.
Jackie Style, by Valentino
French film actress and sexpot Brigitte Bardot popularized the bikini, and turned helped usher in the sexual revolution.
"...And God Created Woman"
In the mid-60s, Faithfull, a British singer, songwriter and actress, left her husband to have a romantic and creative relationship with Mick Jagger. She co-wrote the Stones' song "Sister Morphine."
Kwan was one of the first-ever Asian-American actresses to break into the Hollywood system, and was referred to as the "Chinese Brigitte Bardot."
"The World of Suzie Wong"